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BIG STORY

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

Banditry Becoming An Industry, Benefiting Some People —Senate President Lawan

Peter Okunoren

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The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday, lamented that banditry was fast becoming an industry and that quite a number of people were benefitting from the ugly situation.

Lawan, who spoke after the confirmation of the service chiefs, described the situation as unacceptable and asked the new military generals to stop the ugly trend.

The newly confirmed service chiefs are, Maj. Gen. Lucky Eluonye Onyenuchea lrabor as Chief of Defence Staff; Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru (Chief of Army Staff); Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, (Chief of Naval Staff); and Air Vice Marshal Isiaka O. Amao as Chief of Air staff.

They replaced the former Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar.

Lawan asked the new service chiefs to take the war to the bandits and insurgents and dislodge them in their strongholds.

He said, “A situation whereby a group of people will go to a school and take over 300 students away on motorcycles is not accepted.

“Kidnapping without a trace is not acceptable. Something has to be done because, apparently, this is becoming an industry, some people are benefiting from this and we have to unravel who these people are, and fight bandits and insurgents until we rescue our country.

“Let me also advise the service chiefs that there must be an interagency corporation. There must be an interagency corporation, the army, the air force, they are supposed to have complementary roles.

“We promise them and indeed Nigerians that we support them in whatever way the parliament can come to their support.

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of the new service chiefs following the consideration of the report of the Committee on Defence which recommended their confirmation.

Lawan, had on Wednesday, penultimate week, referred the request of the President, Major General, Muhammadu Buhari, (retd.), for the confirmation of the new service chiefs, to the Committee on Defence.

Lawan, gave the committee, led by Senator Aliyu Wamakko, two weeks to carry out their assignments and report to the Senate in plenary.

The Senate confirmed their appointments both at the committee of the whole and at plenary on Tuesday following the Wamakko report’s consideration.




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BIG STORY

Popular Nigerian Author Chimamanda Adichie Loses Mum

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Popular Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Adichie, has lost her mother, Grace Ifeoma Adichie. It was gathered that her mother died on Monday, however, the cause of her death is still unknown.

Her mother’s death comes more than eight months after the author had lost her father, James Adichie, who died after a brief illness.

The deceased couple are survived by six children: Ijeoma, Uchenna, Chuks, Okechukwu, Chimamanda, and Kenechukwu; as well as nine grandchildren.




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BIG STORY

Drama As Sowore Appears In Court With Personal Babalawo [PHOTOS & VIDEO]

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Sahara reporters publisher Omoyele Sowore has caused a stir as he appeared at the magistrate court in Abuja with a “Babalawo” in tow.

It was gathered that Lawyers, journalists, and other court personnel were left shocked by the former presidential Candidate’s choice of association.

“The Gods are angry”, Sowore could be heard saying to his entourage while awaiting the presiding judge on the matter.

Recall A Chief Magistrate Court in Abuja had fixed March 2 for the trial of the activist and four others for alleged criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and inciting public disturbance.

Sowore had been accused of carrying placards and calling for a forceful revolution. He was eventually granted 20 million naira bail after which he regained his freedom.

More to come…




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