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Buhari’s Minister In N21.5m Debt Scandal, Dragged To Industrial Court

Peter Okunoren

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Two former aides to the Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, on Tuesday, dragged the minister before an Abuja Division of the National Industrial Court (NIC) over twenty-one million, five hundred thousand Naira (N21,500,000.00) unpaid salaries and allowances.

They were former Personal Assistant to the minister, Razaq Olubodun and Special Assistant on Media, Victor Oluwadamilare.

The duo in their separate suits filed by their counsel, Adewale Lawal prayed the court to order the payment of their outstanding salaries and allowances which the Minister allegedly denied them while serving under him.

Olubodun, in his suit numbered NICN/Abj/132/2019 is seeking to recover from the Minister the sum of N9.8m allegedly paid alongside the Minister’s salaries and allowances for 24 months.

It was gathered that no fewer than seven aides of the minister have resigned due to issues bordering on nonpayment of salaries and allowances since he (Shittu) was appointed in 2015.

Recall that Olubodun resigned after failed attempts to reclaim his salaries from the Minister.

Oluwadamilare in his suit, NICN/Abj/133/2019 is claiming N11.7m being his outstanding salaries and allowances for 28 months.

He also resigned after failed attempts to reclaim his salaries from the Minister.

The duo are seeking the order of the court to declare that the non-payment of full salaries and allowances to them for those periods as wrongful, illegal and unconstitutional.

They urged the court to order the minister to pay them their unpaid salaries and allowances according to the Federal Government directive for payment of aides to the Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The claimants are asking for an order on the defendant to pay the sum of N50m to each of them and to also pay them their full taxed costs of the prosecution of the suits. They averred that by their letters of appointments as PA and SA respectively, they were informed that their monthly emolument would be in line with the existing practice for paying PA and SA to Hon. Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Though, the claimants noted that the above-stated fact was indicated in the ‘paragraph 3′ of their letters of appointments dated 23rd Nov. 2015, the defendant “tried to make the salaries and allowances of PA and SA to Hon. Minister to look like his own personal affairs. The defendant tried to indicate this by an Internal Memo, seven months after the claimants’ appointments”.

While Olubodun claimed to have received just N1m all through his period of service from the Minister, Oluwadamilare disclosed that he was paid thrice to the tune of N2.3m in his 28 months of service under the Minister, yet, the defendant was alleged to have collected all salaries and allowances belonging to them from the FGN and refused to forward or remit same to them.

The claimants recalled that based on the circular from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) dated 27th July, 1999, it indicated in paragraph 1a that the salaries of PAs and SAs to the Ministers are Grade Levels 12 and 16, steps 4 respectively.

The Minister was accused by the former aides of applying intimidation, harassment, draconian and Machiavellian approach and threatened to take them to the court where he would ensure that they are frustrated and would still not pay them the salaries in contention each time they demanded for their rights while serving under him.

The claimants disclosed that they have been subjected to immense sufferings, ridicule and untold hardship as a result of the denial of their rights by the Minister.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the case in which both the PA and SA presented 35 and 40 statements of facts respectively.

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BIG STORY

FG Suspends Evacuation Of Stranded Nigerians

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The Federal Government has suspended the further evacuation of stranded Nigerians overseas.

The development, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama is to allow take-off of a new policy on the evacuation of Nigerians.

Onyeama said henceforth evacuated Nigerians would not have to go straight into a 14-day government monitored isolation if they test negative from their country of origin.

The Minister said the new policy will take effect from next week.

Consequently, he said further evacuation process has been suspended to give way for the take-off of the new policy.

He said with the new policy evacuees will have to be tested at most nine days before their flight takes off.

He said those who test positive will not be allowed on the flight

The new policy, he said will give the government enough latitude to fly more Nigerians home.

Nigeria has evacuated 989 stranded citizens with 265 from the United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom (253); United States (160); Saudi Arabia (292) and Lebanon (57)

Details shortly…




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BIG STORY

[BREAKING] School Reopening: FG Considers Morning, Afternoon Classes

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The Federal Government says it is thinking of sectionalizing classes for primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions in the country ahead of school reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, stated this on Wednesday during a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.

The minister, who faulted the reports that schools would reopen in the country on June 8, said the government could not afford to take any costly risk, especially as it regards the safety of pupils and students in the country.

He said, “Until we are sure these children can go to school, return safely and not bring up with them COVID-19 and infect people who are more susceptible than they are, then we are running a huge risk and God forbid, in our hurry, something happens to our children, I am not sure how anybody will be able to retrieve what has been lost.”

Nwajiuba said the ministry was being guided by the advice of experts including those of the World Health Organisation, noting that the decision to reopen schools would be carefully arrived at because education is on the concurrent list of the Nigerian Constitution.

He appealed to private owners of schools to co-operate with the government in ensuring a safe reopening.

“We are going to publish a specification on what we expect COVID-19 or post-COVID-19 reopening to look like. We are not talking about coping with COVID-19 but in spite of COVID-19, we expect that we will adapt.

“For a country that has over 115,000 primary schools, you will understand that 35,000 of these who are private must agree to set up the same standard in other to allow children to go in.

“We may have classes in the morning and classes in the afternoon so that we will have the whole of the infrastructure divided, provided they can serve us. I am not sure we will have classes at night. But we can do with morning and afternoon for now,” he explained.




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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Mother Who ‘Drowned 18-Month-Old Baby’ Remanded At LASUTH

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An Igbosere Magistrates’ Court in Lagos on Wednesday sent for psychiatric evaluation a nursing mother, Oluwafunmilayo Adisa, suspected of killing her baby.

Magistrate (Mrs) K. O. Doja-Ojo remanded Adisa, 22, at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), following an application by the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender (OPD).

The OPD is representing the suspect pro bono.

Its Director, Dr Babajide Martins, applied that Adisa be sent to and remanded at LASUTH “for psychiatric evaluation to help determine the state of her mental health.”

He based his application on Section 217 (3) of Lagos State Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL), 2015.

Magistrate Doja-Ojo granted the prayer and adjourned till June 26, for the outcome of the tests.

Adisa is suspected by the police to have drowned her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Oluwanifemi, in a bucket of water.

According to a temporary charge marked C/42d/2020 attached to the OPD’s application, “Adisa Oluwafunmilayo on May 11, 2020, at about 2020 hours at Plot 222, 21/211 Road Gowon Estate, Alimosho Local Government Area (LGA) Lagos… unlawfully killed one Adisa Oluwanifemi, female, aged one and a half years, by drowning her in a bucket of water and thereby committed an offense punishable under Section 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.”

It was signed by Deputy Superintendent (DSP) Yetunde Cardoso.

Speaking afterward, Martins said the OPD is representing Adisa in line with its statutory responsibility of providing free legal service for the indigent and vulnerable.

He said OPD came to her rescue by providing free legal representation and ensuring that the suspect was timely moved from the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti to the Federal Psychiatric Hospital, Oshodi as an outpatient pending her arraignment for further judicial action.




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