NLNG: Again, citizen cries out, heads to court

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By Wisdom Ohaegbule

Just as the cry of Warri-born Shedrack Ogboru of Macobarb International Limited is piercing the atmosphere in his wailing over alleged non-payment of his contract sums and termination of his contract, leading to endless petitions and a court case with the NLNG, another son of the Niger Delta, Michael Tambari, has taken over the atmosphere with his own outcry over what he called unlawful termination of appointment.

In Tambari’s case, he said he is not a staff of the NLNG but a staff of company working for the gas company and thus could not understand how a company he did not work for would terminate his appointment.

He thus headed to court to seek redress, if possible, in a land where the mighty snuffs out the minor.

Court:

National Industrial Court in Port Harcourt headed by Justice Nelson Ogbuanya has adjourned to June 16, 2022 the matter between Mr. Tambari Michael and the Nigeria Liquedify National Gas (NLNG) for cross examination.

Justice Ogbuanya, who adjourned the matter on the ground that the claimant’s counsel was unable to attend the court following the breakdown of his vehicle on his way to the court, fixed the new date to allow proceedings to continue.

It would be recalled that Mr. Tambari Michael has approached the court to challenge the termination of his appointment. He also prayed the Court to declare his termination illegal.

He contended that displaying his name and photo image amongst persons accused of criminal offences such as theft, forgery, attempted murder etc, is very defamatory and derogatorily which runs contrary to Section 4 of the NLNG Code of Conduct bordering on ‘Harassment’ which is in contrast to the way the claimant was treated

Our Correspondent also reports that included in the suit was Mrs. Abimbola Ibukunle, the company’s logistics supervisor when the services of the claimant was terminated.

Several civil society groups such as, the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations Rivers State chapter, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Ijaw Youth Congress, Finima Youth Congress (Host community to NLNG) have all been supportive in the matter and have written to the management of NLNG showing there displeasure, but the company still remains mute on the matter

THE CRY OF CITIZEN MICHAEL TAMBARI

My name is Tambari Michael. I am from Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State.

I work with AUGJ Services Ltd a contractor with Nigeria LNG LTD, Bonny Island, in Rivers State. I work there as a Logistic Support Personnel in shutdown activities (Driver) within the NLNG facilities in Bonny island. I have been working with AUGJ Services Ltd since September 2016 until the 29th of May 2018 when I was unlawfully sacked by one Mrs Abimbola Ibikunle, a staff of NLNG.

On the morning of 29th May 2018, I was called up by Mrs. Abimbola Ibikunle, a senior staff of NLNG, a Logistic Supervisor on shutdown activities. She called me into her office and on my arrival she asked me about a particular vehicle SKN 880 AE; she alleged that I have been using that particular vehicle to run my personal errands within the company’s residential area (NLNG RA). I disagreed with this statement because I was not in possession of the key of the said vehicle that particular period under reference. 

She also alleged that I come to work at will, saying that for these two reasons she has sacked me. She immediately seized my ID Card and asked me to leave the company premises, warning me that I should not be seen within the NLNG premises any further from that day henceforth.

After this unfortunate encounter, I rushed to my employer and reported the incident to them. To my surprise they were not informed of such allegations.

The following day, she sent an email to one Mr. Charles Onyekatu, also her colleague from the NLNG security department, asking him to deny me access into the company facilities. Because of this directive, Mr Charles Onyekatu even without conducting any form of further investigation published my name and photo image at all the various security entrances of the company facilities with the inscription “Tambari Michael (photo above) should no longer be allowed into company facility”.

The bad thing is that my name and photo image were published amongst those of persons alleged by the company (NLNG) to have committed serious criminal offences, ranging from theft, forgery, attempted murderer, impersonators etc.

It is a tradition in NLNG for people that committed serious criminal offences for their photo images to be published at the various security posts of the company only after a thorough investigation must have been done and concluded. This is for the purpose of alerting the general public as well as to notify the NLNG security personnel’s.

Now these publications are made visible to the entire general public and people seeing my name and photo image published together with persons alleged by the company to have committed serious crimes will liken me to be a criminal as well, of which is considered a defamation of character (character assassination).

I further leant from the Nigeria LNG Code of Conduct, Article 4 titled Harassment, on the need to “treat others with respect, harassment can result to disciplinary actions and may lead to dismissal”. It also states “Do not physically or verbally intimidate or humiliate others”. Also, “Never distribute or display offensive or derogatory materials including pictures”. So, if such is in the NLNG Code of Conduct and officials of the same company disregard it, then there should be serious consequences against them.

On the position of my employer (AUGJ Services) on the matter, to be fair, they tried to dialogue with these NLNG officials Mrs Abimbola Ibikunle, Mr Ben Urama, and Mr Charles Onyekatu who carried out this act, but they kept promising to revert their actions, and apologize to me for their ill-treatment towards me, but yet they never reversed it.

The funny aspect of the matter is that up till date my company has not sacked me because they did not find me wanting of any unlawful act. Though, my salary has been stopped because of this seemingly unlawful interference by these officials of the NLNG. 

Unfortunately, my company doesn’t have other job or contract elsewhere with other companies of which they would have sent me there.

My appeal

All I am asking is for justice in this matter.  Besides, I am making this publication to refute the allegations levied against me by Mrs. Abimbola Ibikunle.  These allegations are not true.  There was no investigation before my removal and subsequently placing my name and photo image at the various security posts of the company. I was treated badly and unjustly like a common criminal by these officials of NLNG. Normally, such allegations should have been reported to my employers. I should have been queried and if I am found guilty, then my employers should be the only ones to carry out consequence management on me.

They should have allowed my employers to investigate and decide on what course of action to be taken on me. Besides, there was no investigation by the company Enquiry Department on these allegations. I discovered that they were not even aware of my matter. All due processes and company rules, procedures and regulations were boycotted in the handling of my case.

So I want justice and to clear my name from any criminal records. Besides, I’m challenging my accusers to publish to me, my employers and the general public any report regarding this matter other than those alleged by Mrs Abimbola Ibikunle, just the way my name and photo image were published hastily.

Failed interventions

After about three months of unresolved negotiations between my employers AUGJ Services LTD and officials of NLNG, I reported the matter to the Bonny Local Government Legislative Council to intervene in the matter.  They sent several letters of invitations to both Mrs. Abimbola Ibikunle and Mr Ben Urama to come and speak on the matter but they refused to appear. The 3-man committee set up to look into this matter was made up of Hon (Sir) Adolphus Seth L (Committee Chairman); Hon Kingston Robert Hart (Member), and Hon Prince I Christy-Wilcox (Member). The committee carried out it’s own independent investigations, and both the committee and the entire legislative council were said to have been disappointed by the conduct of these officials of NLNG as they failed or refused to appear before the House after four letters of invitations.

I further again wrote a petition to the Rivers State House of Assembly (RSHA) through Chief Hon. Friday Nke-ee representing Khana Constituency 2. Invitations were also extended to these officials of NLNG, yet again they failed or refused to appear before the house.

After I’ve exhausted all possible means of resolving this matter, I decided it was time to seek justice at the National Industrial Court.

Disappointingly though, the management of Nigeria LNG Ltd had remained mute/silent to this injustice till date even after several appeals made to the out-gone MD/CEO Mr Tony Attah and other senior officials of the Nigeria LNG Ltd.

The company’s continued silence on this matter seems to suggest many things underground that bother on ‘Integrity’

It has also been a common occurrence for some staff members of NLNG to seize the ID cards of contractor’s personnel working in NLNG facilities at will or at the slightest provocation, as harassment, humiliation, intimidation, oppression by some staff members of NLNG has become widespread within NLNG work place.

These actions by staff members of NLNG have caused immense damage to me and my family at large, as I still remain unemployed till date. All am asking for is Justice! Justice!! Justice!!!

(Mr Tambari told newsmen he is open to out-of-court settlement)

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