.Unions threaten to picket banks
by Kelvin Osa Okunbor
Office of the Nigeria’s Accountant General is at loggerheads with eight banks for unauthorised withholding of over N700million paid in error into the accounts of some former workers of the Nigeria Airways in their banks.
The unprofessional conduct of the banks in not returning the huge sum paid in error into accounts of ex – Airways workers is creating tension between the banks and the office of Accountant General.
The N700 million represented the extra money that was mistakenly paid into the account of some of the former workers who were paid twice by the government.
The payment came after a verification exercise on the former workers of the defunct national carrier.
A source hinted that the N700 million overpayment, was part of the N22 billion approved by government as the final N45 billion severance entitlements approved for former workers of liquidated Nigeria Airways Limited.
A source hinted that efforts made by the Accountant General and the National Union of Pensioners (NUP), representatives of the workers to make the banks refund the money to the Accountant General’s office has not yielded positive results.
Rather than return the N700 million into the accounts of the affected workers, the banks have failed and are allegedly trading with the money.
The eight banks affected include: the First Bank which is said to be in possession of the lion share of 80 per cent of the money in question.
Other banks include: Diamond, Fidelity, Polaris, Zenith, Stanbic and Ecobank.
While the eight banks failed to comply with the agreement to refund the money, few others are said to have voluntarily returned the money mistakenly paid into the accounts.
The banks that have fully refunded the money are: GTB, Keystone, Standard Chartered, Unity and UBA.
While the office of the accountant General was said to be unhappy with the banks, the union representatives of the former airline workers have given the banks one-week ultimatum which ends this week to return the money.
Former workers of Airways said should the banks fail to return the money this week, they will picket the banks first thing next Monday.
The refusal of the banks to refund the money is said to be slowing down the ongoing payment of the last batch of the former workers entitlements.