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Local Government Chairmen Suspension saga – Union reacts

by Christiana Gokyo, Jos

JOS – Following the directive to unseal the 17 Local Government Chairmen’s offices in Plateau by Commissioner of Police, CP Okoro Julius Alawari, the President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, Comdr. Yohanna Arandong Makwin, while briefing newsmen, said “It has become necessary in respect of the retrogressive tendencies with which the teeming workforce in the Local Governments have found itself since the suspension of the Local Government Chairmen and Councillors and the subsequent appointment of Transition Implementation Committee Chairmen in Plateau State.

“You are all aware of the political scenario the suspension and appointments have generated, leading to the Plateau State Police Command taking steps to forestall breakdown of law and order,” he stressed.

Briefing newsmen on Sunday at the Union’s State Secretariat in Jos, the president said, while the Police sealed-off the 17 Local Government Council Secretariats, preventing both workers and any of the disputed parties from entry, an order from a Bukuru Area Court was made mandating the Police Authority to immediately unseal all the 17 Secretariats.

He said, concerted talks were held between Police high Command in the State with critical stakeholders, leading to the unsealing of the gates with a clear directive that only Local Government workers and none of the elected or appointed Local Government officials would be allowed access.

The Union President stressed that, “This directive by the Police, which was hinged on the respect for the court order by the Area Court, was received with great joy as workers who were eager for such a development resumed work in earnest.

“This joy would only be short-lived when on the 27/08/2023 a press release by the Police Authority, signed by its PPRO titled, ‘Total Unsealing of 17 Local Government Secretariats and offices of the Local Government Chairmen in Plateau State’ was issued.”

“Contents of the press release were at variance to the earlier directive whereupon the press release is asking for the suspended Local Government Chairmen and Councillors to resume office on Monday 28/08/2023.”

According to him, “As a union, we are not concerned with the political tussle over the matter. Our concern is for the safety of our members (workers) whose safety and welfare is uncertain as the situation is unpredictable.”

He disclosed that, “We, therefore, called this press conference, in order to let Nigerians and concerned authorities know our predicament. Accordingly, as a union whose members’ salary is the least in the state, we shall not further risk the lives of our members as a result of this tussle.

“Hence, the Union has resolved at an emergency State Executive Council Meeting held on Sunday 28/08/2023, for a total strike, effective 12.00 midnight until this matter is resolved. The decision has become necessary, in order not for innocent members of the union to be caught-in-the-web of the police release.”

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