Apos­tle Sule­man ‘un­der in­struc­tion not to grant in­ter­view’

Mixed re­ac­tions trail con­tro­ver­sial al­leged state­ment

Weekly Trust - - News - Itodo Daniel Sule, Lokoja

The re­cent re­lease of the fi­nal re­port of staff screen­ing ex­er­cise em­barked upon by the Kogi State gov­ern­ment al­most a year ago, has been gen­er­at­ing dis­cor­dant tunes amongst civil ser­vants, labour unions and other stake­hold­ers af­fected neg­a­tively. Gov­er­nor Yahaya Bello had on Fe­bru­ary 22, 2016 in­au­gu­rated a staff screen­ing and ver­i­fi­ca­tion com­mit­tee headed by re­tired Gen­eral Paul Okun­timo, with the task of screen­ing out ‘ghost work­ers’ from the state’s work­force.

But com­plaints of high­hand­ed­ness and other sundry al­le­ga­tions against Gen. Okun­timo soon fol­lowed, so the gov­er­nor re­placed him with Dr. Jerry Ag­baje. The com­mit­tee com­pleted its field work and submitted its re­port to the state gov­ern­ment on June 22, 2016, but the re­port was said to have been “marred by sub­stan­tial fraud and high level ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties” ac­cord­ing to a Back-Up Com­mit­tee set up by gov­ern­ment.

The gov­er­nor dis­banded the main com­mit­tee and up­graded the Back-Up Com­mit­tee led by the State’s Au­di­tor Gen­eral, Al­haji Yakubu Okala, to as­sume re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for an­other round of screen­ing. The com­mit­tee submitted its re­port on July 26, 2016 with its find­ings re­port­edly in­di­cat­ing that out of the 88,973 peo­ple it screened at the state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment lev­els, 18, 211 were clas­si­fied as ghost work­ers and un­in­tended ben­e­fi­cia­ries of pay­ments from gov­ern­ment cof­fers.

The com­mit­tee in its re­port in­di­cated that the state gov­ern­ment would make a monthly sav­ing of N1.3 bil­lion af­ter re­port­edly weed­ing out till fur­ther no­tice. Thanks for the thought.”

sought to speak with mem­bers of his fam­ily as well, but tight se­cu­rity around them pre­vented it.

Res­i­dents of Auchi pre­sented a mixed-bag of opin­ion on Sule­man and the state­ment cred­ited to him: Abu Ibrahim, an Okada rider, said Auchi and en­vi­rons are not known for re­li­gious cri­sis and vi­o­lence, but with Sule­man’s com­ment, that could change. “He is a re­li­gious leader whose in­cit­ing com­ment can lead to breach of peace, as his fol­low­ers be­lieve in his words. Se­cu­rity agents should not over­look it.”

On his part, Jude Elvis be­lieves that Apos­tle Sule­man was only de­fend­ing Chris­tians, as “Gov­ern­ment has aban­doned them to their fate”. He added: “They’ve been killing Chris­tians in South­ern Kaduna and gov­ern­ment has done noth­ing. Apos­tle Sule­man spoke his mind and at­tempt­ing to ar­rest him based on that is wrong and might cause prob­lems.”

An­other res­i­dent who gave his name as John, how­ever said he feels re­li­gious lead­ers should be mind­ful of their ut­ter­ances. “Chris­tian­ity is a re­li­gion of peace and Auchi peo­ple are peace­ful peo­ple, and that must be sus­tained. And for that to be sus­tained, the ac­tiv­i­ties of Fu­lani herds­men, es­pe­cially the trou­ble­some ones, must be checked by se­cu­rity agen­cies,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to John, two wrongs do not make a right. He added that the DSS should have in­vited Sule­man for ques­tion­ing.

Apos­tle Sule­man’s church

Kogi work­ers in Gov­ern­ment House, Lokoja, protest­ing prob­lems aris­ing from the screen­ing.

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