• As Staff Say He Must Go
Federal Secretariat, Abuja went on “fire” on Friday, September 21, 2018 as the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC) protested against the administrative style of the Commission’s Director General, Mr. Afam Ezekude, asking for his “immediate sack, prosecution and imprisonment.”
The staff’s protest which brought activities in the premises to a standstill was informed by what they described as the high-handed approach of the D G to matters concerning them as well as the functions of the Commission which they said ran contrary to the mandate of the establishment.
Among other grouses the staff have against their boss is his alleged refusal to pay robe allowances to the lawyers in the employ of NCC since 2012, against the directive of the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice via a circular he issued in 2014.
A source in NCC told www.beats-onit.com.ng that despite the agreement entered into among the ASCSN, the DG and the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the NCC boss has been hell bent on frustrating it, adding that he had not been in the office in over a week.
Below is the full text of their Grievances and position statement:
Payment of 1st 28 days allowance to over 200 staff owed since 2011 as a matter of priority.
Reorganization of the Administration Department of the Commission as well as appointment of a competent and experienced Director to head the department within one month to ensure professionalism and smooth running of the Commission.
Review and withdrawals of all queries / warning letters issued to officers as a result of their participation in union activities in 2015.
Development of comprehensive Administration structure /organization within one month from the date of the communiqué for the purpose of getting the approval establishment from office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
Training of Procurement officers to handle the procurement needs of the Commission.
Holding of regular town hall meeting with its staff to address burning industrial issues in order to discuss and nip in the bud issues capable of escalating to industrial action.
Over six (6) months down the line, Mr. Ezekude has refused to implement the agreement and is surreptitiously deferring the issues to his successor to inherit. However, the Senior Staff of the Commission is strongly saying NO to the game plan giving rise to the ongoing industrial action in the Commission.
The Association as a noble organization had issued a fourteen (14) day ultimatum to Mr. Ezekude sometime in May, 2018 but he paid deaf ears to the request. Similarly, the Association had written several letters requesting for a meeting of the Union Exco and the management amongst such are letters dated 27th July, 2018 and August 3rd, 2018 respectively all to no avail. The letters of request for urgent meeting was also copied to the Honourable Attorney General & Minister of Justice being the supervising Minister and Hon. Minister of Labour & Employment.
The Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige intervened and convened series of meetings between the Commission’s Management and staff on the 4/9/18, 11/09/18, 12/09/18 and 14/09/18 respectively but Mr. Ezekude flouted all the dates, and instead wrote a disdainful letter to the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment.
It was against this background that the Senior Staff of the Commission on Monday 17th September, 2018 commenced an industrial action which is ongoing.
Till date, Mr. Ezekude has not deemed it necessary as a responsible Chief Executive to address the workers and find amicable solution, rather Mr. Ezekude is moving round boasting that when the workers are tired, they will rescind.
The Senior Staff on the other hand has also vowed that until Mr. Ezekude is sacked, investigated, and prosecuted; the Industrial action will persist and they will intensify their yearnings even until the 1st week of December, 2018 when the purported illegal tenure renewal will expire by effluxion of time.
The present demands of staff include:
Release of 2017 promotion result conducted 9 months ago.
Securing of the comprehensive administrative structure /organization of the Commission.
Securing 2018 approved establishment.
Suspension of the Director Administration, Mr. Bitrus Dauda and setting up a disciplinary committee to investigate his earning of about 3million naira illegally earned as 2014 December salary.
Funding of the two staff nominated to participate in the procurement training in Lagos.
Reversal of vindictive posting of staff to departments outside their professional Cadre in accordance with Rule 020506(ii) of the Public Service Rules.
Payment of repatriation allowances owed staff who retired since 2012.
Payment of burial expenses to the family of our deceased colleagues
Payment of estacode allowances, DTAs and other allowances owed staff since 2012.
Payment of robe allowance and practicing fees owed lawyers in the Commission since 2012.
Setting up a disciplinary committee to investigate the official leakages of confidential information in the registry as proposed by the report of a disciplinary committee in 2016.
Setting up a disciplinary committee to investigate the financial impropriety of Mr. Mike Akpan, special Adviser to the DG, Mr. Collins Nweke Personal Assistant to the DG and Mr. Kenneth Omewn, Protocol Officer to the DG.
It could be recalled that Mr. Ezekude and some of his cronies are presently being investigated by the DSS, ICPC and EFCC over allegation of abuse of office, forgery, misappropriation of the Commission funds, award of contracts to fictitious companies such as Samorite, Brass Dot and others which Mr. Ezekude has personal interest.
It is in view of the above issues that the ASCSN in the Commission is protesting, calling on the Federal Government under the leadership of His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari the avowed anti corruption crusader to intervene and save the Agency responsible for the protection of intellectual property rights by sacking Mr. Afam Ezekude and cause a thorough investigation of his criminal activities in the Commission.
We hope that our yearnings shall receive the desired attention to avert the ongoing industrial disharmony in the Commission.
Dated this 20th day of September, 2018.
Comrade Ihuma Okwu Moses
Com. Kunle Olatunji