Industrial dispute at Radio Bayelsa, christened Glory FM, has distorted its operation as the General Manager, John Idumange, flogged four staffs on duty, however some report had said the staffers were whipped by suspected thugs.
The Radio Bayelsa Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Radio Television and Theatre Arts Workers Unions (RATTAWU) consequently shut the radio station.
Briefing newsmen on Thursday in Yenogoa, NUJ Chairman in Radio Bayelsa, Tonye Yemoleigha, said that he and three female staff were caned by the General Manager of the Station.
“Four of us, myself and three female staff were flogged by Idumange himself. The report that it was thugs is inaccurate. It was the General Manager himself. The blisters on the skin are more severe for the ladies.
“We have reported the matter to the Ekeki Police Division and sought medical attention at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa. Workers have been constantly intimidated and threatened.
“John Angese, Bayelsa Council Chairman of NUJ who is a staff of Radio Bayelsa has also been threatened with a sack, we are all being victimized for insisting that the General Manager complies with Public Service rules.
“We have been under siege since the General Manager was appointed in December 2016. We are not opposed to repositioning the station which is in our interest but we want the procedure to follow due process,” Yemoleigha said.
He added that workers of the station are not opposed to staff redeployment, but the unions should also be part of the process to ensure that the best hands are not sacrificed on the altar of nepotism, sentiment or witch-hunt.
“We are also aware of the alleged over N5 million naira payroll fraud which Idumange claimed to have uncovered and has referred to the Police for investigation.
“Ordinarily, in line with established procedures, an Investigative Panel should have been instituted to look into the matter and come up with a report with which management would act as appropriate.
“All these are expressly spelt out in the Public Service Rules; however, we are requesting for a copy of the police report after their investigation.
“We have asked management to properly discipline everyone involved in an established case of running the salary of a staff who resigned with effect from August 2016,” he explained.
Idumange, however, dismissed the allegations that he flogged staffs of the station, saying that the unions were being used to sabotage his efforts at re-positioning the station which was in a deplorable state before his appointment.
According to him, there was no going back on his reform efforts as they have received the blessings of the supervising Bayelsa Ministry of Information.
“This small radio station has 346 workers; employment and job placement have never followed due process, we are currently reorganizing the place and they are resisting our efforts.
“Those ghost workers must be fished out and the payroll cleaned up. The wage bill of the station is N35 million monthly and it is not sustainable. My predecessor incurred a debt of N40 million.
“The unions are being instigated by the Heads of Department affected in the illegal recruitment, and those who came into that place through the back door,” he said.