For Secretary to the Cross River State Government Monday , October 5 was an ugly day as she narrowly escaped being lynched by streets sweepers and refuse evacuators in Calabar, the state capital, reports Edem Edem in Calabar
The Secretary to the Cross River State Government (SSG) Barrister Tina Agbor narrowly escaped being lynched by street sweepers and refuse evacuators in Calabar in the early hours of yesterday.
The SSG was at the Calabar Urban Development Authority (CUDA) Office along IBB road in Calabar for an official visit when the artisans mobbed almost lynched her. She was at the office to conduct a head count of the street sweepers and refuse evacuators as well as refuse trucks when the workers harassed her.
A source at the CUDA who spoke on condition of anonymity told The UNION that the SSG was almost attacked by the angry mob. The evacuators who are workers of CUDA said they are being owed over seven month’s salaries and the presence of the woman at their office and to carry out head count with a view to reducing the staff strengths.
They decried the attitude of government toward their welfare and salaries. According to them, there was no warning of the visit either by their boss or the government and she when came in unannounced and commenced the head count, it was clear what her motives were, to retrench some of them.
Unclear about her intentions and with no one to explain the developments that were unfolding before their very eyes, they decided to take pre-emptive action.
The workers held the SSG hostage for several hours; a source hinted that but for the quick intervention of security operatives who were contacted immediately and responded prompt Mrs Agbor would have been thoroughly manhandled by the infuriated workers.
“The SSG was seriously embarrassed and the assistance of the security operatives served her from further embarrassment. At the time our correspondent visited the CUDA office, thousands of workers were seen singing and dancing while others were seen discussing in a group.
Speaking with newsmen later in the day, the SSG confirmed being held hostage by the workers. Breathing heavily, obviously from fright as somebody who narrowly ran several kilometres, she said she was at CUDA to conduct headcounts of evacuators and sweepers when the workers confronted her.
She declared the workers who claimed to work at the authority are ghost workers, adding “they claimed to be over 200 workers, where do they work”?
She expressed surprise about the character of the workers and said that some of the workers whom she found with clutches and others who claimed to be workers came in from Akwa Ibom State and said to be sweepers in streets of Calabar.
“How true is that, a sweeper that sweeps roads in Calabar came in from Akwa Ibom to do that, how possible? These people are liars and we cannot continue this way. It is high time, we have to sanitize the system”, she said, noting that she was not happy with the situation.
“They claimed to be over 100 drivers, where are the trucks, we have fourteen trucks, two are the ones we are negotiating to buy from the contractors, look at the office there, all those trucks are not working, tell me where are the trucks that they claimed to have 100 drivers.
We are here to clean the system and we shall do that” she said. The SSG denied owing any refuse contractors in the state” but at the time of filling this report, fourteen heavy duty refuse trucks were still being parked at government office by contractors who claimed they are being owed for six months.
When contacted, the Executive Secretary of CUDA, Joe-Mary Ekeng Ita said the workers are not owed by the authority but maintained that they have refused to to clear the refuse because they are waiting for the money owed them by the government to be paid. He said that the CUDA has the ability to keep the streets clean but complaint of funds.
“If funds is made available to us, we shall clear the streets of refuse” he stated. But with the insistence of the SSG sanitise the place, the CUDA authority demanding to be paid for work done before returning to work and the determination of the aggrieved workers to hold their ground, there is no telling how the situation would be resolved in the nearest future.