The intervention of the two federal legislative chambers was as a result of a petition written by a Lagos-based lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), asking the lawmakers to look into the plight of 892 former employees of the NIFOR.
Fawehinmi had claimed in the petition that the federal government had in 1994 terminated the appointments of the workers in controversial circumstances without paying their pensions, gratuities and other benefits.
Meanwhile, the Senate, in a letter dated May 11, 2009 which was sent to Gani Fawehinmi’s chamber and signed by Mr. Agbo Ogah, the chief of staff to the Senate President acknowledged the receipt of the petition.
The letter stated that the matter has been referred to the chairman, Senate committee on agriculture for further action. The letter further assured the NIFOR workers that justice would be done and commended the Fawehinmi’s chambers for drawing the attention of the Senate President to the issue.
Also during its proceedings of May 7, 2009, the House of Representatives listed for deliberations the petition written by Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), asking the lawmakers to look into the plights of former employees of the NIFOR.
Fawehinmi said in his petition that the former employees of the NIFOR have suffered untold economic hardship, alleging that the NIFOR had “deliberately refused to pay them their benefits earned after several years of meritorious services.”
The petition dated March 3, 2009 blamed the unstable conditions of the workers on the refusal of the supervisory ministry to secure funds for payments of accumulated benefits.
He decried the nonchalant attitude of the management of the NIFOR over the hardship of the former workers alleging that all previous letters by his chambers to the executive director of the institute on the matter since 2007 had yielded no positive results.
Besides, Fawehinmi claimed that all the previous correspondences had disappeared from both the NIFOR establishment and its supervisory ministry, and expressed dismay that the ministry of agriculture and water resources had in 2008 defended its supplementary budget without any attempt to consider the needs of the neglected workers.
He lamented that similar fate might have occurred to the aggrieved workers in the 2009 budget and urged the lawyer makers to investigate the matter and prevail on the appropriate authority to settle the benefits of the workers.