…We don’t owe any worker – Commissioner
By Ozioruva Aliu – Benin City
Elected councillors from 16 out of the 18 local government areas of Edo State under the name Forum of All Progressives Congress Councilors who were suspended by their chairmen allegedly on the orders of the Governor, Godwin Obaseki, on Wednesday took to the streets of Benin City to demand their reinstatement and payment of their salaries and allowances.
Armed with placards carrying different inscriptions, the councillors, all members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) explained that their problems started when Governor Obaseki was screened out of the primary of the APC and decided to make a move to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while they decided to remain in APC after consulting with their constituents.
Their spokesman, Mr Emwinghare Osabuohien, said that as a result of the governor’s defection to the PDP, he ordered the 192 councillors to follow him to the PDP but the 90 who refused were immediately suspended from office while the payment of their salaries, allowances, benefits, overhead and other benefits were stopped.
He said: “It will interest you to know that following our refusal to toe the governor’s line and defect to the PDP as he ordered, we have not received our salaries since May 2020 while some have not even been paid since 2018.
“In addition, all rights, privileges, wages overhead and other entitlements have been withdrawn on the directive of the governor because of our decision to freely exercise our right to democratic choice.”
The spokesman said that while the governor’s decision to defect falls within his right as enshrined in the constitution, there is no law that confers on him the right to compel others to follow him.
Also, the councillor representing Ward 1 in Akoko-Edo local government area, Hon Kingsley Ogini, said that the suspension was not only illegal, “unlawful, undemocratic and unconstitutional but also a breach of sections 110 (a) (b) of the 1999 constitution and 22 of the local government law of Edo State 2000 as amended”.
But the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Efe Stewart, denied the allegation, explaining that the governor is not owing anybody and that the charges are politically motivated.
He said; “You are aware that since Governor Obaseki became governor, salaries are paid as at when due. Before now it was the other way round.
“I am sure this claim is the handiwork of mischief-makers because they have been defeated recently.”
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