Over 10, 000 ex-staff of banks have sued the One of those convinced that Nigerians should adopt bitcoins is the Managing Director of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over nonpayment of their N9.8billion gratuities 1 years after they were retrenched.
The former bankers filed a class action suit through the Registered Trustees of the Association of Ex-Staff of Non-Consolidated Banks of Nigeria and all ex-staff of eight banks not consolidated in the banks consolidation exercise at the National Industrial Court, Lagos Judicial Division.
Also joined in the suit are Ecobank Nigeria Plc, UBA Plc, Skye Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.
The claimants had instituted the cation on behalf of the ex-staff of eight banks including: Allstates Trust Bank, Assurance Bank, Eagle Bank, Gulf Bank, Hallmark Bank, Liberty Bank, Metrolpolitan Bank and Trade Bank respectively.
A breakdown of the claimants’ gratuities showed that Allstates and Hallmark Bank both acquired by Ecobank were owed over N7billion.
Besides, UBA which acquired Gulf Bank, Liberty Bank, Metropolitan Bank and Trade Bank was owing ex-staff of the respective banks over N1.3bn just as Skye Bank and Zenith Banks were owing over N600m and N22million.
At the inaugural hearing of the suit held at Court 2, presided over by Justice Benedict Kanyip over the weekend, the claimants’ counsel recalled that following the N25billion recapitalisation benchmark set by the apex for banks under the ‘Guidelines and Incentives on Consolidation in the Banking Industry,’ the CBN had assured that those whose employment would be jeopardised as a consequence of the exercise will be paid their due entitlements in line with industry standards and even provided with soft loans to set up their small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs).
The claimants’ lawyer further averred that even the Act had imposed a duty upon the NDIC to ensure that acquiring banks take up the deposits and other liabilities of the acquired banks, including the terminal benefits of ex-staff.
Regrettably, the acquiring banks implemented the act in breach by “cherry picking” and left out both the liabilities and staff benefits unattended to.
Consequently, the claimants according to Omotilewa have had to suffer lots of privations including loss of lives, source of income to mention just a few as a result of the refusal of the defendants to redeem their promise to pay compensation due to them.
“We’re asking for the terminal benefits of the claimants simply because it is part of their fundamental human rights which should be enforced,” he said.
Justifying the need for the class action, Magnus Maduka, the chairman of the group, while addressing journalists said it was disheartening to note that over 100 members of the group have faced their untimely death as a result of the inhuman conditions they had been subjected to these past years.
“We were trying to explore the possibility of not going to court at all these past years believing that the CBN and NDIC and the banks concerned would do the needful. But it does appear that we may have to wait forever and that is why we decided to take the matter before the court to get justice for all the affected parties,” Maduka stressed.
Justice Kanyip while taking the claimants pleas however observed that the court was not properly served.
Specifically, Justice Kanyip said the court had no jurisdiction to decide the case because the umbrella body under which they were filing the class action was strictly within the purview of the Corporate and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), which is clearly at variance with the act setting up the NIS Act.
Meanwhile, the four banks represented by Messrs Olusola Oyebowale, Jenifer Aburime, C.M Omeke and Adekola Isaac Olawoye had raised preliminary objections over irregularity of the suit filed by the claimants just as they argued that it was statute-barred.
Speaking further, Justice Kanyip said the court could only take the claimants’ pleas on a case-by-case basis and not as a group.
He therefore moved for the adjournment to April 26th, 2017, since according to him, the face was just for mention.
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