Chairman of leadership Newspapers group and All Progressives Congress stalwart, Sam Nda-Isaiah’s attempt to divide the ranks of ex-staff who are demanding years of unpaid salary and allowances has hit the rocks as the affected staff said the only condition for collecting the money is if Sam agrees to pay all the affected staff.
Insiders in the newspaper confided in our reporter that Sam was rattled by the action of the two staff as he intended to pay only some few people, divide the ranks of the affected staff and refuse to pay others especially those whose unpaid emoluments run into millions of naira.
Investigation by our reporter revealed that the action of the Ex-leadership staff of exposing Sam for depriving them salaries for years has caused the publisher monumental public opprobrium to the extent President Muhammadu Buhari bitterly complaint about it.
A number of APC stalwarts including some of Sam’s friends who were piqued by the revelation have told him in unambiguous terms to pay all the ex-staff and save himself from further disgrace especially now that president Buhari has expressed disgust over the development.
A source at the presidency confided in our reporter that Buhari was seriously upset on learning about the development.
“You know leadership gave the president an award about three years ago. The president accepted the award because he thought the paper and the publisher can be trusted and do not have any skeleton in their cupboards.
” With the development, the president is regretting collecting such Greek gift from a disreputable medium and publisher.
“When the issue came to the public realm, Sam’s associates advised him to settle all the outstanding unpaid salary arrears in his own interest, we thought he has yielded to the words of wisdom. It is unfortunate that he cannot see the writing and the implications of his actions, ” the source said.
While disclosing the rationale for rejecting the cheque, the two staff said they do it to tell Sam that they are not paupers but are in the struggle to get what is due to them and expose him as a cheat who does no care a hoot about peoples concerns and tribulations.
One of the affected staff who does not want to be quoted told our reporter that: “I’m in this struggle not because of the money but because I want Sam to be taught the lesson of his life.
” While Sam is residing in the best house that money can buy, while he is riding the best cars money can buy, while he gallivants around the world on ostentatious and unnecessary holidays, while his children are schooling in the best schools abroad, his workers are wallowing in poverty, distress and wanton abandonment. This is the height of recklessness and impunity that I found difficult to forgive.
“I have personally carried a lot of checks about how a number of staff working for Sam died without compensation and I will make my findings known at the appropriate time,” he said.
Following Sam’s lethargy towards their demand for the payment of their backlog of years of unpaid salaries, the former staff dragged the publisher before the Public Complain Commission (PCC) and issued press statement to that effect.
Instead of paying the affected staff Sam tried to play smart by half and courted the anger of the two staff who he thinks he can bribe to cause confusion in the ranks of the aggrieved staff.
At the moment, two other former staff of LEADERSHIP that were being owed by the company have decided to join the group of petitioners making their number 16. They expect the LEDERSHIP to understand that with the action of the 14 petitioners many other ex-staff being owed will make efforts to use every constitutional means to get their wages from LEADERSHIP.
A reliable source told one of the aggrieved ex-workers that pressures are mounting on Mr. Nda-Isaiah to clear his name and desist from dragging the name of the APC under which Nda-Isaiah contested the 2015 presidential election primaries with incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, on the mud, stressing that a worker is worthy of his wages.
Part of the petition which was addressed to the Public Complaint Commission read:
“We, the under listed former employees of LEADERSHIP GROUP LIMITED, publishers of LEADERSHIP Newspapers, situated at No. 27, Ibrahim Tahir Lane, Off Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Way, Utako District, Abuja, wish to notify you of our ordeal and agony in the hands of Mr. Sam Nda Isaiah, the Chairman/Publisher of the company, over our salary arrears and other entitlements.
“We wish to state that aside from our salary arrears, we discovered that all the pension funds and taxes deducted monthly from our salaries while we worked for the company were never remitted to the appropriate authorities.
“We have petitioned the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on the failure of LEADERSHIP to remit deductions they made from our salaries to them.
“We appealed to the FIRS to sanction LEADERSHIP for failing to remit the tax deductions from our salaries to the agency as such act amounts to fraud, and we have been reliably informed that the matter is receiving attention.
“We further requested the PENCOM to take more than a passing interest in the failure of LEADERSHIP to remit pension deductions from our salaries and penalise the company accordingly for defaulting.
“After our individual efforts to recover monies owed us by the company failed, we came together in October 2017 and engaged the services of a lawyer, M. B. Usman Esq., the Principal Partner of Liman, Liman & Co. of No. 3, Oba Akenzua Street, Asokoro, Abuja, to enter into correspondence with LEADERSHIP on our behalf for the payment of our entitlements comprising salaries, allowances, deducted pension funds and taxes, among others.
“We also delegated our lawyer to take the company to court if it failed to comply with our demands.
“Accordingly, our lawyer wrote the company, stating our case and demanding that we be paid immediately. And the LEADERSHIP lawyer responded, saying they were verifying our claims with a view to paying us when money was available.
“However, LEADERSHIP kept dribbling us, making excuses and sometimes promising to pay us but failing to honour their promises.
“On April 27, 2018, their lawyer, Maureen Ohaka, Esq., wrote our lawyer, informing him that LEADERSHIP management had approved payment for six of us, whom they identified; they said their records showed that there were discrepancies in the claims of three of us, while reconciliation and approval of the entitlements of the remaining five of us were underway.
“The letter stated that due to financial constraints, payment of the approved stated sums for the six persons would be spread in monthly installments of such amount as might be available to the company via the law firm until each sum was defrayed.
“We thought the letter was vague as it did not specify the exact month in which the payment would commence. We also did not want to leave some of us unattended to; so, we directed our lawyer to contact the LEADERSHIP lawyer and inform her that we required speedy clearance of our members whose approval was pending, and we wanted to know when exactly the payment would commence.
“Subsequently, on June 6, 2018, LEADERSHIP’s lawyer wrote to our lawyer, asking him for his bank details to enable the company to commence payment of monthly installments to all 14 of us, which meant that the other pending cases had been cleared.
“However, the scheduled payment was not to be! We waited and waited, and made consultations but all to no avail. Finally, in December 2018, LEADERSHIP informed us that they were going to commence payment of N50,000 monthly to each of us beginning from that month. Again, they failed! In the end, they paid that N50,000 in two installments, with each of us receiving about half of that amount on January 22, 2019 and the balance of the December payment on February 20, 2019. And that was all the company has paid us till date.
“For some strange reasons, our lawyer appears to have developed cold feet. And we are not very keen to engage another lawyer to pursue the matter in court in view of the wheel of justice that grinds at its own pace. This is why we have decided to present our pathetic case to you, sir.
“It is common knowledge that resources are pouring into the company from adverts and other projects, but rather than settling workers’ unpaid salaries and allowances, Mr. Nda Isaiah prefers to wallow in opulence and globetrot.
“We need our money as some of us currently have no regular income. We, therefore, crave your intervention in the matter, sir.
“Thank you for your anticipated prompt response sir”.