Stakeholders Decry Alleged Manipulations On Who Heads Cross River Fire Service 

May 9, 2024 - 03:59
 0  122
Stakeholders Decry Alleged Manipulations On Who Heads Cross River Fire Service 

By Ndifereke BASSEY 

Stakeholders have decried the alleged manipulations on who becomes the Cross River new head of fire service.

THE BEAGLE NEWS checks revealed that since the retirement of Mr Sylvester Ndifon as head of service the position has been under contention by various interested parties even as civil and public service rules are very explicit and strict on appointment of person into the office.

These activities of some persons have come under severe criticism by stakeholders and observers who say such moves are unwholesome and should be put to an end immediately.

Speaking on the issue, Mr Augustine Idung Ekpe, a top civil servant, said the first move was the alleged illegal placement of Mr Ukorebi Peter who later handed over to Emmanuel Ajom said to be the rightful person to head the place based on seniority in service and years of employment.

He said: "When everyone thought the matter had been put to rest with Ukorebi handing over, the underhand plans to impose a surrogate of their choice continued and another person, Mr Sylvester Otugbo was brought in surreptitiously to occupy the position.

"Fire Service being a paramilitary, employment is done in squads. The squad which Ndifon who recently retired belonged was Squad 14 while the Squad Mr Ajom was recruited is 15. Otugbo was recruited into Squad 16.

"Essentially, headship of the Fire Service is done in Squads. After the exit of Squad 14, the mantle falls on Squad 15. The Squad 16 which Otugbo belongs has nothing to do with leadership of the place until the exit of Squad 15" Ekpe declared.

Another civil servant, Dr Sylvanus Effiom, disclosed that, "from credible records, Ajom was recruited in 1995 on GL 04 and was promoted to GL 05 in 1997 when Otugbo joined the service on GL 04. 

"In 1999, when Otugbo was promoted to GL 05 Ajom was promoted to GL 06, in 2001 when Otugbo was promoted to GL 06 Ajom was promoted to GL 07. In 2003 Otugbo was promoted to GL 07 while in2004 Ajom was promoted to GL 08, in 2006, Otugbo was promoted to GL 08 while in 2007 Ajom was promoted to GL 09.

" In 2009 Otugbo was promoted to level GL 09 a rank Ajom earned since 2007. One year after getting level 09 Otugbo was immediately promoted to GL 10 in 2016 Otugbo was promoted again to level 13 and immediately again after one year same Otugbo was promoted to level 14 in 2017 in total aberration to the Cross River State Civil Service Extant laws which provides for three years interval for promotion. 

"Ajom progressed steadily in line with the civil service rules of three years up to level 15 which made him the most senior officer in the Fire Service and therefore most qualified to be the State Director of Fire Service in line with Civil Service rules.

"Again , the gazette on Fire Service rules by the Donald Duke administration provides that only graduates of Environmental Protection and Resource Management, Engineering and Architecture should be recruited to the Fire Service. 

"But Mr Otugbo only has a two-weeks Fire Engineering workshop certificate which he parades as his qualification while Ajom is a graduate of Environmental Protection and Resource If Otugbo claims he has a degree, he should present it and the letter of conversion" .

Also a source in the state House of Assembly, who aimplybgave his name as Jeremiah Asibong, explained that when the matter went to the Assembly for enquiry, the Head of Service represented by Dr Atim Bassey, the Permanent Secretary presented two persons as the highest ranking in the Fire Service, Mr Otugbo was not among them.

"The Head of Service at the time did not complain only for him to bring someone else two weeks after as the highest ranking officer in the Fire Service which speaks volumes of his plans and motives".

"It is based on the detailed evaluation of these facts that the Cross River State House of Assembly led by its Speaker, Rt Hon Elvert Ayambem, directed the Head of Service ,Dr Innocent Eteng, to reinstate Ajom as the State Director of Fire Service in accordance to the Civil Service rules," he stated.