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Court orders reinstatement of demoted Otuoke varsity lecturers, awards N20m damages

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Cross River workers begin indefinite strike

The Industrial Court sitting in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, has ordered the reinstatement of four lecturers demoted by the Federal University, Otuoke in Ogbia Local Council of the state.

The institution, in 2018, downgraded Prof. Steve Nwabuzor from the rank of professor to Lecturer I and Dr. Felina Nwadike, an Associate Professor to Senior Lecturer.

Others were Dr. Sepribo Lawson-Jack, an Associate Professor, to Lecturer I and Dr. Evans Eze from Associate Professor to Lecturer II.The Presiding Judge, Justice Bashiru Alkali, who ruled that the claimants be reinstated to their full status, privileges and entitlements by the institution, ordered that the university should pay each claimant N5 million for defamation and N200,000 each for cost of litigation.

In another development, workers in Cross River State yesterday began a total strike action as declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) despite a pull-out by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and directives by the state government and few others.

The NLC, led by Benedict Ukpekpi, had at weekend issued a bulletin urging all workers in the state to commence an indefinite strike as the state government has failed to effect the payment of the new minimum wage, promotion arrears for four years, non-reinstatement of over 1,000 workers sacked by the government in September last year and other issues.

But the TUC, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) and Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) had on June 27 disassociated themselves from the strike, saying: “The strike was ill-timed,” hence their members should not participate, as they preferred continuous negotiation with the state government to iron out the issues.

The TUC and others were accused of collecting bribe from the state government to denounce the strike but the leadership of Congress in the state, represented by the Vice Chairman, Gabriel Effiong and Secretary, Ken Bassey, said that even though all the points and issues raised by the NLC are of concern but “the times we are globally is also of huge concern to all” and denied the allegations of bribe.

While monitoring the strike, it was observed that it was total as government offices at both the new and old state secretariat were deserted except for few senior civil servants who reported for work. The NLC chairman, who spoke with some newsmen, said the strike was ‘total and successful.’


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