Councilors elected on the platform of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) in the 18 local government councils of Edo State, on Wednesday, October 14, protested over alleged non-payment of their salaries, arrears, allowances and all other entitlements since May 2020 by Governor Obaseki.
The councilors said that they are being punished for their decision to remain in the APC instead of joining the State governor when he decamped to the PDP, on which platform he was elected, last month.
Carrying placards with various inscriptions including “they have raped democracy, you can’t force us out of our part, we have worked, pay us, the councillors marched to the secretariat of the Nigerian Union of Journalists to lodge their grievances.
Speaking to journalists, spokesman for the group, Hon. Emwinghare Osabuohien, alleged that the councillors, numbering 90, are owed because they refused to decamp to the Peoples Democratic Party with Gov. Godwin Obaseki while their colleagues, who decamped to the PDP were being paid their monthly salaries regularly.
“Today the world should know that as elected councilors numbering over ninety (90), we have not been paid our salaries since May 2020. Salaries and wages of the legislature is not a gift from the executive arm of government. All our rights, privileges and other entitlements have been stopped on the directive of the governor because of our democratic choice and right”.
Osabuohien added that, “Across the state, there have been illegal suspensions of elected and appointed government officials in 16 out of the 18 local government areas.
“A classic case is that which transpired in Uhunmwode Local Government Legislative Council with ten (10) councilors. Sanctioned by the governor, the only three (3) PDP councilors in the house sat on the 23rd of June, 2020 to suspend the seven (7) APC house members”.
He said that, “the illegal indefinite suspension, stoppage of salaries, allowances, benefits, overhead and the denial of the over 100 communities we represent of meaningful development on the basis of our political party affiliation is alien to our emerging democracy”.
The councilor said that they found no moral justification to decamp to the PDP and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to come to their rescue.
“We are being denied our right of freedom of association and democratic choice. We are being victimised for not decamping to PDP. We are also calling on the Oba of Benin and other well-meaning Nigerians and foreign embassies in Nigeria to wade into the matter.” he added.
The Councillors, however, appealed to the Governor to allow their various councils to pay them all arrears of their salaries, arrears, allowances and other entitlements.
However, the Commissioner for Information, Stewart Efe, told journalists that the allegation of non payment of five months salaries to the councillors was false.
Efe claimed the protest was politically-motivated and that the Obaseki-led administration did not owe anybody in the state.
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