Retirees allege corruption over delay in monetising staff quarters
• Demand justice on court’s verdict
Retirees under the aegis of Association of Nigerian Railway Senior Citizens (ANRSC) have accused the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and the Federal Ministry of Transportation of delaying and trying to frustrate the complete implementation of the monetisation policy of staff quarters in the Nigerian railways.
They alleged that the delays by the railway corporation and the ministry in completing the monetisation policy of the Federal Government in the sector was sinister, selfish and tainted with corrupt motives.
Addressing the media, National Chairman, ANRSC, Michael Abogoye, alleged that the retired NRC staff are deeply worried that in spite of court orders, the NRC management had been trespassing into their premises in railway staff quarters and harassing the occupants with evictions and demolitions.
He raised the alarm over the alleged invasion of members’ quarters at Kano railway compound recently, while threatening to forcefully evict them from their quarter unless they accept N5 million each for them to vacate the quarters.
Among their cries, he said their members, who were evicted and their houses demolished at Ebute Metta in Lagos, three years ago, were yet to be allocated the houses built for them, notwithstanding that the houses had been ready for over one year.
He alleged that the NRC management had devised illegal means of dispossessing the workers of their quarters by trespassing and mapping out portions of the compound and selling to third parties, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Transportation, contrary to the subsisting orders of the court of appeal.
He alleged that the management of NRC has been going through the back door to sabotage the court process with forceful eviction, demolition and threats of dismissal for serving staff, who fail to co-operate with them.
Recall that the Federal Government, in a deliberate policy to reduce the cost of governance and financial burden of civil servants, relaxed its housing laws for serving and retired staff that occupy Federal Government staff quarters.
To actualise this, it initiated a monetisation policy in June 2004, which became effective on July 1, 2005.
The retirees alleged that the NRC chose to implement the policy half way by deliberately leaving out the monetisation of staff quarters to the railway workers, contrary to the Federal Government’s extant monetisation policy.
Abogoye said six years after government introduced and implemented the monetisation policy, despite several meetings, entreaties and appeals, the unions – Senior Staff Association (SSA) and the Nigeria Union of Railway (NUR) workers, took the matter to the National Industrial Court (NIC), until 2016, when the court gave a verdict in favour of the staff of the NRC.
The senior citizens said rather than devise illegal and surreptitious means of ousting the legitimate sitting tenants of the railway staff quarters, they demanded that the management of the NRC await the decision of the appellate court or begin the process of implementing the housing aspect of the harmonisation policy to the letter.
They demanded that railway management desists from interfering with the railway staff quarters and their appurtenances forthwith, pending determination of the suit at the court or Appeal.
One of the retirees and immediate past Director, Legal and Secretary to the NRC, Ndubueze Okwuoma, who spoke on the main position of things in the court said: “We have won the first case in the industrial court and the railway was not satisfied and they appealed. The lawyers are playing against each other. The main issue of appeal is yet to be addressed. What they are doing is appeal and counter appeal since 2016 at the Appeal court.
“The matter is coming up again on July 5 to hear the applications and counter applications. NRC is hiding behind what is happening in the court and dealing with the quarters the way they deem fit. This is a straightforward case. After appealing, the railway has refused to allow the case to go into the main appeal. That is the main position.”
While the senior citizens are demanding fairness, equity and justice as well as compliance with the Federal Government’s policy with the rule of law, they said: “We entered into the service to contribute our quota to the improvement and development of the railway transportation industry. Now that we have our bit, given our best and retired from the service, at this old age, a fair and equitable treatment from the Nigerian railway management and the Federal Ministry of Transportation should be accorded us.
“Unfortunately, what we are getting is man’s inhumanity to fellow man and total deprivation of our rights for individual personal gains of those at the top.”