Ex-Bank workers of non consolidated Banks lament ordeal, ask Buhari to intervene
“Over 300 workers dead”
By Samuel Ogunsona
President Mohammadu Buhari has been asked to use his office to intervene in the plight of over 1000 bank workers who lost their jobs in 2005, following the bank consolidation policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN).
The leaders of the Association of Ex-Staff of Non-Consolidated Banks Nigeria led by Magnus Maduka called on the President and well meaning Nigerians to impress on the CBN and the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Company, (NDIC) to pay their dues. The bank consolidation policy led to the loss of jobs of some 1000 workers with impact on over 15,000 dependants.
Maduka said the Association came into being after the operating licenses of their former employers were withdrawn by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as a result of the 2005 banking consolidation.
The workers said naturally, when a company goes into liquidation the entity acquiring it, is expected to assume both its Assets and Liability but in their case, the purchasing banks of the liquidated banks which were their former employers were permitted to assume only the assets of the non-consolidated banks, leaving their liabilities, which includes workers and their terminal benefits.
“After waiting for a long while and nothing was forth coming with regard to the payment of our severance package, we decided to come together collectively to seek legal redress. This was how an umbrella body, known as Association of Ex-Staff of Non-Consolidated Banks Nigeria, was birthed” the workers said.
Maduka stated “Our first consultations were with the NDIC and we were assured that our members would be paid after the sale of assets of the banks that could not consolidate.
To keep hope alive, we petitioned the CBN who replied that we should engage the purchasing banks to take up the responsibility of paying our entitlements.”
They noted that on hearing this, the NDIC made a publication in one of the national dailies that they should not bother the banks that acquired the assets but that they should always revert to her for claims.
“We were still hoping to hear some good news only for our counterparts in City Express and Lead Banks to inform us that their own terminal benefits had been paid them. We confronted the NDIC to clarify this and were told that the two banks credited their staff personal accounts with their final entitlements for the NDIC to assume as depositors liability. To this end, we appealed to the NDIC who later agreed that they paid our colleagues in error. They kept insisting that they would pay when the assets of the banks had been fully sold and therefore, classified us as ‘Other Creditors,” the aggrieved workers said
They noted that in the course of consultation and lobbying, NDIC, CBN, Ministry of Labour including the Senate when David Mark Presided over it, members began to suffer terrible hardships which took some heavy toll on their health and those of their dependants.
The workers said “As at today, we have lost over three hundred of our members, not to mention several untimely deaths of dependants of our colleagues. Many families have broken up and all manners of sicknesses have cropped up (loss of sights, diabetes, stroke etc.), on our living colleagues. Properly crunched, the casualties we have suffered in this our predicament could be circa three hundred and fifty of our hapless members.”
As part of efforts to address the problem, on November 23, 2010, a meeting was arranged between the workers and the Federal Ministry of Labour during the tenure of Barrister Nwogu as the then Minister in charge. Present at the meeting were representatives of the NDIC and CBN. It noted that at the end of the meeting, the workers were advised to write a passionate appeal to The President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to please consider our plight and give approval for the payment of our entitlements which they did without any result.
“After so many moves and nothing was forthcoming, we decided to head for the court. We approached the Late Barrister Bamidele Aturu who advised that we head for the Industrial Court, being the ideal place to get judgment on industrial matters. Before we could finalize the arrangement, Mr. Aturu died which made us to seek the advice of Messrs. Daniel Omotilewa & Co., our present lawyers” the workers said.
At the first sitting, the presiding judge, Dr. Benedict Kanyip informed the workers they
could not sue as a body since we were not unionized even if we were a registered association with CAC. The only measure we could take was to appear as individuals before him. This was how we had several court sessions until finally a judgment was given in our favour on 23rd May, 2022.
We see the judgment as having a no victor no vanquished! We believe NDIC and CBN did what they deemed expedient but we only went to test the justice of their decision in court rather than take the laws in our own hands. We therefore, strongly appeal to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and to NDIC to be magnanimous enough to settle our claims without further ado. Our members have served this country in the banking industry for years of their lives. Some for over two decades. We are not responsible for the economic doldrums of our nation. We believe the delay in settling claims is uncalled for and could be misinterpreted to be callously punitive and not serving any positive purpose whatsoever.
The workers said the aggregate benefits is just pittance to CBN and NDIC. The CBN has the weightier matter of checkmating the free fall of the naira on its plate than the ‘Crumbs from her table’ that our members are demanding for some fifteen long years, the workers said.