Six former staff of 234Next newspapers have taken the management of Timbuktu Media, and the publisher, Mr. Dele Olojede, to court for non-payment of salaries and allowances, wrongful termination of appointment and non-remittance of deducted pension benefits.
The case will come up for hearing before Justice B. B. Kaniyie of the National Industrial Court, Lugard Avenue, Lagos on Wednesday, June 29, 2011.
The former staff are former Sport Editor, Olukayode Thomas, Reporters, Opeyemi Olus and Bolade Oladoye. Others are Sola Babarinsa, Ireyimika Oyegbami and Damola Owoeye.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to order the management of Next newspapers to pay an aggregate sum of N4,592,450.03 k owed them in outstanding entitlements. They are also asking for a sum of N5 million each for general damages for “wrongful, unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional termination of their employment.”
When the case was first mentioned in court on May 25, lawyers for Timbuktu Media and Mr. Olojede pleaded for more time to file their defense.
The six former staff claimed that they were owed over four months salary but they continued to work diligently until their appointments were terminated without proper notice. In their claim, a copy of which is in Saharareporters' possession, they blamed the financial difficulty of the media house on the “reckless spending of its top managerial staff.”
They particularly blamed Mr. Dele Olojede whom they accused of riding “state of the art cars” and living in the “highbrow district of Lagos.”
The management of Next was also accused of failing to remit the 7.5% deduction it was making from each staff’s salary to the ARM Pension Fund.
According to the claim, the management of the newspaper also failed to remit taxes deducted from staff’s salaries to the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue.
Nigerian newspapers are notorious for not paying journalists their salaries and allowances on time. 234Next newspaper, with its Pulitzer award winning publisher, Mr. Dele Olojede, came into the Nigerian media industry with a promise to redefine the practice of journalism in Nigeria.
In 2010, Mr. Dele Olojede won an Ethics in Business Award at the World Forum for Ethics and Business in Belgium.