According to Deborah Ogunmola, Kogi state head of service, the circumstances surrounding the death of Edward Soje, a grade level 16 officer with the state teaching service commission, is misconstrued.
She stated that the 54-year-old Soje was said to have hanged himself on a tree close to the Maigumeri Barracks of the Nigerian Army, in the state capital, Lokoja due to him being owed 11 months salaries and that his wife gave birth to triplets.
According to her, Soje was paid till December 2016 until “proof emerged that he falsified his age records”. He was however pardoned and had been forwarded a template for payment before the unfortunate incidence.
She said’, “I am appalled by the media reports on Edward Soje’s death. 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,” the statement read.
“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. Soje was in the September 2017 batch and he was aware of this fact.
“The Kogi State 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 6 months back pay, leaving only 2 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.”