- Teachers who were denied employment demand justice•
Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State is set to honour elder statesmen who championed for the creation of the state in continuation of the 31 years anniversary celebration of the state.
The Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr Onofiok Luke, made this known on Tuesday during a visit to the Paramount Ruler of Essien Udim local government area, Edidem Cosmas Akpan.
Luke who said the monarch is the only surviving traditional ruler among the ten paramount rulers that signed the resolution for the creation of Akwa Ibom in the 1980s, praised Edidem Akpan, for his unassailable character, visionary leadership and selfless service to the state and humanity.
He commended Edidem Akpan for using his energy, intellect, and courage in motivating members of the traditional rulers council during the struggle for the state creation, and for his perfect understanding of his surroundings, dedicated service, wise counsel, guidance, and disposition to the wishes of his people.
The Speaker urged the people of the state particularly the youths to learn the lessons of unity and togetherness as displayed by the monarchs who fought to make the state a reality without recourse to ethnicity and language, which seems to be threatening the present unity of the state.
“I want to use this opportunity to thank you. By extension, I like to thank all of those, and their families living, who worked and advocated in one way or the other for the creation of Akwa Ibom State.
“I have heard that there are persons who went to meet His Excellency (former military leader) Ibrahim Babangida at the time of the struggle for the creation of our state, but based on the available document that I have seen; I want to thank everyone who spoke to the then Head of State, and those who went to Niger and Kaduna States to push the struggle.
“I am using you as a point of contact to thank all of you on behalf of this generation of Akwa Ibom people led by His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel who happens to be an in-law of the then President of Traditional Ruler’s Conference, Obong Sampson Udoidiong.
“If we had never come to say thank you, I have come today as the mouthpiece of the state legislature. As the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, I stand here on behalf of Governor Udom Emmanuel to say thanks to you and all those families who worked, agitated, and suffered for the creation of Akwa Ibom State.
“We had your humble self as the then Paramount Ruler of Ikot Ekpene, Obong Cosmas O Akpan, who by the grace of God, is the only surviving of the ten persons who signed that resolution.
“This shows the seed of unity that you all sowed in the state by not looking at where you came from, but making the unity and progress of Akwa Ibom paramount. This also goes to show the force that the traditional institution commanded then, which we wish they should continue to command same force in the present times.
“We want this present generation to learn those lessons of unity, and those lessons of togetherness. And we thank God that in the state today, God has given us a governor in the person of Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, who is working towards that Unity, and who is looking at building the state as a common front, not looking at where people come from, or looking at the things that divide us, but looking at those things that build, those things that led to the unity and prosperity of the state.
“I wish that everyone who has opportunity to head this state from one position or the other, would reflect on the concluding part of the resolution that we are doing this to leave behind a legacy for our children that will ensure and enhance development, national stability, easy maintenance of law and order. Those are the very strong ideologies that were fabricated by those who signed that resolution,” he said.
Speaking, Edidem Cosmas Akpan commended the State governor and the Speaker of the State House of Assembly for remembering to honour his contributions to the state, and called for unity among the people.
He said he was young when he read the motion for the creation of Akwa Ibom State, adding that then, there was no division among the people of the state.
He mentioned that there was nothing like Ibibio, Annang or Oron but one Akwa Ibom as every indigene of the state saw themselves first as Akwa Ibom people.
Meanwhile teachers totalling 5,000 in the state are demanding for justice after been denied employment by the state government.
The group is insisting that they are neither scammers nor unqualified as alleged by the state government, adding that such terms used to address them amounts to sacrilegious defamation.
Speaking under the aegis of ‘Akwa Ibom 5,000 Teachers’, the group through a statement signed by on Tuesday in Uyo by their lead counsel, Mr Clifford Thomas, said against the position of government, they were duly employed by the Akwa Ibom State Government after undergoing 20 months screening by the State Secondary Education Board.
They said evidence abound that the government failed in the Court of Appeal to prosecute their appeal against them and that the matter remained in court.
However, they explained that the government went ahead to recruit new persons to take the place of the 5,000 teachers, insisting that they must get justice.
“It has come to our notice the shenanigans and hoards of lies and untruths peddled by agents of the Akwa Ibom State Government over the wrongful termination of the employment of 5,000 persons employed as teachers in April, 2015.
“Our concern is premised on the fact that having respected the sanctity of the matter in court (both the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, NICN, and the Court of Appeal, Calabar Division), the Defendants/Appellants have consistently displayed belligerence and aggressive acts against the Respondents and the subject matter of the dispute in issue. Let us give a brief review of the matter hereunder.
“The Akwa Ibom State Government had announced the disruption of the employment of 5,000 persons employed into the state teaching service of the government, in October, 2016; and the persons, today known as the Akwa Ibom 5,000 Teachers, challenged this illegal action in court.
“At the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, NICN, the government could not put up a defense, and up till this moment, the government and other Defendants in the matter have not been able to come up with any defense. Rather, they came up with a preliminary objection, which was thrown out after a successful argument by the Claimants’ Counsels.
“They challenged the Ruling of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria which was decided in favour of the teachers, that; they were right to come into the matter by way of representative action, instead of filing 5,000 separate suits on the same subject matter, at the Calabar Division of the Court of Appeal.
“Even though the government abandoned the appeal matter at the Court of Appeal, Calabar, the teachers through their legal team, resurrected the matter, causing the matter to be listed, for hearing of the Motion for Extension of time, which was fixed for the 27th day of November, 2017.
“When the Motion came up for argument, the legal team of the Teachers did not oppose, thus, paving way for the government legal team to be granted leave of court for the extension of time within which the Defendants/Appellants could file their Notice of Appeal, and 14 days was granted for this action.
“The Rule is that after filing the Notice of Appeal, transmission of the Records of Appeal will follow suit, within 60 days from the 14 days originally given for the filing of the Notice of Appeal. And where this fails, the Applicants still had 30 days within which to compile and transmit whatever they consider should constitute the Records of Appeal, in the event that the Registrar of the NICN failed, refused or neglected to compile and transmit the Records.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Records of Appeal is a compilation of every processes (for and against) submitted by all the parties to the matter, including exhibits and every material documents that would be relied upon by either party to the matter, at the Court of Appeal, which had previously been filed at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, NICN.
“Registrar of the NICN had on the 8th day of December, 2017 issued a letter inviting parties to settle the Records on the 18th day of December, 2017, but the Defendants/Appellants refused to attend, and every subsequent appointments were not honoured.
“On the 12th day of May, 2018 after the time required by the Rule for the performance of the act expected of the government and its legal had long elapsed, the Teachers approached the Court of Appeal with a Motion on Notice for the matter to be dismissed. It was about four weeks or thereabout after this timeous action of the Teachers, that the government, which was the Appellant in this suit, decided to make a belated effort to file what they called a Records of Appeal,” the statement read.