Scores of workers of Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission on Monday blocked the main gate to the state Government House in Owerri in protest against the non-payment of their salaries.
The workers displayed placards with inscriptions depicting their grievances, including the non-payment of their two-months salary arrears, deductions in the payment of their July salaries and other alleged unfriendly treatment.
They accused the Managing Director of the commission, Andrew Nwoketubo, of allegedly paying lip service to their welfare.
The workers, who caused temporary gridlock on the road leading to the Government House, prevented vehicular movements in and out of the governor’s lodge.
They called for an end to what they described as “impunity in ISOPADC.”
The ISOPADC union Chairman, Sunny Nwabuo, demanded the immediate payment of their August and September salaries.
Nwabuo, who accused the government of being insensitive, said a great harm had been done to their farmlands because of oil explorations in the two oil producing local government areas in the state.
The union leader said, “While N21,000 was deducted from the salaries of drivers in the month of July, N15,000 was deducted from senior staff of ISOPADC, and N24,000 was deducted from the salaries of workers in the accounts department.
“This is at variance with labour laws. The union will make sure that things are done according to the laid down rules.”
The Public Relations Officer of the commission, Promise Eke, confirmed the protest to our correspondent on the telephone.
He, however, declined to make further comment.
Meanwhile, in Calabar, Cross River State, angry residents of Atu and adjoining streets in the Calabar South Local Government Area on Monday shut the area office of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company over non-supply of electricity despite consistent billing.
The resident, under the aegis of Concerned Residents for a Better Calabar South, stormed the PHED office on Atu Street around 7.30am and blocked the entrance.
Men, women and children displayed placards with inscriptions such as, ‘Enough of the extortion by PHEDC,’ ‘Stop sending bills without power supply,’ and ‘Your operation in Calabar South is fraudulent,’ among others.
The protesters said they were tired of the epileptic power supply from PHED while also receiving bills for electricity not supplied.
One of the aggrieved resident, Magdalene Umoh, said the electricity distribution company had no right to distribute bills when there had not been power supply.
She said, “We are here to confront the electricity company for its failure to provide the area with stable electricity even though the company has been distributing bills regularly to consumers.
“It is fraudulent; enough is enough and we cannot take it any longer. The company must live up to its responsibilities by providing the utility we are being billed for. The company should stop extorting money from us because bills without electricity are fraudulent and criminal.”
Another resident, Mathew Odok, said the protest was long overdue, adding that the residents could no longer stomach the ill-treatment from PHED.
“The PHED has shown no desire to restore public power supply to Calabar South. We are very bitter because the action of PHED has led to many negative consequences concerning the economy of our area.
“You need to see how many businesses have shut down because of epileptic power supply. They should give us light because we are paying for it,” he said.
However, while the protest was ongoing, power supply was restored to the area, which made the protesters more furious.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Business Manager of PHEDC, Calabar Office, Mr George Chinwo, proved abortive as he did not pick up calls and also did not respond to text messages.