EBONYI, Nigeria – A former Commissioner for Information and State Orientation in Ebonyi State, Mr. Abia Onyike on Tuesday threatened to drag the state government and governor David Umahi to court over alleged seizure of Pension and gratuity.
Abia who served as the Deputy National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, made this known in a statement signed and made available on Thursday.
He accused Governor Umahi of directing the payroll officers at the Ministry of Finance to stop payment of his pension and gratuity, as a result of his criticism of the state government.
“I joined the Civil Service in February 1980 under late Governor Sam Mbakwe of old Imo State and retired untainted as Director of Information after 35 years of meritorious service in Ebonyi State in August 2014, before Umahi became Governor. I think it is morally and spiritually wrong for Gov. Umahi to come now and start withholding my life entitlements. This is a terrible and vicious aberration”, Onyike said.
Onyike further noted that the governor allegedly passed an oral instruction to the payroll officers in the Ministry to stop paying him pensions since June 2020.
He noted further that Gov. Umahi had blocked the payment of his gratuity since he came into office in 2015.
“I may be compelled to drag Gov. Umahi and the State Government to Court, if by the end of this year the government continues to withhold my hard-earned and legitimate entitlements” he added.
Recall that Onyike had severally criticized Umahi’s Government for engaging in white elephant projects, neglecting the welfare of state workers, non-appointment of Permanent Secretaries in the Governor’s first tenure(2015-2019) and his polarisation/ proscription of some trade unions in the state.
But the governor had dragged Onyike to Court in a N10 billion Defamation Case which is still pending in Court.
In a reaction, the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation Barr Uchenna Orji dismissed the allegation adding that the governor never directed any officer in the ministry of finance to stop any payment of pension to the former commissioner.
According to him “After some years of his retirement and today he is coming back to say that he hasn’t been paid pension, I wish him good luck. The governor never ever directed any person in the ministry of finance not to pay any person and not at all.
“The government of Ebonyi State has from time to time been paying the entitlements of the retirees. He is crying foul of not being paid by the government, for the record, Abia Onyike has been in the habit of fabricating lies and embarking on publications that is against the state government which is very unwarranted, ignominious and irresponsible” he noted.