Civil servants and pensioners besiege Rivers secretariat over unpaid salaries

It was gathered that Civil servants and pensioners on Wednesday besieged the Rivers State Secretariat in Port Harcourt to protest the non-payment of their salaries and pension arrears by the state government.

The protesters had moved in droves to the secretariat at about 9am, even as workers refused to attend to anybody that sought their assistance at the secretariat.

The protest caused a gridlock for some minutes as workers and pensioners chanted war songs, calling on the state government to pay their salaries and pensions.

One of the leaders of the protesting workers, Mr. Tony Ochiagha, told journalists that the protest became necessary as a result of the two months salaries owed them by the state government.

Ochiagha pointed out that it was the first time in the history of civil service in the state that workers would be owed for two months, adding that the third month was already approaching.

He stated that pensioners, who were owed five months pension arrears were also going through tough times as they could no longer afford to pay their bills and feed well.

Ochaigha said, “We are talking to the Rivers State Government who is our employer. The civil service is the engine room and the platform on which every administration functions. So, why would they play on the impulse of the civil service?”

Also, the state secretary of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners in Rivers State, Mr. Joseph Agbo, said pensioners in the state had not been paid for five months.

Agbo urged Amaechi to pay them before leaving office, adding that apart from the five months being owed pensioners, other arrears such as the 14 per cent, 15 per cent and 38 per cent increases had not being paid, even when they had been computed and sent to the governor for action.

“Pension is a right and not a privilege. Before the governor came on board, salaries of civil servants and pensioners were regular, but all these are no more.

“We have, on six occasions, had demonstrations in the past over the anomalies and our members are dying without getting their entitlements,” he added.

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