A defence witness on Monday told the National Industrial Court sitting in Jos that workers employed under the SURE-P by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency Subsidy Reinvestment, MCH were laid off via text messages across the nation.
Egahi Ada, Director of Audit, NPHCDA, made the disclosure in his testimony before the court during cross-examination by the Counsel to 159 plaintiffs, Philemon Dafi.
The 159 employees under the SURE-P programme, had dragged the Federal and Plateau Governments before a Justice Kenneth Amadi, National Industrial Court, over alleged unpaid N400 million in salaries and allowances.
The employees, through their counsel, Dafi, alleged in an originating summon that sometimes in 2015 the defendants stopped payment of their salaries and allowances without just cause while they continued to work until the institution of the case before the Court.
Also joined in the suit are the NPHCDA, State Ministries of Health and Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and 12 out of 17 Local governments.
Ada said: “What I know is that we gave them employment letters which was for a year engagement and thereafter we sent text messages to all of them disengaging them across the nation.
“We told them in the text messages that they would be called upon when necessary. This was because the Sure-P programme was discontinued by the new administration.
“But when we were ready to re-engage them, we engaged only few of them and not all.’’
But when Dafi asked him, whether he was aware that virtually all the Geographical Zones have cases against the agency in courts following the alleged injustices done to the workers, the witness answered in the negative.
On whether he knows if out of the 16 defendants, he was the only that was claiming the programme had ended with the President Jonathan-administration, he said no.
After the testimony of Ada, the Defence counsel, Godwin Garba, applied for an adjourned on the grounds that his second witness had travelled outside the country.
Dafi and other defence counsel did not object to the application.
Justice Amadi, the presiding judge, then adjourned the case to May 15, May 16 and May 17, for continuation of defence.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports on Monday that the claimants included 71 Midwives, who were earning N40, 000 as monthly take home and 85 community extension workers earing N25,000 each month beside N5,000 accommodation allowances to all of them.