When one of our correspondents contacted the Ministry of Finance, the Director of Information, Mr. Salisu Dambatta, confirmed that the ministry was meeting with the management of NAICOM on Thursday night.

Dambatta also said the meeting, chaired by the Permanent Secretary, would address the issues raised by the workers.

When asked to respond to claims that the minister had refused to intervene in the crisis because of the perceived closeness of Kari to the President, he stated, “I can confirm to you that a meeting with the management of NAICOM has been convened by the ministry.

“All I can say for now is that the meeting will be chaired by the Permanent Secretary and it is about now holding in the ministry.”

Workers state grievances

The workers’ union had in a letter alleged that the Deputy Commissioner for Insurance (Finance and Administration), Mr. George Onokhena, appropriated the sum of $70,000 to himself on the excuse of medical treatment in the United States without necessary approvals.

In the protest letter, the union also alleged, “The present Commissioner for Insurance, Alhaji Mohammed Kari, was indicted in May 2002 by the Justice Obiora Nwazota judicial panel report on the N54bn ‘loot’ of the liquidated Nigeria Airways Limited.

“The report recommended that Kari, who was the then Managing Director of NICON Plc, and several others be held responsible for the sum of $13m transferred to Alexander Services Limited by NICON Plc.

“The questions should be asked how he ran Unity Kapital Assurance Plc, Nigeria Re-Insurance Corporation, NICON Insurance Corporation and Niger Insurance Plc.

“Was due diligence not done by the Presidency before his appointment?”

The workers also expressed dissatisfaction with what they described as lack of succession in NAICOM.

They claimed that it was in the habit of the management to fill vacancies of directors from outside instead of allowing workers in such departments to grow professionally.

They listed the positions filled through that process to include administration, inspectorate, authorisation and policy.

The letter read in part, “This issue is responsible for high level stagnation being experienced in the commission. The directors were brought from outside to fill vacancies.

“The director, inspectorate came in with an NCE certificate against the requirement of the advertisement that specifically stated a minimum of a degree or its equivalent for the position.”

Security agencies keep mum

There were reports last week that Kari was arrested by operatives of the Department of State Services following the protest by the workers.

But Salami said that the commissioner was never arrested by the DSS or the police.

“He was never arrested by the Department of State Services as it is being circulated. The DSS and the police attached to NAICOM for security only paved the way for him to leave the office and avoid any molestation at the entrance to the commission,” he had stated.

Attempts to get the DSS and the police to explain if Kari was actually arrested were not successful as of the time of sending this story on Thursday. The DSS has yet to get a spokesperson.

Also, the Federal Capital Territory Police Public Relations Officer, Anjuguri Manzah, did not respond to calls to his mobile telephone number and the SMS sent to him.

When one of our correspondents contacted the Special Adviser to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr. Nwachukwu Ngige, he said that he could not give an immediate response on the issue.

Ngige said the minister just came in from the Federal Executive Council meeting and had entered into another meeting at the ministry.

He said, “Honestly, I don’t know, and I am not with the minister now. Two, he just came in from the Federal Executive Council meeting.

“So, there will be no immediate action. I cannot meet with him because he is in a meeting.”

The Deputy Director in charge of Press at the ministry, Mr. Samuel Olowookere, did not pick repeated calls to his mobile telephone line on Wednesday.

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