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Ex-staffers battle Diamond Bank over unpaid severance fee

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We are not owing them  – Diamond Bank

 

Diamond Bank Plc. led by Uzoma Dozie is now at war with the 370 workers that were sacked by the bank with no severance entitlements.

This newspaper learnt that the management of Diamond Bank on 27th of May 2016 at about 5:30am sent an electronic mail to 370 of their member staff to notify them of termination of their appointment, without stating any objective reason. Most of the workers who didn’t receive the termination mail before leaving home to work were caught off guard as they couldn’t access their various work stations and were only able to find out about the termination of their appointment after renting their friend’s phone.

We gathered that the workers took their case to the National Assembly Committee on Public Petitions and the bank’s MD/CEO, Uzoma Dozie was summoned to appear before the committee on January 18th, 2018. Instead of showing up, he sent the Head Human Capital Management of the bank, Mr. Gabriel Nwokeafor to represent him.

Sources said that Mr. Gabriel Nwokeafor told the House Committee that the bank was ready to settle the matter and a meeting was held to that effect at Reiz Hotel, Abuja on January 19th, 2018 between Diamond Bank, its lawyer and seven representatives of the sacked workers alongside their lawyer and the bank agreed to pay the severance/redundancy benefits as computed but on the condition that the loans collected by the ex-workers will be deducted and the balance paid to them.

Be that as it may, we were told that the bank had reneged on that agreement. Besides, Mr. Gabriel on 28th March, 2018 refused to appear before the House Committee instead he sent two lawyers who refuted the agreements he made with the ex-workers and their lawyer on January 19th, 2018 on the ground that the case was still in Court and the sacked workers were asked to withdraw their case from the court.

The ex-workers not fully aware of the implication of their next action, subsequently withdrew the case from Court.

Sources added that Mr. Gabriel on April 24th, 2018 said that he cannot deny knowledge of the agreement he signed with the ex-workers and their lawyer, and the withdrawal of the case in court that there is no way the decision he reached with the sacked workers could be wholly binding as the CEO/MD of the bank was not present at the time. He added that he did not know that the entire decisions at the meeting was been recorded.

But in a statement made available to THE WITNESS on Thursday July 19, 2018, Diamond Bank however denied the allegations.

The statement reads in part “At Diamond Bank, we understand the value of strong governance principles that protect and places a premium on the welfare of our people.”

“The exit of the staff was in line with best practice and complied to all regulations.”

“Out of the 370 persons who left the employment of our bank, 274 of them voluntarily resigned their appointments and several of them have requested and have been issued with favourable references.”

“They were paid all their terminal benefits as stipulated under their contracts of employment.”

“Presently, we are not indebted to any of them. However, a number of them are indebted to the Bank over loan facilities they obtained and failed to repay.”

“We wish to state that this issue has been reported and deliberated upon by the Central Bank of Nigeria as well as Federal Legislative bodies.” The lender stressed.

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INVESTIGATION

Insiders reveal: NHIS Chairman fighting Executive Secretary for exposing N1.5bn fraud, others

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The resolve of the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf to re-accredit the Health Management Organizations(HMOs) and ensure the implementation of a security report which mandated the ES to recover the sum of N1.05 billion allegedly embezzled by some HMOs may have pitched him against the Chairman of the NHIS Council, Dr. Enyantu Ifenne, this newspaper has learnt.
The executive secretary was last Thursday reportedly suspended indefinitely on the order of the council chairman ostensibly to allow unfettered investigation into a petition said to have been written against him some staff of the NHIS.
In a letter signed by its Chairman, Dr Eyantu Ifenne, the Council said “in line with the public service rule 030406, has resolved to suspend you, Professor Usman Yusuf, indefinitely with effect from 18th October 2018 to allow for a comprehensive and unfettered investigation of the issues in the petitions against you.”
However, staff of the organization kicked against the suspension claiming it was a unilateral decision by the chairman as seven out of the 11 council members reportedly walked out of the meeting. A senior Director of the organization instructed to take over from the ES in acting capacity also reportedly declined the offer in solidarity with staff.
In his response to the letter of suspension, Prof. Yusuf stated that contrary to the claims of the council that the NHIS Act and the Public Service Rules no.030406 conferred on it the power to suspend the executive secretary, it had no such powers, stressing that only the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria could order the suspension or removal of the ES.
Insiders with knowledge of the in-fighting in the NHIS explained that there was no love lost between the chairman of the council and the executive for reasons many of the staff consider as self-serving.
The most obvious reason, according to sources, is an alleged collusion between the chairman and HMOs which has considerably weakened the scheme but benefitted the HMOs. Since resuming as ES in 2016, Prof. Yusuf had indicated interest to sanitize the scheme and stop an alleged racket which had ensured that HMOs to NHIS funds for as long as they liked without paying hospitals offering service to enrollees in the scheme.
An internal audit carried out by the ES had also revealed a staggering number of ghost enrollees and hospitals while the HMOs continued to receive huge illegal payments. The Department of State Services (DSS) had also investigated the Scheme from 2013-2015, and one of the recommendations in its report is that HMOs should pay back the sum of N1.05b that they were illegally paid in 2015.
But it was learnt that even though the ES sought and got the council approval to recover NHIS funds and re-accredit the HMOs, the Chairman never supported the move. The Chairman reportedly called a Council meeting one week after the go-ahead was given and asked a representative of the HMOs to address them on why they should not pay back the money.
“The meeting was attended by only four of the 11 council members, and after the presentation the Chairman asked the HMOs not to pay back any money to NHIS,” a senior staff explained. On several occasions, the Chairman had also allegedly circulated council meetings among certain HMOs, an action that was frowned upon by the ES who warned against given undue access and advantage to some HMOs above others at a time they were being accredited.
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INVESTIGATION

EXCLUSIVE: FG moves to arrest Delta Senator, James Manager, seize properties worth N5bn

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The Okoi Obono-Obla-led Presidential Investigation Panel (SPIP) for the Recovery of Public Property has summoned the senator representing Delta South Senatorial District at the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, James Manager over fraud and illegal acquisition of properties worth over N5bn with government funds, THE WITNESS learnt.

The panel is investigating the PDP senator following a petition written by a group, Conduct and Due Process. The group is calling the SPIP to investigate and prosecute the Delta lawmaker and also to request that the illegal properties allegedly scattered all over Delta, Abuja and the USA be temporarily forfeited to the FG. Some of the alleged properties include: a mansion in USA, KFT Event Centre in Warri (the biggest centre in Delta), Bendel Estate in Warri, a mansion in Apo area in Abuja worth over N500m, amongst others. Sources further disclosed that detectives from the Presidency were in Warri and Asaba, Delta State capital last week Tuesday to trace and mark the illegal properties.

Though Sen. Manager is said to have travelled out of the country to China for a seminar organized and sponsored by the Senate, THE WITNESS reliably gathered that he is billed to appear before the panel in Abuja on October 25, 2018 at 10am.

In line with THE WITNESS investigative journalism practice, our reporter contacted the chairman of the panel, Chief Obla who confirmed the report. “It’s true, we are investigating Senator James Manager,” Obla said.

Efforts to reach Sen. Manager for his angle to the reports proved futile as calls and text messages placed to his mobile line were not responded to as at press time.

More details as events unfold…

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INVESTIGATION

Again, Captain Idahosa Okunbo denies report linking him with alleged fraud

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Respected businessman cum philanthropist, Captain Hosa Okunbor, has caused to be issued again a statement dissociating him from the controversial oil swap deal involving former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke.

An unverified news report currently being circulated among Whatsapp users, which listed some Nigerian businessmen as beneficiaries of the said fraud, is a rehash of a report published in 2015 by a news portal, Pointblanknews.com, which it had since retracted as Okunbor was never listed among the perpetrators.

A statement released by the media team of Captain Okunbor reads, “As widely known, Captain Okunbor is neither under any probe nor facing any litigation over oil scam. The current administration, which has made anti-corruption its mantra and made giant strides in that respect, has not found Captain Okunbor or any of his businesses questionable or culpable of any underhand dealings. It is therefore horrifyingly unprofessional that some people, who perhaps saved the earlier report for hideous purposes apparently, have made it a habit to rehash and circulate it on a periodical basis on social media platforms especially on Whatsapp to unsuspecting contacts who in turn send it as broadcast messages.”

The statement reads further, “We, therefore, urge the public to disregard the report, which as far as we are concerned, is a product of the puerile imagination of blackmailers masquerading as bloggers, and fifth columnists who have clearly demonstrated that they have an axe to grind with the widely respected businessman.”

“It bears reiterating that Captain Okunbor has nothing to do with the controversial offshore processing agreements, OPAs, known as oil swap, involving the former Minister of Petroleum and others,” the statement concluded.
Captain Okunbor is a seasoned investor in diverse sectors of the economy spanning petroleum, marine, construction engineering and agriculture. His Hosa Wells Greenhouse Farm Limited, the first indigenously owned commercial greenhouse farm in Nigeria, launched its first fruits harvest last month, thus, blazing the trail with its all-year-round farming, which has been appraised as a novel initiative.

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