Journalist Suspended indefinitely
The Imo Broadcasting Corporation, IBC, has suspended a journalist with the Imo State Government, South-East Nigeria indefinitely for taking to Facebook to request her three months unpaid salary and the wages of her co-workers.
According to the officials of the broadcasting corporation, the Facebook post was an “embarrassment” to the Imo State government.
The suspended journalist recognized as Vivian Ottih is a lawyer and a senior editor with the government-owned IBC Orient FM radio station.
Ejes Gist gathered that she is the chairperson of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), in Imo State.
The suspended journalist on May 4th posted a message on Facebook begging Governor Hope Uzodinma’s media aide, Modestus Nwamkpa to make a case to the governor on behalf of the workers in the government-owned radio and television stations who were yet to get their February, March, and April salaries.
Mrs Ottih described Mr Uzodinma as a “humble” and “performing” governor
Ottih said the governor may not have been aware of the travails of the workers.
She said in the post that she was personally hard-hit by the situation because she just had a baby weeks earlier.
According to the journalist, she thanked the Commissioner for Information in the state, Declan Emelumba on the 7th of May for intervening on behalf of the unpaid workers. “God bless you, Sir.
Barely 96 hours after begging the Governor’s media aide to make a case with the governor, she was queried on May 8 by the Imo Broadcasting Corporation.
According to the query signed by the acting director-general of the corporation, Osuchukwu S. O which was forwarded to Mrs Ottih, “I am directed to let you know that this your attitude caused serious embarrassment to Imo State Government thereby ridiculing the government in the eyes of the public with the sole aim of sabotaging the government.”
Mrs Ottih’s response to the query was deemed unsatisfactory by the Imo government which went ahead to suspend her indefinitely from her job.
The state government queried the journalist again on May 15, accusing her of posting the previous query on social media.
Reacting to the development, the information commissioner, Mr Emelumba told newsmen that the government was not responsible for the delay in payment of the salary.
He said the management of the Imo Broadcasting Corporation “refused” to submit the workers’ BVN and bank account details as directed by the government.
Mr Emelumba said the government wanted to pay workers’ salary centrally in order to eliminate “ghost workers”, instead of allowing the various establishments to collect money from the state government to pay their staff as was done in the past.
Also reacting on the development, a journalist in Imo said that Mrs Ottih made the appeal for the payment of the workers’ salary because she was under pressure from fellow journalists who were also being owed by the state government.
Mr Emelumba said Mrs Ottih posted the Facebook message as an individual person, not as the NAWOJ chairperson.
“Even if she were to issue the statement on behalf of NAWOJ she would still be wrong because she could only speak for women journalists and not for all the workers of the IBC,” the commissioner said.
“RATTAWU (the radio Television Theatre and Art Workers Union of Nigeria) has the statutory duty to do that but they didn’t do that because they were consulting (with government officials over the issue).”
The commissioner said the NAWOJ chairperson could have used other channels of communication instead of taking the issue to Facebook.
Speaking on why the government did not sanction the corporation for delaying to send the bank details of their workers as requested by the government, Mr Emelumba said “If we did it as you would expect, people would accuse the government of being insensitive,” he responded.
The commissioner said he sent out a statement last week giving the parastatals a deadline to comply with the government directive.
“IBC has complied anyway; I think they are about getting their salary if they have not gotten it
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