Workers of New Nigerian Newspapers, NNN, have given the management of the company and the committee saddled with the sales of its properties 14 days ultimatum to pay their benefits or face more protests.
A statement issued by representatives of the workers, Amos Mathew and Nicholas Dekera, on Tuesday in Kaduna, urged the Northern Governors’ Forum to compel the management of the company, headed by Mr Yusuf Musa Kontagora, to immediately pay all NNN workers all entitlements without any further delays.
The statement explained that the Northern Governors Forum, headed by the then Chairman, now Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima, at a meeting on April 29, 2016, in Kaduna, agreed for the total liquidation of the company and all its landed properties across the country to settle its liabilities once and for all.
Pursuant to the aforementioned, the statement stated that a committee was set up with it membership drawn from Northern Capital Properties Limited (NCPL), New Nigerian Newspaper management, EFCC and Office of the Kaduna SSG which commenced sale of NNN properties immediately.
The former Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, in order to fast tract 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.
“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 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.
It said, “The Federal High Court in May 2022 garnished the GT Bank account number 0605091406 with 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.”
The statement explained that at the a moment, the case has been abandoned as neither the claimant or defendants have approached the Federal High Court for a new date after seven months 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 month in-lieu of notice payment for all in-house staff who were laid off as at that time but no single penny paid.
The workers noted that more than 90 per cent of the company’s properties have been sold, with over N2.7 billion realized but allegedly kept inside the same account the company management and the committee claimed have been garnisheed.