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Akwa Ibom Government Threatens Sanctions Against Sterling Global Petrochemical Company for Worker Maltreatment

The Akwa Ibom State Government has issued a stern warning to Sterling Global Petrochemical Company, a foreign oil prospecting firm operating in the Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin, and Eastern Obollo local government areas, over allegations of maltreatment of indigenous workers. The government mandated the company to present the employment status of all its workers, including expatriates, or risk having its licenses and land revoked.

Chief Assam Assam, SAN, the Director General of Government Business and former Nigerian Ambassador to Russia and Belarus, who chairs the mediation committee between the oil firm and the affected communities, issued this warning on Monday. This was in response to accusations of the company’s blatant disrespect and non-compliance with employment regulations.

Chief Assam emphasized that any engagement of Akwa Ibom workers must meet globally accepted employment conditions, whether in the public or private sector. He condemned the company’s alleged insensitivity and intimidation tactics, noting that the government would not tolerate any actions that diminish the rights of Akwa Ibom citizens.

“Sterling Global must adopt the labor-friendly policies of Governor Umo Eno and act as a responsible corporate citizen,” said Assam. “Failure to comply will result in the revocation of land and licenses granted by the state. We will not allow our people to be treated as second-class citizens or slaves in their land. We must have a clear record of all employees and their roles to prevent the illegal importation of arms under the guise of bringing in machinery.”

Assam further stated, “Failure to meet these demands will lead to the revocation of all licenses and lands allocated to you by the Akwa Ibom state government. We will also prevent any unidentified expatriates from working within your facilities to ensure no arms are smuggled into our communities.”

Commissioner for Labour and Productivity, Mr. Aniefiok Nkom, criticized Sterling Global for its irresponsible operations and disregard for court orders and state government invitations to mediate the ongoing issues. Mr. Okon Okon, the Executive Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Internal Revenue Service, revealed that Sterling Global has not paid any tenement or PAYE taxes to the state, accusing the company of operating with the intent to evade taxes.

The transition committee chairmen for Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin, and Eastern Obolo LGAs expressed their frustration over the hardships imposed by Sterling Global, commending the state government for intervening as the situation had become intolerable.

In a meeting, Sterling Global’s Human Resource Manager, Mr. David Walker, was asked to present a list of the company’s employees. He admitted that he did not have the list but stated that 3,710 people were working on the company’s projects. Walker presented a document outlining the company’s conditions of service but clarified that it did not include details about expatriates.

“These are the conditions of service for the categories of people currently working on the project,” said Walker. When asked if the document covered the positions and salaries of expatriates, Walker responded, “No sir, because the expatriates are not Nigerians. This condition of service is only for the nationals.”

The Akwa Ibom State Government’s ultimatum to Sterling Global underscores its commitment to protecting the rights and welfare of its citizens and ensuring corporate accountability within its jurisdiction.

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