© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
UBA magt yet to respond to legal suit filed by 116 retrenched staff
NEARLY two weeks after former staff of the United Bank of Africa dragged the financial institution to court, the bank is yet to file any response.
On January 3, UBA, in a move described as corporate right-sizing, retrenched over 3,000 of its workers.
The ICIR had told the story of staffers who said the bank got rid of them like “spoilt goods” by asking them to tender their resignation letter, or risk being sacked.
On February 13, the ex-workers in a suit marked NICN/La/112/2020 brought against the UBA at the Lagos Division of National Industrial Court, sued for wrongful termination of work, unconscionable and oppressive loan award, discriminatory and unfair labour practice, and defamation of character.
The retrenched workers prayed the court to award them N2 billion each for breach of contract and wrongful termination of employment.
The former workers also sued that N10 million be awarded to each of them on basis of defamatory comments made by Tony Elumele, UBA Groups chairman on January 6, at the Amphitheatre of the UBA House in Lagos.
“The Chairman of UBA, Mr Tony Elumelu announced to all staff and the whole world that the claimants are toxic inputters and disconnected Individuals.”
“The claimants were never at any time given any query for non-performance or for being toxic imputers or disconnected individuals.
“The defendant made the claim to lower the estimation of the claimants in the eyes of right-thinking members of society,” the claimants stated.
The suit obtained exclusively by The ICIR claimed the bank had made available personal loans which were “unconscionable and oppressive loans with interest at the rate of 18 per cent and 1.5 per cent for insurance.”
However, with the staff being asked to resign instead of getting a sack letter, the insurance benefits were not awarded to them.
Meanwhile, a source close to the bank revealed that the insurance company-HEIRS Insurance Brokers- which is also part of the Elumelu’s business empire knowing as HEIRS Holdings was to handle the insurance scheme.
Furthermore, the petitioners claimed that the bank tactfully foisted the loans on them for two reasons because it wanted to meet up with the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN’s Loan to Deposit Ratio. Secondly, the petitioners said in accordance with already laid down plan, the bank used the loan as a ploy to swindle them out of their benefits.
Hence, the 116 ex-bankers are seeking an order cancelling the loans or, alternatively, asking the bank to apply insurance proceeds to the payment of the outstanding loans and update their terminal benefits.
Meanwhile, the claimants said during the course of employment, UBA made 2.5 per cent deductions from their salaries for National Housing Fund (NHF) contribution but failed to remit the funds in line with the applicable law and thus denied access to housing loans under the NHF scheme.
Another source close to the case told The ICIR, that after the legal action filed by the ex-staff was made public and published on various media, Ramon Nasir, Group Head, Media Relations and UBA’s spokesperson paid-off publishers and editors to have the published reports pulled down from the platforms in a fierce attempt to maintain the company’s image.
“In place of pulling down the story, the bank offered the newspaper money to run a full-page advert for it,” the source told The ICIR.
This trend, The ICIR learnt, was reproduced across reputable national newspapers and blogs.
Although the bank still has a few days left to respond to the suit, Elvis Asia, counsel to the petitioners told The ICIR that his clients will proceed to court regardless of the silence by the defendant.