Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State on Tuesday rejected the resignation of Bernard Odoh as the Secretary to the State Government; and instead announced his sack.
The governor said this when he received over 20,000 Ezza indigenes in the state who paid him a solidarity visit on Tuesday at the Government House in Abakaliki, the state capital.
According to him, the resignation letter by Mr Odoh was not acceptable as it was done on a public holiday.
The governor’s statement came after Mr Odoh on Monday tendered his resignation in a letter to the governor wherein he said he was not allowed the freedom to perform his duties and advise government on sensitive state policies.
However, in an announcement on Monday, the Commissioner for Information, Emmanuel Onwe, announced the acceptance of the resignation and also announced the appointment of Hyginus Nwokwu as his replacement.
But, Mr Umahi said the resignation of Mr Odoh, acceptance of same, and appointment of Mr Nwokpu were all null and void as they were done on a public holiday. He said the state government was investigating Mr Odoh for meddling in a murder investigation in his area before he tendered his resignation.
“When it (the resignation) happened, senior members of my cabinet came together and said let’s accept the resignation and wish him well. But I knelt down and said Lord, my heart is clean before this young man and if I be called of God let us leave the matter before God.
“I had called him on Saturday and said my son, murder case is very bad and we are doing investigation. I want you to come and see me so I can speak with you and advise you as a father and he agreed.
“Initially he was denying that there was no problem, but towards the end of our discussion he said to me that he would like to make one or two comments but I said when you come you can make them. So, he switched off his phone till Monday.
“On Monday he sent me a text that his health was failing him and that he was going to resign and he will let me know. Before you know, I started hearing and seeing that he has resigned on social media. So I am nullifying the acceptance that was done by government officials including the appointment of his replacement because they were all done on public holiday.
“But by the powers conferred on me as the governor of the state, I hereby announce the sack of Prof Odoh as SSG and the investigation about meddling in murder case must be carried out thoroughly,” the governor said.
Mr Umahi, thereafter, re-announced the appointment of Mr Nwokpu as SSG and ordered his swearing in by 4 p.m. today.
Reacting to the former SSG’s accusation that the state civil service is neglected, Mr Umahi said Mr Odoh’s accusation is far from the situation on ground.
“Go and check, if we are not the first in the payment of civil servants in the state, we will be the second. Go and find out, I challenge people all the time on this because we have the data.”
“It is this state that gratuity of retired civil servants have never been paid until we came on board. Now we have paid 40 percent of the gratuities to them. No Civil Servants is being owed salary and allowances.”
Earlier, the Commissioner for Water Resources in the state, Euphemia Nwali, who was one of the stakeholders that led the crowd on the solidarity visit said the people of Ezza, one of the largest clans in Ebonyi State, were solidly behind the governor.
“We are not in support of the actions of the former SSG. He didn’t consult any stakeholder or anybody in Ezza land before carrying out the action. We view his action as a betrayal,” she added.
Mr Odoh could not be immediately reached for comments on the governor’s accusations as his phone lines were switched off at the time of filing this report.