November 21, 2010

Justice Ministry intervenes in NPA, retirees’ rift

By Godwin Oritse
Federal Ministry of Justice has finally stepped into the protracted face-off between Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and its 1991 retirees, even as the Senate directed that the embattled ex-workers be paid their entitlements.

Vanguard  gathered that after several attempts to broker peace and ensure that the retirees were paid failed, the office of Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation finally met with the warring parties recently, after a letter dated July 22, 2010 had been sent to the Managing Director of NPA, Malam Abdul Salam Mohammed.

Sources at the meeting, which lasted for three days in Lagos, disclosed that it was attended by a representative of the Minister and three senior lawyers, while NPA’s team was led by one Mr. S. A. Balogun, accompanied by four others.

The 1991 NPA retirees were reportedly represented by the trio of Mr. B. Osinuga, Pastor Okon and Mr. Oni.

Vanguard also confirmed that the Minister had earlier ordered NPA to come to the meeting with a calculation of the total entitlement of each category of retrenched employees.

These include those who served for five years and above but less than 10 years; those who served for 10 years and above, as well as those who are deceased.

It was also confirmed that NPA was lampooned for allegedly refusing to obey the ruling of the Supreme Court and the delay to pay pension and gratuity and other entitlements to the 1991 NPA retirees.

The Minister’s representative reportedly chided NPA for allegedly disrespecting the apex Court’s judgment and warned its management that nobody can cancel the ruling, not even the President of Nigeria.

On the strength of the ministry’s argument and based on copies of the apex court’s judgment, it was agreed that NPA would go back and commence the process of paying the ex-workers’ pension and gratuities.