254 Rivers Teachers drag Wike before Industrial Court in Bayelsa

By Emmanuel Addeh

Some 254 teachers in Rivers State on Tuesday dragged the Governor of the state, Mr Nyesom Wike, before the  National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Bayelsa State, for stopping the payment of their salaries.

Wike had while announcing the government’s decision in February, 2016, reportedly noted  that he would no longer pay the salaries of primary and secondary schools’ teachers of demonstration schools and other designated institutions where pupils and students pay school fees.

But the workers, mainly of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Ignatius Ajuru University of Education as well as the Ken Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori,  prayed the court to compel the government to pay their salaries.

Of the numbers, 102 were teachers at the RSUST,  97 at the IAUE and 55 were employees at KSWP.

They claimed that since Wike’s order in February, their respective institutions had refused to pay their salaries which had resulted in unnecessary hardship for themselves and their families.

While the demonstration schools at KSWP are said to have been shut down since Wike’s directive, those of RSUST and IAUE have yet to be closed down,but the affected teachers have remained unpaid for five months.

The teachers therefore sued the governor, who is the first defendant in suits NICN/YEN/87/2016 for IAUE; NICN/YEN/88/2016 for KSWP and NICN/YEN/89/2016 for RSUST.

The claimants, who prayed the court  to declare their appointments valid and subsisting, also joined the Attorney-General of Rivers State (2nd defendant) and their various institutions – RSUST,  IAUE and KSWP (3rd defendant) in the suit.

They prayed the industrial court to declare that their respective employments were valid and subsisting and that the defendants acted in error by stopping their salaries.

The teachers also urged the court to declare that the claimants were entitled to the payments of their respective salaries,  allowances and emoluments until they attain their respective ages of retirement of the respective institutions.

The claimants sought a declaration that the 1st defendant’s directive stopping the payment of their salaries with effect from the end of February 2016 was unlawful, null and void.

They also sought a declaration that the 1st defendant (Wike) had no right to order the discontinuance of the payment of their salaries with effect from February 2016.

The government employees urged the court to order the defendants to pay them forthwith the arears of their respective salaries for the months of February, March, April and thereafter.