Some disengaged non-native civil servants in Abia State have protested again over the way they were relieved of their positions by the State Government and the way they are being treated afterwards.
The workers in the public service, numbering about 4,000, were sacked in 2011 by the Abia State Government because they were not indigenes of the state. However, workers are mainly from sister Biafra states namely; Imo, Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi.
Justifying the action, Governor Theodore Orji had said: “If Abia is chasing other people away, we are only copying what others have done to us. It was a question of observing fairness and equity. When I have the opportunity to serve the Abia State people, I have no apologies to make to anybody. What I want to place on record is this: I wonder where people were when Abia-born people were being chased away from other civil services.”
But following heavy condemnation of the action, the State Government announced the recall of the sacked workers. It was gathered that what the state governments did was merely to recall a handful of the disengaged workers. By so doing, the government effectively broke the ranks of the affected workers.
Biafra 24 learnt that the picture being painted is that the workers, who were sacked because they are not indigenes of Abia State, have been recalled by the government. The purported recall was on the internet and reported by a section of the media. But the truth of the matter is that only a few were recalled. Many people do not know the true situation of things because of the propaganda machinery of the state government. Instructively, some of those who were purportedly recalled are still not getting their entitlements. The public is being deceived by the state government.
“Many of the sacked workers no longer come out because of sickness and hunger,” volunteered one of the sacked workers.
Investigation revealed that the non-recall and non-payment of their entitlements has taken a grave toll on the affected workers. Many of them can no longer play their natural role as breadwinners of their families even as their children have dropped out of school. When sickness comes, they only pray and expect divine healing because going seeking proper treatment is out of it.
By October 2014, 56 of them have died.
A civil rights activist, Comrade Chukwuemeka Mba said: “I was informed that about 56 of the sacked workers have died as at October last year. Some died out of frustration; some died of shock of losing their jobs, particularly in the manner it happened.”
When the sacked workers protested through Aba streets to bring their plight to the knowledge of the people as well as appeal to the government to have a change of heart, people were shocked at the development because of the propaganda in government media to the effect that all the sacked workers had been recalled.
However, the demonstration did not end without any incident. It was gathered that an attempt was made to disrupt the outing by people suspected to be agents of government.
According to Comrade Mba, “Some persons suspected to be agents of the ruling clique attempted to halt the protest but were ignored by the protesters as they quietly marched along distributing fliers with the title, ‘How long shall our plight continue’. A young man also came, asking one the protesters some questions. I asked him if he was a journalist and he said that he was a State Security Service (SSS) officer.”
Mba further said: “The disengagement of over 4000 workers from the Abia State workforce constitutes not only a violation of their fundamental right, it is also fraught with many implications to any society where such injustice is allowed to stand. Hence people have a right and duty to protest wherever human right is violated.
“The purported recall of less than 10 per cent was in partial compliance with the advice of a judge at the National Industrial Court Enugu, in a stalled court proceeding on the issue. Over 3,000 of the sacked workers are passing through the agony of the freak incident.”
One of the leaders of the protesters, Mr Ugochukwu Unogu, said that they were resolute in their demand for the workers’ recall.
We ask for total recall, not selective recall. We are really suffering in our father’s land, he stated.
Commenting on the development, human rights activist, Barrister Prince Ukaegbu, called for the resolution of the matter without further delay even as he regrets that Igbo could be so badly treated in Igboland. His words:
Their plight requires immediate and unconditional resolution. It is a tragedy that Igbo could do that to their brothers and sisters. In fact, all forms of injustice being meted out to Igbo must be stopped forthwith.