NPA retirees seek Buhari’s intervention over non-payment of terminal benefit

11 December 2015, Lagos – Retirees of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to pay them their terminal benefits since they were disengaged from service 25 years ago.

President Buhari

President Buhari

In a bid to press their demands, the retirees under the auspices of the “NPA Retrenched Employees June 1991” said they have gone through hell in their attempts to get their pension, gratuity and redundancy benefits from NPA in spite of a subsisting court that they should be paid.

In a letter addressed to Buhari and signed by Chairman, Media, NPA 1991 Retirees, Sylvas Okoro, the retirees wondered why the management of the authority has continued to delay the payment of their terminal benefits.

The former NPA employees said they were constrained by “the heartless refusal” of the management of NPA to disrespect the three superior courts of Nigeria.

Titled: “Refusal of Nigerian Ports Authority Management to Pay Pension, Gratuity and Redundancy Benefits of Its Staff Whose Appointment were Determined on June 1991 Despite Supreme Court Judgment on that Effect”, the aggrieved former employees said they decided to write to the President because of Buhari’s avowed commitment to equity, fairness socio-political and economic justice of the masses as well as the rule of law.

Part of the letter reads: “Your Excellency Sir, you have been in vanguard of democracy and good governance from time immoral, you fight for the victims of right abuses and injustice. On June 10, 1991, about 3000 employees from all the ports in Nigeria were served with letter of termination of appointment by Nigerian Ports Authority without payment of our pensions, gratuity and redundancy benefits as stipulated in the Federal Government circular NoB321/SI/X/618 dated January 1, 1991on Pension and Gratuity and Pension Amendment Act of 1990.

“We instituted suit Number LD/1827/92 to secure the payment of our entitlement from NPA. The conclusion of the trial court by the Honourable Justice A.R.A. Sahid of Lagos High Court was on the 12th July 1996 in favour of the retrenched employees. The NPA refused to honour the judgment of the High Court and went for Appeal Court against the suit Number CA/L/425/97, this appeal failed on February 16, 1998 for want of diligent prosecution. Nigerian Ports Authority went again to institute suit Number LD/1021/99. This time, it was meant to set aside the judgment of the Lagos High Court in the bid to deprive the former employees their statutory rights. This new suit was dismissed. We went to Supreme Court with suit Number SC/190/2003.
The judgment of this suit was on the May 11, 2007 entered in favour of ex-employees.”

According to the retirees, the Supreme Court affirmed  the judgment of Lagos State High Court by Justice A.R.A Sahid, yet NPA management and its board refused to obey.

“We sort the intervention of the (former)Senate President Dr. David Mark through the Chairman Committee on Establishment and Public Service. The committee deliberated the matter and resolved that the Managing Director of NPA should comply with the Supreme Court judgment of May 11, 2007 and pay all the retrenched staff and no staff should intimidated  based on the supreme court judgment yet the NPA did not honour the letter,” they said.

The former NPA employees stated that they also sought the intervention of the former  Honourable Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation, Honourable Mohammed B. Adoke, SAN on October 12, 2012, who ordered the managing director of NPA to comply with the decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Yet, the order is yet to be complied with till date.

The retirees expressed dismay that the management of NPA has continued to frustrate every effort to ensure that they get their terminal benefits in line with the judgment of the highest court in the land and the directive of the federal government.

“These were employees who have served meritoriously and put their best during their youthful age when NPA was nothing. The management of NPA has portrayed itself as being insensitive to the plight to its former employees of 1991. No responsible organization will be inclined to frustrate the effort of employees who had assisted in building not only the goodwill but also given the organization its pride of place in the maritime industry. If they were not corrupt and disobedient to the rule of law, it would have abided by the orders given to it by the Supreme Court.

“NPA did not honour the memorandum of understanding on the final settlement of our benefit dated April 23, 2013 co-ordinated by the Federal Ministry of Justice between NPA and former representatives of the 1991 retrenched employees who were on the run since that illegal agreement was done. The former executive sold us out.  The said memorandum of understanding (MoU) is not part of the Supreme Court judgment which was decided on May 11, 2007 in our favour and is null and void”, the letter added.

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