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HAPPENING NOW: Passengers stranded at Nigerian airports as NAHCO workers down tools over wages

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Hundreds of air travellers were stranded across major Nigerian airports early on Monday, as workers of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc embark on an indefinite strike over “poor wages.”

Nairametrics gathered that Qatar Airways even had to make an air return to Doha with Nigerian-bound passengers due to the strike action by the NAHCO workers that has paralysed the industry.

A source close to NAHCO confided in our correspondent that the workers were led by their unions – the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE).

The striking workers earlier informed NAHCO of the planned strike. The source claimed that the management pleaded with the workers not to embark on the action, but they ignored the plea.

This it was learnt compelled the management to approach the court in an attempt to stop the workers from embarking on the strike, which failed.

Apart from NAHCO, it was learnt that Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) Plc was also notified of a similar strike by its workers. But the wage issue was amicably resolved between the two unions and the management of SAHCO.

As of this morning (Monday), most of the airlines handled by NAHCO could not land or take off as planned, except the indigenous carriers like Air Peace, which made alternative arrangements to airlift their passengers at all the stations it operates into.

Other international airlines that may be affected by the disruption to work include Virgin Atlantic, Kenya Airways, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, KLM, Delta Air Lines, Air France, AKSY, Egypt Air and Rwandair amongst others.

The source close to one of the airlines told newsmen that the management had received a court order restraining the unions from embarking on the strike, but ignored it.

“As of last week, we received a court order, which was duly signed that stopped the unions from embarking on this action, but they ignored it.

This is a colossal loss to our revenue and as reasonable unions, one would expect them to obey the court order, but unfortunately, they violated it,” the source said.

Mr Sam Akinrinmade, the Spokesman of NAHCO could not be reached for comments as he declined his call.

Business

Stallion Nigeria debunks owing GTB N13 billion

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Stallion Nigeria Limited has denied owing Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) N13 billion.

Reacting to reports in a statement signed by Samar Sapre, chief financial officer of Stallion Nigeria, the company said: “Our attention has been drawn to an article circulating around in the media alleging that Stallion is indebted to GTB to the tune of N13 billion. The publication is false and the works of mischief makers as no such debt exists.

“Stallion has been in court with GTB since 2019 over allegations and claims with Stallion winning against GTB at the Court of Appeal, Nigeria. The matter is yet in court and to that extent remains subjudice.

“As a law-abiding corporate entity with faith in the Nigerian judiciary, we refrain from commenting on a matter that is subjudice except to clarify that the publication is false, mischievous and a ploy to smear the unblemished reputation of Stallion.

“We implore the general public to ignore the publication as there is no such court verdict existing anywhere as alleged in the publication. The matter is still pending in court.”

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Kaduna CAN chairman calls for arrest of bank officials over cash scarcity

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Joseph Hayab, chairman of the Kaduna chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has called for the arrest and prosecution of bank officials hoarding the new naira notes.

His statement came amid the scarcity of the new naira notes across the country — a situation that is heightening tension and causing hardship for Nigerians.

Hayab, who spoke in Kaduna on Sunday, commended President Muhammadu Buhari on the direction of the policy aimed at deterring vote buying.

The cleric said the Central Bank of Niger(CBN) should do everything possible to make the currency available to end the hardship.

“Notwithstanding CAN believe that despite the temporary pains Nigerians face, the citizenry is prepared to support the president on the matter of the deadline, especially if it would assist to ease the tension in the country,” he said.

“Therefore, managers of banks who are found to hoard the new naira notes to create artificial scarcity, but are behind the public arena helping money-bag politicians to get the new notes, set the public up against the CBN’s new policy.

“Such banks and bankers should be investigated, and if found culpable, be made to face the wrath of the law.

“CAN will continue to sensitize and mobilize our faithful to support any programme which results could bring about good service delivery for a better nation.”

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‘Bank officials sell naira notes to us’ — PoS operators explain increase in charges

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Point of sale (PoS) operators have claimed that bank officials sell cash (both old and new naira notes) to them.

In separate interviews with NAN in Abuja on Friday, some of the operators said they pay an exorbitant fee which depends on the amount withdrawn.

To make up for the extra expense, they explained that they had no choice but to increase the charges paid by customers.

They further appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to penalise banks involved in the act.

An operator along Nyanya-NNPC road, who preferred anonymity, said she paid the extra charge to keep her business going.

”I paid a very high amount to get this money that I am giving to customers. If you look around here, other operators did not open,” she said.

”The woman (bank official) that I collect money from even increased the money today because she said that cash is scarce and she kept it for me because I called her earlier to do so.

”I pay according to the amount I collect. Sometimes, I pay as high as N5,000 for N50,000 to N70,000 that I collect from her.

”I charge N500 for every N5,000 withdrawn and N1000 for every N10000 withdrawn for me to recover what I spent to collect the money.”

Also speaking, Nnedi Ikonye, a PoS operator along Lugbe, said she paid N3,000 for withdrawing N65,000 in a bank.

”I was asked to pay N3,000 for the N65,000 that I withdrew from a bank and that is because I know someone in that bank,” Ikonye explained.

“That is just a token compared to what my colleagues are paying. They pay more because they don’t know people in the bank.”

Alphonsus Idah, a PoS operator at Mararaba market, urged the CBN to impose sanctions against banks who persist in selling cash to their customers.

This, he explained, would stop the untold hardship faced by citizens.

Another PoS operator, who pleaded anonymity, alleged that bank officials usually withdraw money for their clients.

“In some banks, ATM will not work even though they are loaded with cash,” the operator said.

“During close of work, the bankers will turn the machine on and queue to withdraw from the machine.

“The annoying thing is that one banker can hold like 10 different ATM cards and will withdraw from all of them. This is frustrating.”

In a bid to address long queues at automated teller machines (ATMs), the CBN had directed banks to commence payment of redesigned notes over the counter, with a daily limit of N20,000.

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