Epunchng - Most read newspaper in Nigeria 13th-September-2017 - Page 36

36 WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2017 transport Ex-NICON Airways workers seek implementation of N1bn court order Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi E x-workers of the defunct NICON Airways said that four years after the National Industrial Court, Abuja had ordered the promoters of the airline to pay them N1bn as benefit accruing from unpaid salaries and allowances, the judgement was yet to be implemented. The ex-workers, who spoke to journalists on the issue, alleged that the former management of the airline had evaded justice by refusing to pay them. One of the affected workers, Mr. Charles Nwafor, told journalists that about 20 members of staff of the defunct airline had died in the last few years while waiting for the payment. He said many of them, including one Moshood Abdul, had died due to lack of resources to attend to their urgent medical needs. According to him, Abdul who died at Gbagada General Hospital, Lagos, could not raise N100,000 for his medical expenses. Nwafor stated, “Jimoh Ibrahim filed for an appeal against the National Industrial Court judgment, but was struck out again on May 23, 2017, but he refused to obey the judgment. Since it was delivered, he’s in fact evading judgement and has even vowed not to obey it. “Our members are dying one after the other, but he is junketing all over the world.” The workers said the NIC sitting in Abuja had awarded 250 of them about N1bn as unpaid salaries and allowances, following the sudden closure of the airline, which was acquired by Ibrahim from former Kogi State Governor, Capt. Idris Wada in 2007. They added that the 21-page court judgment by Justice M.N. Esowe on September 16, 2013, ordered the management to pay outstanding arrears of leave allowances, crew allowances, overseas unpaid allowances in the United States dollars and cumulative unremitted cooperative by the staff between May 2007 and April 2011 to the ex- workers, all totalling over N1bn. They stated that the airline was supposed to pay a total of N16.4m as pension funds to the workers; N8.1m as the cumulative contributions to the Nigeria Social and Insurance Trust Fund, which was deducted from the workers’ salaries and entitlements within the period but not remitted and another payment of N808.7m as the aggregate arrears of the workers’ salaries for the period, among others. According to them, the judgment with Suit NO.NICON/LA/192/2011 identified Mr. Henry Iwelunmo, Mr. Lukman Kolawolem, Mr. George Omoniyi and Mrs. Eunice Odey as plaintiffs while NICON Airways, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim and Capt. Idris Ichalla Wada were the defendants. The ex-workers said Esowe in his judgment accused Ibrahim and Wada of abandoning the employment of the first defendant and carting away all the assets of the defendant without any communication and discussion with the plaintiffs on their contracts of employment and subsisting entitlements from the first defendant.