Lokoja—Kogi State government, yesterday, admitted that it owed the late Mr. Edward Soje eight months unpaid salaries before he committed suicide on October 16, and not the 11 months reported in some quarters.
The state’s Head of Service, HoS, Mrs Deborah Ogunmola, admitted this in a statement in Lokoja, saying late Soje received his monthly salary up till December 2016, when it was suddenly stopped by the government.
According to the statement, “his pay was stopped after proof emerged that he falsified his age records. His confession to the offence is on video to justify government stoppage of his salary.”
Soje, a Director in the Teaching Service Commission, was found hanging from a tree behind Army Barracks in Lokoja.
He was among workers being owed arrears of salaries ranging from two to 21 months by the state government.
Ogunmola explained that following engagements with Labour, which spanned several months, the Kogi governor magnanimously commuted the disciplinary action against Soje and other certain categories of offenders by granting them pardon.
She added: “Pardoned members of staff were processed for reinstatement and payment in batches. Mr. Soje was in the September batch and he was aware of this fact.
“The Kogi State Teaching Service Commission, where he worked, has forwarded a template for payment to government and Mr. Soje was aware that he was listed to receive six months backlog.”
According to her, this leaves only two months (August and September) outstanding. Ogunmola, who also hails from Ogori, same town as Soje, said government was saddened in no small measure by the alleged action of Soje.
She described Soje as a Level 16 Officer and a director in the Kogi State Civil Service, and faulted media reports attributing Soje’s alleged decision to commit suicide to non-payment of salary.
She said: “Edward Soje was not just my staff. He was married to my sister-in-law. His death is shocking, both as one related to him in some way and one responsible to him in an official capacity.
“I met with him earlier last week and we discussed his situation, including the progress made in resolving his employment issues. There was no hint of this horrible decision in his demeanour.
“He did not appear to me as one who was depressed, let alone contemplating suicide. I am, therefore, understandably shocked by this.”