DESPITE the N1billion judgment handed in favour of former workers of defunct NICON Airways, businessman-owner of the airline, Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim is yet to settle the workers’ entitlement four years after.The staff of the airline who have continuously cried out over their unpaid benefits as ordered by the court are accusing the former promoter of the airline, Jimoh Ibrahim of evading justice despite the judgement of the National Industrial Court of Abuja against him.
National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja had awarded the workers numbering over 250 about N1 billion as unpaid salaries and allowances, coupled with the closure of the airline, which Barrister Ibrahim acquired from the former Kogi State Governor, Capt. Idris Wada in 2007.
In a 21-page court judgment by Justice M.N. Esowe, the court had awarded the damages to the workers on September 16, 2013 rather Ibrahim filed an appeal against the judgement which was equally struck out on May 23, this year by Justice E.N. Agbakoba.
Justice Esowe had ordered Ibrahim to pay outstanding arrears of leave allowances, crew allowances overseas unpaid allowances in United States dollars and cumulative unremitted cooperative by the staff between May 2007 to April 2011 to the staff, all totalling over N1 billion.
The judgment, Suit No. NICN/LA/192/2011 and made available to our correspondent, had identified Mr. Henry Iwelunmo, Mr. Lukman Kolawolem Mr. George Omoniyi and Mrs. Eunice Odey as plaintiffs while NICON Airways, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim and Capt. Idris Ichalla Wada as the defendants.
Justice Esowe in his judgment described the action of the defendants as fraudulent and improper and accused Ibrahim and Wada of abandoning the employment of the 1st defendant and carting away all the proper assets of the defendant without any communication and discussion with the plaintiffs on their contracts of employment and subsisting entitlements from the 1st defendant.
A breakdown of the payments indicated that NICON Airways owned by Ibrahim was supposed to pay the total sum of N16.4 million as pension funds to the workers, N8.1 million as the cumulative contributions to the Nigeria Social and Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), which was deducted, but unremitted by Ibrahim from the workers’ salaries and entitlements between the period and payment of N808.7 million as the aggregate arrears of the workers’ salaries for the period.
Others are: “An order of this honourable court mandating the defendants and their directors to pay the sum of to pay the sum of N4.02, 857 million to the plaintiffs forthwith being the aggregate arrears of the plaintiffs’ leave allowance since the months of May 2007 to April 2011 and others that will become due and payable to the plaintiffs during the pendency and final determination of this suit.
“An order of this honourable court mandating the defendants and their directors to pay the sum of N3,380,500 only to the plaintiffs forthwith being the aggregate arrears of the plaintiffs crew/flight allowance for the months of May 2007 to April, 2011.”
The justice also awarded the sum of $41,750 to the workers being the aggregate arrears of their overseas allowance, another N16.4 million as pension contribution funds deducted from their salaries, but not remitted to the workers, N2.4 million as the cumulative contributions of the workers to cooperative society, N16.4 million deducted as pension contributions, but not remitted by Jimoh Ibrahim and 21 per cent interest on the entire sum from May 2007 till 2011 and another 10 per cent per annum until final liquidation of the entire judgment sum among several other damages awarded to the workers.
Jimoh Ibrahim was also ordered to pay the sum of N20 million as the plaintiffs’ solicitors’ fee and expenses.
Besides, during the case at the National Industrial Court, Wada through his lawyer said he could not be joined together with Ibrahim because of his immunity as the serving governor of Kogi State then.
But, now that he has finished his four years term, a source close to one of the affected workers said that plans have reached an advanced stage to join him with the case.