Kogi State Govt Reacts To News Of State Director That Committed Suicide Over Unpaid Salary

Late director who committed suicide was paid last in December' Kogi state govt says

The Kogi state government has denied claims that the 54-year-old director in its state civil service, Edward Soje, who committed suicide recently 10 days after his wife of 17 years welcomed a set of male triplets, had not received his salary in 11 months.

The story of the deceased who was found dangling from a tree in Lokoja, the state capital on Saturday, hit the media yesterday.

Family sources had claimed the deceased had been under serious financial pressure after her had not received his salary for 11 months. His pressure heightened recently when his wife, a civil servant as well, welcomed a set of male triplets. They had been childless since they got married.

In a swift reaction, the state government in a statement released by the state's Head of Service, Deborah Ogunmola today, said the deceased was last paid his salary in December 2016 and that his salary had been delayed this year because he was discovered to have falsified his age before entering the service.

Ogunmola who claims to be a relative of the wife of the deceased, said Soje could not have committed suicide because of unpaid salary because he had been listed to receive six months salary arrear soon.

The statement in part reads, "The Kogi State Government is saddened in no small measure by the alleged suicide of Mr. Edward Soje, a level 16 officer and director in the Kogi State Civil Service. He was attached to the Teaching Service Commission.

I am appalled by the media reports on Edward Soje’s death and the certainty by the media that he committed suicide and that he did it due to non-payment of his salaries by his employer, the Kogi State Government.

For the records, these are the facts surrounding Mr. Soje’s employment with the Kogi State Government: He continued to receive his salaries till December, 2016 even while the Staff Screening and Verification Exercise was ongoing. His pay was stopped after proof emerged that he falsified his age records.

His confession to the offence is on video. 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. 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.

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 neither did he appear to me as one who was depressed, let alone contemplating suicide. I am therefore understandably shocked by all of this.

We use this opportunity to implore the fourth estate of the realm to always strive to verify information before going to the public especially when lives are involved, and to avoid causing unnecessary distress. Facts are sacred and must be so revered. Government condoles with his family, especially his wife and three children. While we will not intrude into their grief over their sad loss, we will stand with them through this'.
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