The National Industrial Court has ruled that the non-payment of salaries to 255 workers of the various Demonstration Primary and Secondary Schools in Rivers State since 2016 is unlawful, thereby declaring it null and void.
The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, had in February 2016 directed immediate stoppage of salaries of workers in the Demonstration schools in the Rivers State University, Nkpolu, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, Rumuolumeni and the Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori.
The Governor had stated that the Rivers state government would no longer pay the salary of the workers where pupils pay some form of fees.
In the court case instituted in May 2016, the 255 workers insisted that they were genuine employees of the Rivers State Government and so deserve all the entitlements in the civil service.
Giving a judgment in the case that has lasted for 2 years, Justice Salisu H. Danjidda, of the Owerri Division of the National Industrial Court, on 13th July 2018 ruled that the substantive employment of the 300 workers are valid, legal and have statutory protection.
Justice Danjidda said that the stoppage of the salaries by Governor Wike is unlawful, null and void. The court has also restrained the state government from interfering with the employment of the workers.
The case was filed in May 2016 in the Yenagoa division and later moved to the Owerri division in November 2017. The judgment was entered on June, 13th, 2018.
The affected workers last received salaries in January 2016, marking 30 months at the end of July 2018 without pay.
According to the lawyer to the workers, Mr Damian Okoro, 8 of the staff had died during this period, a development that has forced countless children of the workers out of school because of no salary.
It has also become very difficult for the staff to pay house rent and that the psychological breakdown and emotional torture could best be imagined. It is important to note that a good number of the staff have put in well over 20 years into the service of Rivers State Government.
The workers now want to government to clear their outstanding salaries to enable them to live a normal life as they have continued to carry out their daily activities in the various schools since the salary stoppage.
The 255 workers represent those that are actively in court, doing the legal processes, while 300 represent the total number of workers affected by the stoppage.