22 October 2017

Nigeria: Why We Didn't Pay Director's Salaries Before He Committed Suicide - Kogi Govt

Authorities in Kogi State on Sunday expressed shock at the death of a senior civil servant who reportedly committed suicideafter going months without pay.

But the state's head of service, Deborah Ogunmola, said the death of Edward Soje should not be blamed on Kogi State.

Mr. Soje, 54, was a director at Kogi State Teaching Service Commission until his sudden suicide on Friday evening.

His death was immediately connected to the impoverished state he was left after going months without being paid by state government.

His death reportedly came 10 days after his wife gave birth to a set of triplets. The News Agency of Nigeria said the couple had been childless since they got married 17 years ago.

But in her Sunday statement, Ms. Ogunmola said Mr. Soje was caught in false age declaration practices during a staff verification exercise introduced by Governor Yahaya Bello.

"His pay was stopped after proof emerged that he falsified his age records. His confession to the offence is on video," Ms. Ogunmola said.

Notwithstanding, the state decided to retain Mr. Soje in service following talks with labour union officials, the official said.

"Following engagements with Labour which spanned several months, the Kogi State Governor magnanimously commuted the disciplinary action due against certain categories of offenders by grant of pardon. Mr. Soje fell into one of the categories.

"Pardoned staff were processed for reinstatement and payment in batches. Mr. Soje was in the September 2017 batch and he was aware of this fact.

"The Kogi State Teaching Service Commission where he works has forwarded a template for payment to Government and Mr. Soje was aware that he was listed to receive six months back pay, leaving only two months (August and September) outstanding.

"Edward Soje was not just my staff; he was also married to my sister-in-law. His death is shocking, both as one related to him in some way, and one responsible for him in an official capacity."

The state government has endured public backlash since the news of Mr. Soje's demise became public knowledge Saturday.


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