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Over 14,000 ex-bank workers drag CBN, NDIC, Minister of labour to court

Ignatius Okpara

CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

No fewer than fourteen thousand former-workers of non-consolidated banks in Nigeria have dragged the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to court over the alleged refusal of concerned authorities to pay them their entitlements.

Joined in the suit pending at the Enugu judicial Division of the National Industrial court are, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, Ministers of Finance, Labour and Productivity, and the Attorney General of the Federation.

Other defendants in the suit, presided over by Justice A.K Ibrahim, include Eco Bank PLC, United Bank for Africa, UBA, AfriBank, now mainstream bank and Zenith Bank.

The ex- workers filed the suit via their counsel, Barrister Emenike Azubuike, under the aegis of registered trustees of Association of Non-Consolidated Banks, Nigeria.

They are asking the court to determine “whether having regards to the CBN Guidelines and Incentives on Consolidation in the Nigerian Banking Industry of 5th August 2004, particularly the ‘Social Safety Net’, the claimants are not entitled to be ameliorated and compensated in terms of their terminal benefits, salary arrears and allowances.

“Whether the tacit delay and intractable refusal of the defendants to implement the Social Safety Net and in so doing ameliorate and compensate the claimant job losses and redundancies as enshrined under the Social Safety Net is not tantamount to a denial to perform a statutory duty to a remedy enforceable by an order of mandamus.

“Whether it is proper for the 1st and 2nd respondents (CBN and NDIC) to categorize the claimant’s employers within the meaning of ‘failing banks’ in the light of the provisions of Section 35, 36 and 38 of Banking and other Financial Institutions Act, BOFIA, (Cap B3 LF 2004) and section 494 (1) of Companies and Allied Matters Act, CAMA, (Cap 59) and in consequence of such classification treat the claimant’s rightful benefit as other creditors”.

Consequently, the former-workers are seeking from the court a declaration that they are entitled to amelioration and compensation in terms of their terminal benefits, salary arrears and allowances in accordance with the ‘Social Safe Net’ enshrined in the CBN Guidelines and Incentives on consolidation in the Nigeria Banking Industry of 5th August 2004.

Addressing newsmen Monday after the court session, counsel to the workers,Barrister  Azubuike, stated that  all efforts made by his clients to get their benefits without approaching the court hit the rock.

The lawyer, hinted that his clients were displaced after the 2005 consolidation exercise carried out by the CBN, adding that all efforts to actualize their benefits have continued to prove abortive.

Barrister Azubuike also disclosed that the workers had written to NDIC, Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, among other relevant establishments   on the issue, expressing    surprised that despite the letters, his clients were yet to be paid.

Said the counsel:, the ex- bank workers numbering about 14,000 have been suffering because of the non-payment of their benefits.

However, in one of his letters to Federal Ministry of Finance dated 13 June 2013, Azubuike had expressed dismay that despite a directive to the ministry from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to source funds for the payment of the terminal benefits of his clients since April 2012, the ministry had failed to carry out the order.

According to him, earlier before the letter to the Federal Ministry of Finance, he had told the secretary to government of the federation SGF, senator Anyim Pius Anyim that ex-staff of 2 out of the 12 banks that were not consolidated in 2005 were paid their terminal benefits in full by former CBN governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo.

Meanwhile, Justice Ibrahim, had adjourned the matter to November 7th, 2013 to enable counsel to the claimants, Azubuike respond to the counter affidavits filed by the defendants.

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