Expatriate workers owed money by Gotel, a company owned by Nigeria’s former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, have said they are dismayed by his response to their demands of wanting their salaries, terming it a cheap public relations stunt by his agents to hide the truth from the world.
Atiku while responding to an exclusive story by SaharaReporters on January 9, 2020 exposing how Gotel failed to pay expatriate workers for several months in breach of their contract, had on Thursday channelled the blame to former Gotel Chief Executive Officer, John Chiahemen, of stealing salaries meant for the expatriate staff.
But in a swift reaction on Friday, the affected workers including David Guinan, Ebong Udoma, William Chu, Deven Petley, Susie Illiyan, Teddy Vuong, Hannington Osodo, Kostas Sergeiadis and Richard Spiropoulos accused Atiku of being economical with the truth.
Udoma, a former Chief Editor of Gotel Africa TV says Atiku’s remarks only confirms that he owes them salaries and that turning the blame on John Chiahemen does not in any way absolve Atiku from paying.
He said, “Besides, there have been newspaper reports of Gotel workers in Yola being owed months of salaries last year, are we to believe that John who had left since 2016 is responsible for that too?”
The affected workers say that final figures for settlement were reached on following an audit called by Gotel board after John left.
Promises were made to pay the salaries owed in 2016 but nothing happened since that period.
Former Gotel COO, Gary Alphonso, said the station’s operations were stalled soon after Atiku left the management financially crippled.
He said, “What does not change is the fact that Atiku left us all including John in a lurch and financially crippled. None of the promises they made to us ever materialised.
“If he (Atiku) makes Paul Ibe release a statement implicating John in having been given payments and not released it to staff, it means he may well have approved payments that never reached us.
“The people who controlled the money flowing to us were Babalele and Abdullahi. Maybe they kept it.”
Meantime Chiaheman, who was on transit when contacted by our correspondent over the matter, said he had instructed his lawyers to issue a statement on his behalf regarding the accusations made by Atiku.