The once peaceful scenario of Asaba, the Delta state capital, may soon turn into a hot-bed of crisis if urgent security measures are not put in place to curb an alleged impending invasion by thugs on the orders of embattled Director General of Delta state owned construction outfit, Direct Labour Agency (DLA), Emmanuel Igbini, a security alert has revealed.
The crisis, according to dependable sources claimed that the unending feud in DLA reached its head on Wednesday, August 07, 2013 when the state chapter of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), under the headship of Comrade Fidel Emeni, sealed-up the agency’s office in Asaba, calling for the immediate sack of Igbini by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
Blank NEWS Online understands that Igbini, who has severally been accused of gross financial impropriety to the tune of N3.7 billion, high-handedness in running the affairs of the agency and utter disregard to due process was also said to have turned down series of agreements reached with stakeholders and the Union, including representatives of the state government, as he refused to implement the demands for sustainable peace.
“He has flouted all reasonable agreements. He now operate from the unit offices and went ahead to highhandedly dissolve the branch of DLA union via a newspaper advert after purportedly mobilizing non-union members to pass a vote of no confidence on a democratically elected union, an act which is a flagrant disregard to union rules and regulations. He now runs the affairs of the agency through subversive generosity to dissident staff”, an aggrieved staff told Blank NEWS Online.
It was also revealed that during one of the peace meetings at the instance of the Head of Service (HOS), Sir Okey Ofili, the embattled Igbini walked out on Ofili after telling him (HOS) to his face that he is not answerable to anybody outside the state governor and refused to attend the meeting which was held to resolve the agency’s crisis.
The aborted meeting was scheduled to hold at the Conference Hall, Office of the Head of Service on Monday, July 22, 2013, following a letter titled “Re: Seven (7) Days Extension of Ultimatum issued on 28th June 2013, Which Expired Wednesday 17th July 2013” and dated 19th July, 2013 with Ref No. ED 23T/2.
Igbini is said to have also severally rebuffed the Secretary to State Government (SSG), Comrade Ovuozourie Macaulay, Commissioner for Works, Hon. Funkekeme Solomon and a former chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Special Adviser to the Governor on Labour and Industrial Relations, Comrade Mike Okeme, as well as the Permanent Secretary, Government House, Mr. Obuh, who had indicated interest to resolve the impasse.
Okeme, had earlier on 15th April 2013 after exhaustive discussion on dispute at stake succeeded in reaching a nine-point resolution between the Management of Direct Labour Agency (DLA); Leaderships of Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC); Trade Union Congress (TUC); Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE); Association of senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) and the in-house Union of DLA but to Okeme’s chagrin, Igbini vehemently refused to implement any of the resolutions in the Memorandum of Agreement signed by all including Igbini and Okeme.
Okeme, as a former labour boss further made unyielding efforts to persuade Igbini to implement the agreement to no avail via a letter titled “Re: Implementation of Agreement Reached on 15th April, 2013 in the Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Labour and Industrial Relations” and dated 9th July 2013 with Ref No. SA/SCOM/LR.23/Vol.2/220.
Part of the letter reads:
“I am directed to remind you of the need to implement the agreement reached on 15th April, 2013 in the Office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Labour and Industrial Relations and your promise to adopt it as a working document in your Agency and to also inform you that my office have received several correspondences stating that inspite of the signed agreement, the status quo have remained same and the polity is again being heated.
“I am further directed to inform you that in the interest of industrial peace and harmony, it is paramount that you implement the agreement to have a good working relationship with your staff in order to achieve the goals and objectives of the Agency.”
He is also said to have gone ahead to make inciting statements and publications against the union, despite his failure to implement desirable measures and moves by stakeholders to entrench peaceful working relations in the Agency.
However, earlier in a letter with Ref No. AUP/DT/ADM/Vol.1/ 2013/63 and dated 18th July, 2013, the state chapter of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), warned Igbini that “Please note that at the expiration of this Seven (7) days without any tangible action on your part to redress the grievances, the Union may not be able to restrain its members from any action they deem necessary.”
Meanwhile, Igbini’s boastful remarks that “Governor Uduaghan who appointed me is fully behind me. Nobody can challenge my office. I’m only answerable to the Governor because i’m working for him”, had triggered sharp reactions from a cross-sections of Deltans who claim that Igbini’s arrogance may not be unconnected with prior allegations that the Agency exists as a financial drain pipe for selfish interest.
They have therefore called on Nigeria’s anti-graft body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to urgently embark on a careful scrutiny of the financial records of the Agency’s past and present Management dealings viz-a-viz the output on roads maintenance and equipment purchased.
Recall that in the breakdown of Delta State 2013 budget, Mr. Kenneth Okpara, Commissioner for Economic Planning on Thursday, January, 2013, mentioned the release of N2Bn to repair about 159 roads as one of the quick wins made by the Uduaghan led team in 2012, even as government sources proved that more funds were released to DLA in recent times.
The situation however, came to a head after the DLA boss, Emmanuel Igbini had turned down agreements reached with stakeholders and the Union, including representatives of the state government, as the entire staff and members of AUPCTRE thronged out on Wednesday August 07, 2013 and sealed-up the DLA office in Asaba, appealing to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan to urgently sack Igbini due to alleged fraudulent activities and sundry diversion of the Agency’s funds into private Diamond Bank accounts in Asaba and GT Bank in Warri, where hundreds of millions of naira have already allegedly been lodged.
The state chapter of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), has therefore demanded that since all entreaties and agreements have failed, it is rife for the state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan to urgently step in to safe-guard the Peace and Security agenda of his administration, just as they listed six contentions and reasons why they want Igbini ousted.
Their contentions include lack of due process and disregard to extant rules in the public service; poor management of the agency and lack of transparency and accountability; abuse of career of staff of the agency; victimization, harassment, intimidation and coercion of staff; falsehood, propaganda and blackmail as instrument of diversion; and non implementation of agreement reached between AUPCTRE state exco, TUC, NLC and in-house Unions of DLA in the office of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Labour and Industrial Relations to His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan.
Meanwhile, the indicted DG, Emmanuel Igbini is said to have also engaged the services of hired thugs from Ughelli and Warri to physically challenge the aggrieved workers who had allegedly chased him out out of office.
A security source told Blank NEWS Online that the police is already aware of “the plot by a certain DG in Asaba to mobilize truck-loads of thugs from somewhere else to breach peace in the state capital.”
When contacted on phone at 06:44pm (09/08/2913), the Delta state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Lucky Uyabame said he was yet to be briefed on the alleged plot by the DG, Igbini to storm Asaba with thugs but assured that he would confirm the reports.
Igbini is alleged to have misappropriated huge sums of money released by the state government for the purchase of equipment and road maintenance across the state. “He approves, he buys and sell alone. When he assumed office, he inherited over N1bn (One Billion naira) cash, aside equipment and he lied to the state government that he used the monies for the repairs of equipment.
“But now, over N2bn (Two Billion naira) given to him by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan for road intervention and maintenance is now being used by him to purchase scraps to make quick wealth”, a DLA source revealed.
All attempts by Blank NEWS Online to reach the DG of DLA was unsuccessful, just as it was disclosed that he had been directed not to speak yet on the issue, as he has continually refused to pick calls or reply to text messages.
Some Deltans who have spoken on the issue, on condition of anonymity said: “He (Emmanuel Igbini) is a desperate thief who claimed to have submitted to EFFC when he was without job and living on the benevolence of friends and relatives.He may not need to submit to EFFC now because EFFC now have a thousand and one reason to fish him out. With over N2.6 billion misappropriated by him I wonder why we should be begging EFFC to bring him to book.”
Another queried, “I wonder why somebody who claimed to have voluntarily submitted to EFCC should be scared of following due process in a government parastatal. Do EFFC probe jobless people who are living on charity? Who does he want to fool by such frivolous claims? What about the numerous family members that are being paid salaries as PAs and placed on permanent night allowances while residing in the comfort of their homes? What about the intense heat that DLA staff are subjected to under the guise of saving money by shutting down the generator that has been in use long before he assumed the office of DG? What about the allowances of the innocent staff of DLA that he seized and added to increase his own allowance to six hundred thousand monthly besides his salary as DG? What about the numerous inflated LPOs awarded to himself daily for purchases of various items ranging from construction materials to construction equipment most of which the agency do not have need of? What about exhuming dead and condemned equipment from the junk yard of various construction companies and claiming to have bought them at a price that could conveniently purchase a new equipment? The least is endless but does all of these befit the towering status of somebody who claimed to be the only honest Deltan?”
Yet another Deltan asked, “How did he find his way into such an exalted position as a sacked junior staff of ELF? We understand he wears coverall about trying to fool the masses yet he keeps siphoning govt funds and tax payers money under various guise ranging from inflated LPOs to fraudulent allowances.”
Persons who also have commented on the stories so far said, “We learnt some comrades (past leaders from outside DLA)who should know better have compromised by accepting LPO bribes to scuttle the legitimate struggle of DLA workers against the tyranny of Mr Igbini. Where therefore is the solidarity that was the hallmark of such struggles in the past?My advice to them is that that money you collected from Mr Igbini is not a secret because Mr Igbini is not good at keeping such issues secret(in fact he counts them as credit and not secret) and it is loaded with curses and the wrath of God because the entire staff of DLA are groaning, sweating, weeping and bleeding under that bribe. Be warned!”
Another submitted that, “Its been reported on news that NLC and TUC came to his aid once again and he was given another opportunity to … .Well, you have done well to broker peace here but I have my reservation about the communique he signed because I do not see Mr Igbini following due process. I feel for the staff of DLA whose careers are daily being toyed with and the NLC and TUC who may have to dedicate a greater part of their valuable time to secure his sojourn in DLA..I can assure you that you will have a hectic time this year if you intend to enforce his compliance to this seemingly simple agreement-complince to due process. WATCH OUT FOR HIS ACTION AND REACTION CONCERNING THE COMMUNIQUE THAT LED TO THE SUSPENSION OF THE STRIKE AND YOU WILL WISH THAT YOU WERE NEVER PART OF IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.WATCH OUT!”
But amazingly, the unperturbed and self-styled Comrade Engr. Igbini Odafe Emmanuel posted a comment in Blank NEWS Online about a story titled: DG Flees Office As Union Pickets DLA **Igbini Accused of Fraud, May Face EFCC Probe.”
The comment POSTED BY COMRADE ENGR IGBINI ODAFE EMMANUEL | SATURDAY, APRIL 13, 2013, 9:33 PM reads: “In fact I am now in EFCC Maximum Prison. I hope this breaking news makes you guys happy.”
Blank NEWS Online in its REPLY TO THIS COMMENT POSTED BY BLANKNEWSONLINE | SATURDAY, APRIL 13, 2013, 11:58 PM said, “You have a “Right Of Reply”…Send to Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Engr. Emmanuel Edafe Igbini, a former Chairman of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) in Delta State contested against Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan in 2007 and during the Court of Appeal-ordered rerun in the state, until his appointment in form of compensation on August 10, 2011 by Governor Uduaghan.