Employees of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) are threatening to go on strike over unverified outstanding claims of N665million presented to the management, it was learnt yesterday.
It was also learnt that between January and March, the claim requests of about N320million were incurred, to add to the existing amount.
Director-General of the agency, Mustapha Maihaja, who assumed office in April, has declined to “rush to pay the claims without verification.”
He has however been paying all overtime claims and other expenses due to the staff since he came on board.
It was learnt that a committee has been raised to compile and verify the claims.
The workers have demanded for payment of claims without verification since they were inherited from the previous management.
The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) had threatened to ask its members in NEMA to go on strike.
They are angry over alleged refusal of NEMA management to pay legitimate overtime claims of deserving employees, non- renewal of the personnel life assurance policy and refusal to pay Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) and other claims of deserving employees.
But NEMA management insisted that the bone of contention between it and employees was inherited claims of N665million which the workers did not want verified.
According to records, the DG inherited about N2,801,170,370.49billion including staff claims of N665,243,041; N1,787,903,158.95 owed vendors and N348,024,170 as tax liability.
Investigations confirmed that the compilation of staff claims had caused a stir in the agency following “discovery of startling revelations”
While a senior officer is demanding a refund of N58,612,000 he spent on behalf of NEMA, another official on Grade Level 14 is seeking reimbursement of N14million expenses he incurred for the agency.
A source in NEMA said: “The employee demanding N58.6m claimed to have spent the cash on behalf of NEMA in one day on April 6, 2017.
“Some of the claims are just bogus. Where did an employee of NEMA get N58.6million to assist in paying the bills of the agency in one day?
“There are others with suspicious claims of between N5million and N10million by some workers. The DG is ready to pay but he is insisting on the verification of the claims he inherited.
“Some of those with bogus claims are suspected to be instigating other employees to go on strike.”
Another source also attributed the tension in NEMA to the reposting of an official, Comrade Shaibu Afusatu, out of Abuja.
The leadership of the Trade Union Congress (FCT Council) asked NEMA management to “reverse the posting in line with extant labour laws , international conventions and a subsisting agreement.”
But NEMA in its response said: “The redeployment of the affected employee was a routine exercise carried out within the statutory responsibility of the management stipulated in their letters of appointment.
“The action of redeployment of staff does not in any way amount to violation of relevant section of ILO Convention 87. The agency however supports and encourages and allows free and legitimate association among its staff and will continue to do so.”
Director-General Maihaja told reporters at the weekend: “I inherited the liabilities and for all intents and purposes, a Chief Executive ought yo verify all claims that are not paid before he resumes. I am doing exactly that.
“I have not owed workers their salaries since I came on board. Also, I have been paying all the claims of workers of NEMA as and when due since I resumed in April.”