By Ibrahim Sulaiman
Staff of the defunct Nigeria Airways occupying the company’s staff quarters in Kano have appealed to the Nigerian authorities to intervene in the liquidation process of their houses as they face eviction from the family of late Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
The staff said in a letter of appeal sent to DAILY NIGERIAN that the company assigned to undertake the liquidation process had denied them the “right of first refusal” despite their initial indication of interest to acquire the houses.
But Mohammed Abacha, the son of the late Head of State, denied harassing the occupants despite legally acquiring the properties by the family.
“I am not the one who liquidated the company. As a citizen, I have rights to purchase the houses,” he said.
Another member of the Abacha family said they have been lenient to allow them live in the houses several years after purchasing the properties from the liquidators.
But two of the affected staff, Haruna Mohammed Mahdi of No 6 Lafia Road and Muhammad Mubarak Haladu of No 8 Kwairanga Road, Nassarawa GRA, Kano said the in the letter that after acquiring the properties, the occupants are facing “harassment and unfair treatment” in the hands of the family and their agent.
The properties, according to them, “are situated along Magajin Rumfa, Kwairanga Road, Lafia Road and Gidado Road, which comprise of No 8, 9, 13, 10 and Sky Power Club along Kwairanga Road, No 6 and 9 Lafia Road, 2 Quarters along Magajin Rumfa, 1 (one) along Gidado Road and a Boys Quarters attached to No 9 Kwairanga Road and No 9 Lafia Road.
“At the commencement of liquidating the company, we the occupants of No 6 Lafia Road and No 8 Kwairanga Road indicated our interest to purchase the houses we occupy by writing to the Government assigned liquidator in person of Babington Ashaye but our offer was not put into consideration and turned down by the liquidators of the company though we are entitled to an offer of first refusal just because the family of a Late Head of State in Kano are interested in acquiring the whole property owned by the company.
“As citizens of Nigeria who had served the nation fiercely, firmly and with sincere commitment up to the dissolution of the company, forcing us to retire early, we ought to be given the priority and opportunity to acquire the quarters we occupy as it has been given to other civil servants in Nigeria, based on government policies.
“But in the situation of liquidating the properties of the company in Kano, the whole above mentioned houses were sold to one family (that of a late head of State Gen Sani Abacha) under the guise of certain companies i.e Sabu Engineering LTD who acquired No 6 Lafia Road and Atlantic Building and Construction Limited who acquired No 8 Kwairanga Road. Such companies are not properly maintained and were purposely used for formalization of interest of acquiring the properties illegally and fraudulently.”
They said after serving the country for more than 30 years, they felt they duly contributed to the Federal Government Scheme, necessary to qualify them own houses in line with the federal government’s Monetization Policy and Housing Policy.
“Several appeals were written by us to then President Olusegun Obasanjo, President Umar Musa Yar Addua, EFCC, the Chairman On Liquidation of Nigeria Airways, to enable us own the houses we occupy by giving us priority and opportunity of ‘offer of first refusal’ given to all other civil servants in Nigeria based on humane Government Policies but to no avail.
“While the Staff of Nigeria Airways in other states such as Sokoto, Lagos, Abuja and others were allowed to enjoy the benefit of acquiring such houses, we in Kano were totally blocked and denied the befitting gesture.
“As staff of the defunct company are yet to be paid their benefits and entitlements, we urge the appropriate authority to have mercy and intervene and assist us in acquiring the quarters we occupy,” the letter said.
The victims expressed surprise that the liquidators opted to sell all the properties to a single family despite their numerous applications and appeals for the purchase of the houses, which even preceded the March 2005 liquidation of the flats to Sabu Engineering Ltd, Atlantic Building and Construction Limited and others.
The former workers’ hope of getting their full entitlements 13 years after the liquidation of the airline was dashed in April as Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit, PICA, slashed their severance packages to N43 billion from the approved N78 billion.
The payment was then put on hold, following PICA’s decision.
In a letter signed by its director, Special Projects, M.K Dikwa, the committee turned down the recommendation of the Inter-Ministerial Committee set up by the federal government to look into the matter.