A former Vice-President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has blamed a man named John Chiaiheman for the unpaid salaries of foreign staff hired as consultants for his media outfit, Gotel.
Atiku’s position followed an exclusive report by SaharaReporters on January 9, 2020 exposing how Gotel failed to expatriate workers for several months in breach of their contract.
The affected workers are international broadcast journalists drawn from CNN, NPR, CNBC and other reputable networks, according to the report.
The workers revealed that they left Nigeria hapless and with only promissory notes instead of monies owed them by Gotel.
The affected persons include David Guinan, Ebong Udoma, William Chu, Devon Petley, Susie Iliyan, Teddy Vuong, Hannington Osodo, Kostas Sergiadis and Richard Spiropoulos.
They were all hired between late 2014 and early 2015 by Atiku's company based in Yola, Adamawa State, SaharaReporters’ story revealed.
But in a statement through his media team, Atiku blamed Chiaiheman for the non-payment of the expatriate workers.
The statement reads, “For the avoidance of doubt, the funds dedicated to the payment of salaries of staff, both local and expatriates that were engaged by Chiamehen himself were made available to him. All those concerned are advised to contact Mr Chiamehen accordingly.
“To retool its operations, Gotel had in 2013 hired one Mr John Chiahemen to lead the planning, design, build-out and rollout of TV Gotel Africa to be based in Abuja.
“To this end, Chiamehen was given a free hand by the founder and board of the company to run the affairs of Gotel.
“Requisite resources as requested by Chiamehen were made available. On his own part, Chiamehen had committed to a revenue profile of N150m, among others.
“But by 2016, there were concerns that the Chiamehen management was only long in promises and short in performance, prompting the then board to empanel an ad-hoc visitation committee to examine the state of the company. The findings of that committee were damning.
“Consequently, the committee recommended the need for a comprehensive audit of the company. The audit revealed serious fiduciary infractions by the Chiamehen led management.
“Further to the audit report, a board meeting was convened to consider the auditor’s report.
“However, before that meeting, Mr John Chiamehen bolted and has refused to make himself available to account for the huge resources put in his charge.
“On December 14, 2016, a formal petition on alleged breach of trust, fraud and misappropriation of funds against the former managing director was filed at the FCIID (Interpol) for investigation.
“Mr Chiamehen is encouraged to make himself available to give account of all monies put in his charge during his tenure as MD/CEO of Gotel.”