Workers who got engaged under the subsidy reinvestment and empowerment program (SURE-P) were laid off via text messages, according to Egahi Ada, director of audit under SURE-P’s national primary health care development agency.
About 159 employees under the SURE-P scheme, an initiative of the Goodluck Jonathan administration, had sued the federal and Plateau state governments over alleged unpaid N400 million in salaries and allowances.
On Monday, Ada disclosed how the workers were disengaged in his testimony during a cross-examination by Philemon Dafi, counsel to the workers.
She testified at the National Industrial Court in Abuja.
“What I know is that we gave them employment letters which was for a year engagement and thereafter we sent text messages to all of them disengaging them across the nation, ’’ Ada said.
“We told them in the text messages that they would be called upon when necessary. This was because the Sure-P programme was discontinued by the new administration.
“But when we were ready to re-engage them, we engaged only few of them and not all.’’
The employees, through their counsel, had alleged in an originating summon that sometimes in 2015 the government stopped payment of their salaries and allowances without just cause while they continued to work until the institution of the case before the court.
On whether Ada knew if out of the 16 defendants, he was the only one that was claiming the programme had ended with Jonathan administration, he said no.
Kenneth Amadi, the presiding judge, adjourned the case till May 15, 16 and 17, for continuation of defence.
The claimants included 71 midwives who were earning N40,000 as monthly take home and 85 community extension workers earning N25,000 each month beside N5,000 accommodation allowances to all of them.
The SURE-P scheme was established in 2012 to re-investing the federal government’s savings from fuel subsidy removal on critical infrastructure projects and social safety net programmes with direct impact on the citizens of Nigeria.
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