by crossriverwatch admin
The shutting down of the Federal College of Education Obudu by agents of the Cross River State Government last week has incurred the wrath of three unions in the institution which have described the action of government as uncivil and are consequently demanding the immediate reopening of the school.
Three unions in the institution, Academic Staff Union of Colleges of Education (COEASU), Senior Staff Union of Colleges of Education, (SSUCOEN), and the Non Academic Staff (NASU) gave the government twenty four hours which will elapse on Thursday (tomorrow) afternoon to reopen the closed institution or face the wrath of the union. They however did not specify the nature or shape their wrath will take.
Dr. Peter Betiang of COEASU, Comrade Okang Okang of SSUCOEN, and Mr Godwin Inde of NASU who signed a joint press statement on behalf of their unions said “members of our unions pay their taxes regularly and if the college authorities have not remitted taxes –paid by staff, it is a matter between the college and the state tax administrators”.
The union leaders called for the immediate reopening of the school stressing that “failure to do so will leave the unions with no option than to hold the Cross River State government responsible for nay beach of the peace and the ripple effect that may arise there from”
The unions also petitioned the Cross River State Police Commissioner Mr. Sodipo on what they termed “the invasion of the College of Education Obudu main campus by armed police officers.
“over and above the harassment of staff in their place of work, intimidation of students and confiscation of their handsets in the name of enforcing court order would have led to break down of law and order if not for the timely intervention of the unions’ officials” the union heads said in the letter to the commissioner.
The closure of the school was effected last week by agents of the Cross River State Internal Revenue Service in line with a High Court ruling presided over by Justice Abua in a Suit filed by the State Government accusing the College of defaulting in its civil obligation to the state.
The ruling which came on the 7th of December 2012 gave the management of the college a 120-day ultimatum to pay its tax indebtedness or face sanction and with the ultimatum reportedly expiring on April 7, the state Government gave the school another five days grace before moving in on the 12th of April to seal up the school.
The school which resumed from the Easter break on Wednesday last week had its main gate sealed with a tape by operations staff of the Internal Revenue service, the next day, Thursday with security operatives which include armed mobile policemen, Soldiers and men of Civil Defense Corps cordoning off the school premises to stop any academic or administrative activity from taking place in the college.
Mr Greg Okem, the Director of Legal Services in Internal Revenue Service in Calabar told crossriverwatch that the unions have no right to demand for the immediate reopening rather they should ask their school authorities to pay the money they are owing because the school is indebted to the state government in tax remittances to the tune of N580 million naira deducted from both academic and non academic staff of the school in the past seven years.
“We have been on this for a long time now and the people do not seem to be interested in paying the money which they have long deducted from their staff”.
He said the school had not remitted taxes deducted in the past seven years to government that accounts for the accumulation of the money to the staggering sum of N580 million which the school is finding it difficult to pay.
“They have allowed the money to accumulate for a long time and that accounts for their finding it difficult to pay and until the money is paid the school will not be re-opened”.
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