Owerri - The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in Imo said it sacked 24 members of staff involved in certificate fraud and illegal conversion.
The State Coordinator of NIMC, Basil Ihejirika, said in Owerri on Wednesday that the affected staff failed to prove the authenticity of their certificates and mode of conversion to various grade levels in the office.
He stressed that the issue of certificate falsification and mode of conversion of the affected staff had lingered on for over two years hence the management’s decision to sack them.
Ihejirika said a panel was set up to investigate claims by those concerned but that they refused to turn up.
"There is the issue of certificate falsification and it was also observed by the management that their conversion to various levels did not follow due process.
"For over two years, they have been called to explain to the panel but they refused to appear before it," he said.
Ihejirika added that those mainly affected were former staff of Department of National Civic Registration under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
"Those whose sack letters were to be handed to them on Tuesday got wind of the plan and embarked on a demonstration and locked out other members of staff."
He said the sack took effect from May 7.
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Ihejirika explained that the office had notified the Commissioner of Police in the state who ordered staff to enter their offices to continue their work.
"Those affected should look at the Act that set up the commission, which the management is following before engaging on their illegal agitations.
"The commission carries out thorough screening before engaging its staff because it wants to ward off people with questionable character and those who do not have the required and relevant certificates.
"We have been paying them without engaging them in any form of work for over two years and we don’t want that to continue," Ihejirika said.
Those protesting had anticipated their inclusion in the disengagement due to the query issued to them last year.
Secretary of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria in the state, Gamaliel Agbara, said they had commenced nationwide sympathy strike with those affected with effect from Tuesday.
"That is why the premises of the commission is locked.
"Since the commission does not want to respect the court and decided to sack our staff members nationwide, we don't have any option but to embark on this strike.
"Already, 1000 of our men have been sacked nationwide and 4,500 staff members have been disengaged since the present management of MIMC came on board," Agbara said.