Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State in Southern Nigeria, has flushed out 40 lawyers from the state Ministry of Justice into the exploding labour market, claiming that the sacked law officers were wrongly employed.
In Nigeria, unemployment rate jumped to 23.10 percent in the third quarter of 2018 from 22.70 percent in the second quarter of last year. From 2006 until 2018, unemployment rate in the country averaged 12.31 percent, reaching an all time high of 23.10 percent in the third quarter of 2018, and a record low of 5.10 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.
The flushed out law officers were however, employed in December 2016, after a rigorous employment process. The governor had last August ordered for a screening of all the civil servants in the state with a view to fishing out ghost workers, a menace in Nigeria’s public service.
Sources in Calabar, the state capital, said Governor Ayade acted through the state Accountant General, by removing the names of the affected 40 lawyers from the state payroll, a seeming novel development that threw the sacked law officers into confusion.
On September 26, a letter was sent to the Permanent Secretary of the Justice Ministry from the Senior Special Adviser, Payroll requesting for the re-validation of all approvals for employment from 2015 to date.
‘’We noticed for the first time that while other workers were paid September salaries, we didn’t get any payment. This prompted a few of us to march to the accountant general’s office for enquiries. We were told that His Excellency ordered the removal of our names from the payroll and that our employment is to undergo a revalidation. We were encouraged to be patient, that the exercise would last for about 30 days and by the end of October, we would be paid double salaries for September and October’’, one of the victims said
Another added, ‘’it is still a wonder that we have not been paid till now even when other workers have got their October salaries. The letter we wrote to the Accountant General seeking an explanation on why our salaries are yet to be paid has not been responded to till date.’’
‘’Our employment went through the most rigorous and transparent process. Vacancies were advertised, we applied in writing and later wrote an aptitude test in which over 100 applicant lawyers participated. An oral interview was subsequently conducted. At the end of it all, 40 of us successfully made the final list. The whole employment process lasted for about 6 months (from June, 2016 to early December, 2016) and was conducted/supervised by the State Civil Service Commission (the body statutorily empowered to employ civil servants) as well as the Attorney General.
‘’We were issued with employment letters and later trained by the Ministry of Establishment and Training. Our employment has since been confirmed after two years of meritorious service with letters issued to that effect, as required by the Public Service Rules. Our employment was with effect from December, 2016. Since then a lot has happened. We have diligently prosecuted and defended government cases in all courts of the land, including the appellate courts.
‘’My appeal is that the digital and supersonic Governor Ayade should allow humanity and good conscience to guide his thoughts and actions. He should immediately restore our names on the payroll and order the immediate payment of our earned salaries. If not for anything, let him do that at least for the sake of our suffering family members and dependents. Our salaries from December 2016 to May 2017 are still being owed’’, the now unemployed lawyers said.