By Archibong Jeremiah
Members of Cross River State College Academic Staff Union, COEASU have accused the State Government of illegally deducting five thousand, seven hundred and fifty naira (N5, 750) from their salary and that of other staff of the College for four months now for a compulsory computer ownership project implemented by the State government without their consent.
The union further revealed that the deduction is planned to last till twenty months; summing the amount to one hundred and fifteen thousand naira (N115, 000).
The disclosure was made by Dr. Dermot Bissong, the Association’s Chairman when contacted by CrossRiverWatch.
According to him, the union is not part of any computer ownership program which in any case, remains the right of the worker to decide whether to accept or not as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He said: “They have not called us to discuss any laptop issue, we only witness deduction in salary. When we traced where the order came from, we discovered the immediate past Head of Service had issued a memo to the Accountant General of the State to deduct our salaries for a compulsory computer without our consent. In the course of investigating it, we were referred to Nigeria Labor Congress, NLC that they gave our names as part of them and that the money be deducted.
“We went and met the NLC Chairman and he was trying to claim we are part of NLC and we brought out documents showing that no, we are on our own. Later the Permanent Secretary said we should meet with NLC and iron out the issue that if they find out we are not part of NLC our money will be refunded, and a meeting was fixed for the 29th of last month (October), in that meeting a senior official of NLC told the Permanent Secretary that we are not part of them and they did not submit any name to them and that it’s not an NLC project.
“The Government only consulted them where the then Governor Senator Liyel Imoke swore to reduce the cost, at the end he didn’t after which the NLC man stood up and left that he’s not part of it. We have told them that if they collected our money without our consent, what is worth doing is worth doing well; they should refund our money and stop the deduction”, he said with a note of warning.
The COEASU Chairman ended by revealing he has the backing of his executive members and the congress promised that by Monday 14th November, 2015 they will officially write and give the Government 21 days ultimatum to stop the deduction and return their money, failing to do so, they as a team will take another line of action.
When CrossRiverWatch contacted the office of the Head of Service, an official promised to get back to us on the matter and had not done that at the time of filing this report.