HURIWA to Biotechnology Agency: Pay your disengaged staff or risk legal action

Posted by News Express | 17 April 2020 | 557 times

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To prevent the imminent starvation and death of members of the 27 households of cleaners disengaged just before the Federal Government-ordered lockdown over the Coronavirus pandemic, rights advocacy group Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Acting Director General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency to pay them their accumulated wage bills totaling over N8 million. 

HURIWA threatened that if after the lockdown the accumulated wages were not paid, it will initiate a petition to the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration and also consider other non-violent civil disobedience strategies to compel the acting Director General to pay the suffering and starving disengaged cleaners who apparently got dismissed when the then substantive Director General of NARDA exited the agency and the acting DG was appointed.

The rights group said it was a grave violations of human rights including right to life for the authority at the federal government agency to be this insensitive to allow these 27 less-privileged Nigerians to enter the lockdown without receiving their payoffs.

“This is the worst case scenario of man’s inhumanity to man that less privileged citizens who laboured for months are being owed their lawfully gained payments by an authority that feel unsympathetic to their situations of joblessness and imminent starvation.”

In a media statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, the rights group said it was approached by the representative of the 27 disengaged cleaners who are on the verge of imminent starvation and death by themselves and members just as the rights group confirmed that it reached out to the Acting Director General, Mr. Alex Akpa, three weeks ago who then promised to pay off the accumulated wage bills once the first quarter of the running costs are released to his office.

“HURIWA approached the Acting Director General of NARDA and pleaded on behalf of these suffering families whose only means of survival and livelihoods he reportedly terminated when he assumed duty as the Acting head of that scientific agency under the Federal ministry of Science and Technology.

“The DG told us that the cleaners were disengaged because their services were no longer required going by what he called persistent complaints from the staff that the contract cleaners hired by the last substantive Director General were not discharging their contractual obligations optimally and were in the habit of not cleaning up the toilets of the office facilities thoroughly which was almost threatening to lead to an outbreak of waterborne disease.

“He also told us that his management has agreed to pay but that there was no money for that at that time even when HURIWA reminded him that it was inhumane and unfair to let the 27 households enter the Lockdown with empty stomachs.”

In the media statement HURIWA, said it has become imperative that President Muhammadu Buhari’s attention is called to this unfair treatment of poor peasants by an agency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in which 27 households have been starving since many Months and now that the Country has been on lockdown for nearly a month these less privileged Nigerians have been left to go practically without foods or the basic necessities of life. 

HURIWA stated that the cleaners informed it that on February 20, 2020, after months of not getting their accumulated wage bills they decided to send a letter to the Director-General of the Agency to demand for payment in a letter titled ‘Re: Contract For The General Cleaning and Sanitation/Fumigation of National Biotechnology Development Agency’ through their solicitor for the cleaners under the corporate name of Messrs Wycombe WT2 of Leventis Close, Central Business District, Abuja.

HURIWA disclosed that in the letter the cleaners had told the Director General that the agency is owing them the sum of N8.5 million which sum accrued to them under a contract for the general cleaning and sanitation of the office premises.

HURIWA said it has served a notice to the acting Director General to pay off these accumulated wages to stave off legal action against the agency by sympathetic lawyers to the distressed Nigerians for deliberately terminating the contract it signed with them only because they have no godfather just as the non-payment of the huge payments to the 27 families have led to untold frustrations, hunger, starvation and poor health of hundreds of people who depended on them for survival.

Source: News Express

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