ENUGU, Nigeria – A group of lawyers from Southeast Nigeria, Oriental Lawyers for Justice, OLJ, issued a stern warning to Enugu State Governor Peter Mbah, cautioning him against implementing threats to penalise civil servants who fail to report for duty on Mondays due to the Sit-At-Home order imposed by the banned Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
Last week, Governor Mbah threatened to take strict actions against government employees who do not go to work on Mondays, claiming that the order by IPOB is adversely affecting the economy and social life of Enugu State.
Despite the governor’s threats, many civil servants did not report for work due to fear of violent attacks by IPOB members.
In a statement on Monday, July 3, 2023, signed by the president of OLJ, John Bosco Aninwede, and the secretary, Ifeoma Ejike, the lawyers accused Governor Mbah of using the fight against IPOB as a cover to possibly retrench a significant number of state employees and vent his frustration over public disapproval of his administration, which they termed as illegitimate.
The lawyers argued that it is unrealistic to expect civil servants to go to work when they are at risk of being attacked by IPOB members, and further highlighted the lack of adequate transportation for the majority of the employees.
They criticized the governor’s approach to fighting against IPOB and his lack of provision of any protective measures for civil servants.
The statement reads in part, “Mbah can’t be allowed to get away with blue murder. How does he expect workers to go to work on a day people are routinely killed in Enugu and other Southeastern states in the most callous manner by IPOB members?”
The lawyers further suggested that Governor Mbah’s intention might be to reduce the state’s workforce under the pretext of combating insecurity.
They termed his attempt to link the failure of his fight against IPOB with civil servants who do not go to work on Mondays as unfair.
While stating that they do not have sympathy for IPOB, which they accused of spreading hate and terror, the lawyers emphasized that it is unrealistic to expect workers to report for duty without security assurances or adequate transportation.
They criticized the governor for not providing buses for civil servants like other state governments have done to ease transportation challenges.
The lawyers’ organization warned that they will not hesitate to take actions against the state administration if it interferes with the livelihood of civil servants during this challenging period.
They described Governor Mbah as a “high public office usurper” and claimed that the people of Enugu are eager to see him leave office.