‘We Are Not Slaves’ – Akwa Ibom Govt Condemns Maltreatment Of Workers By Foreign Firm

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Akwa Ibom State Government says it will not condone any engagement of the services of Akwa Ibom workers without fulfilling the globally accepted conditions of employment whether in the public or private sector.

The government made its position known while reacting to allegations of flagrant disrespect and non compliance to rules of engagement of workers by Sterling Global Petrochemical Company, a foreign oil prospecting firm.

The government maintained that it will stop at nothing to ensure that the dignity of Akwa Ibom and it’s residents is respected, and that no one is exploited while diligently going about his duties.

The position of the government was expressed by the Director General of Government Business, and former Nigeria’s Ambassador to Russia and the Belarus, Assam Assam, who is the chairman of a mediation committee between the erring oil firm and the affected communities in Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin and Eastern Obolo local government areas.

He said Sterling Global ought to learn from the labour friendly disposition of Governor Umo Eno, and be a good corporate citizen of the State, failure of which the State Government will revoke the land given to the company to operate in Akwa Ibom State.

He said: “We cannot accept this in any part of Akwa Ibom State. You cannot reduce our people to slaves in their land. We must see the nominal roll of your employees. We must know exactly what you are doing so that people will not import arms into our State in the name of bringing in machines and equipment.

“In fact, as it stands now, we do not even know who you are working for or who is working for you because other firms are equally involved. We cannot put the people at such risk,” Chief Assam fumed, and directed that the representatives of the oil firm be compelled to clear the air.

Commissioner for Labour and Productivity Mr. Aniefiok Nkom said Sterling Global has shown great irresponsibility in its operations, with total disregard to court orders and turning down of invitations by the State Government to mediate in the lingering issues.

Executive Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service, Mr Okon Okon disclosed that Sterling Global has neither paid a dime as tenament tax nor PAYE tax to the State Government, as their operations are shrouded in secrecy, giving them out as people with a deliberate mission on tax evasion.