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Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) on Friday led former workers of Champion Newspapers Limited (CNL) to protest at Oriental Hotels, Victoria Island, Lagos, venue of 2020 Champion Newspapers Excellence Awards, over unpaid 54 months’ salary arrears.
The protest against the management of the Newspapers was led by the Council Chairman, Dr. Quasim Akinreti as well as the National Trustee of the Union, Mr. Sylva Okereke.
It was gathered that as the protest was going on, the management of Champion Newspapers threatened to arrest the Council chairman and aggressively protesting workers, who were unperturbed over the threats by the police and management of the hotel.
The protesters told the dignitaries coming for the event that the Publisher of the Newspapers, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and the Managing Director of the Company, his daughter, Mrs. Nwadiuto Iheakanwa have been inhuman and very insensitive to the plights of the past and present staff of the company, as over 25 staff have so far died due to non-payment of many years salaries.
Whereas the daughter, Mrs Iheakanwa, had at various times before the sale of the Champion House assured workers that their salaries and all entitlements would be cleared as soon the House is sold, at the time of selling the massive property few years ago to Promasidor Group for N2.5 billion, she refused to pay staff that had earlier officially resigned whose lettters of acceptance of resignations clearly read that their money would be paid when condition improves or the building is sold..
Checks after the sale of the office complex showed that whereas no owed former staff were paid, those who were with the compnay as at the time of the complex sale received few percentage of their arraers which remained unfair before God and man under the managment of the publisher’s daughter, Mrs. Ihekanwa.
Majority of the dignitaries, who spoke to the protesters while approaching the venue, condemned the company’s wickedness, saying such a heartless company lacks the moral ground whatsoever to organise excellence awards, saying the company has no excellence of its own, staving workers of their salaries even after selling the property without any plan to pay them for the over 54 months.
Business Hilights reports that aggrieved protesters were seen carrying placards with inscriptions, “No Pay, no award! Madam, You’re Wicked!! You have enslaved our members!!!
Others read in part, “Champion management you’re heartless! Pay us our money” and “Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu enslaved our members”
It would be recalled that the 2020 Champion Newspapers Excellence Award was expected to attract at least two governors, including Governors Ayade and Ugwuanyi.
Other targeted recipients include the CEO of Air Peace, the GMD of Zenith Bank, Corporate chief of Access Bank, Mr Abdul Imoyo, Seplat and Globacom among others.
Some of the dignitaries, who spoke to the aggrieved former and current Champion workers assured that they would compel the publisher to pay them because every labourer deserves his or her wages or salaries.
However, fact check on the performance of the newspaper before and after the sale of the corporate head office showed that it hardly prints unless it gets a full page advert from entities that do not know that it has no more market share. Additional checks further revealed that it has joined the league of online publishers by operating patchy services from few rooms apartment somewhere in Ago palace Way, Isolo area of Lagos after selling away the formally imposing head office. It was not clear if the award finally took place due to the protest.
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