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2,500 civil servants protest against delisting from payroll in Cross River

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• State govt arrests 12 illegal tax collectors
No fewer than 2,500 protesting civil servants, who were delisted from the Cross River State payroll, yesterday, barricaded the new state’s secretariat, locking out over 7,000 workers from the premises.

They besieged the secretariat on the Murtala Mohammed Highway, Calabar, carrying placards with inscriptions as, “Ayade Pay Us Our Salaries,” “No Trade Union In Cross River,” and “We Will Continue To Protest Until We Are Reinstated,” among others.

The Guardian recalled that the protesting civil servants were delisted from the state’s payroll by the Governor Benedict Ayade-led administration 13 months ago in an exercise that began in 2018 and ended in August 2019.

The public servants were employed following a directive from Governor Ayade in 2016 through the Deputy Governor, Professor Ivara Esu, who was then Acting Governor.

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Speaking with newsmen in Calabar, the protesters said their situation was unfortunate and disheartening, as many of them have not received salaries since 2018, while some have not been paid since August 2019.

They lamented that in spite of their plight, the state government had been giving appointments to politicians that do not contribute anything to the economy, but receive payment alerts at home.

One of the civil servants, Francis Inah said, “We were employed in 2015 following due process. Many of us wrote different examinations and were given employment letters by the Cross River State government, but surprisingly several names were dropped from the payroll in 2018 and in August 2019.

However, State Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Monday Ogbodum, disclosed that organised labour met with the Head of Service, adding, “There will be a screening exercise to resolve the anomaly this week.

“We have been discussing with the government through the office of the Head of Service to resolve the matter in a bid to reinstate the workers who were genuinely employed in 2015.”

But Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Christian Ita, said the protest was not necessary because the state government and labour signed an agreement in March to resolve the issues before COVID-19 lockdown stalled the screening exercise on the day it would have commenced.

RELATEDLY, the Cross River State government has commenced the arrest of illegal tax collectors in Calabar.

The enforcement exercise, which started yesterday by the state’s Anti-Tax Agency led by its Chairman, Emma Isong, in collaboration with the office of the State Security Adviser and Anti-Cult and Kidnapping Squad, moved round Calabar metropolis and arrested about 12 illegal tax collectors and ticket sellers.

Isong said the offenders would be charged at the special courts, as they were arrested with various illegal tickets used in extorting money from unsuspecting taxi and tricycle operators for whom the state government had abolished taxation.

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