New Nigerian Newspapers Staff Protest Non-Payment Of Entitlements

  • Issue 14 days ultimatum to Management, NGF Committee
  • Lament death of 102 staff members
  • Beg northern governors to respect VP Shettima’s directive

BY EDMOND ODOK – Disturbed by the non-payment of their entitlements, aggrieved workers of New Nigerian Newspapers (NNN) have issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Company’s management and the Committee saddled with the sales of its properties to settle their benefits or be ready to entertain unending protests.

They are also calling on the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) to compel the Company’s management, headed by Yusuf Musa Kontagora to, without any further delay, immediately pay all outstanding entitlements due to the affected workers.

This is as the aggrieved workers accused the NNN’s management of arbitrarily spending about 200 million Naira on contractors and other unknown expenditures in blatant neglect of the workers’ welfare.

Addressing the media on Tuesday in Kaduna as representatives of the Workers, the Chairman and Secretary of the Press Conference Committee,, Amos Mathew and Nicholas Dekera lamented that the Company Management have continued to demonstrate obvious lack of compassion in handling the workers’ plight.

According to their statement, it is unfortunate that all entreaties and peaceful engagement by the workers for the NNN management to abide by decisions of the Northern Governors Forum to offset the entitlements have fallen on deaf ears with no action taken in almost eight years running.

They recalled that the NGF, headed by the then Chairman, now Nigeria’s Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, at a meeting on April 29, 2016, in Kaduna, had “agreed for the total liquidation of the company and all its landed properties across the country to settle its liabilities once and for all.”

The statement said in pursuit of this decision, the Governors set up a committee with membership drawn from the Northern Capital Properties Limited (NCPL); New Nigerian Newspapers management, EFCC, and Office of the Secretary to the Kaduna State Government (SSG) to immediately undertake the sales of NNN properties to settle the outstanding liabilities.

The statement further noted that the former Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, to fast track the process for payment of workers benefits, facilitated the payment and liquidation of all outstanding pensions and gratuities of all Federal Government Workers under New Nigeria Newspapers by Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) in December 2021.

However, expressing unhappiness at the lukewarm manner in which their case has been handled over the years, the angry workers said; “Surprisingly NNN Management and the Committee that turned deaf ears to Northern Governors’ directives to pay workers went ahead to expressly spend about 200 Million Naira on contractors and other unknown expenditures out of the money realised without paying a penny to Workers,” the statement said.

It added that before the Northern Governors Forum directives for sales of New Nigerian Newspapers properties for settlement of workers entitlements, there was a court matter instituted by the pensioners at the Federal High Court, with suit number FHC/KD/CS/137.

The statement said that in early 2023 after PTAD verified and began payment of monthly pensions, the duo of Barrister Iweka and Idi Sule returned to court over an initial out-of-court settlement item- check-up dues, adding; “The Federal High Court in May 2022 garnished the GT Bank account number 0605091406 with the account name “New Capital Properties Ltd” where all monies realized for sales of properties was lodged into.

“The garnishee was vacated, but again the management and the committee failed to pay workers their benefits even with express orders from former Kaduna SSG to present documents for onward approval and payments.

“On July 14, 2022, a second garnishee was served on the same account, the claimant counsel before the honorable judge confirmed that there was only N20 million in the garnished account whereas the total lodgement as at that time was over N700 million naira.

“Questions on what happened to the balance, who withdrew the money and for what purpose was the money withdrawn for was never answered by the committee and the NNN management.”

Wondering why the NNN management is still footdragging on the matter, the statement said this is against the backdrop that the case has been abandoned as neither the claimant nor defendants have approached the Federal High Court for a new date after seven months of adjournment.

According to the statement, about 102 workers of the company have died while waiting for their benefits, with some bedridden, others chased out of their rented apartments, while a good number cannot feed their families.

The statement said that in October 2022 the former SSG of Kaduna, Balarabe Abbas Lawal, now Minister for Environment, approved three three-month in-lieu of notice payment for all in-house staff who were laid off as at that time but no single penny was paid.

Also noting that more than 90 percent of the company’s properties have been sold, with over N2.7 billion realized and allegedly kept inside the same account the company management and the committee claimed have been garnisheed, the workers said; “A very good example is the popular 10-storey Nagwamatse House in the heart of Kaduna city) the proceeds of which were allegedly deposited into the same bank account claimed to have been garnished”.

Going forward, the workers pleaded with the Northern Governors’ Forum to urgently intervene in the matter and ensure the distressed workers are paid all their outstanding entitlements in the overall interest of peace and love for humanity.

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