James Emejo in Abuja
The House of Representatives Committee on Local Content has recommended the the sack of 22 expatriate staff of Intels Nigeria Limited following the company’s flagrant violation of the local content law.
It further directed that the affected staff be deported and that 12 Nigerian workers hitherto sacked by the management on grounds of redundancy be reinstated with immediately effect, with their full entitlements paid.
Intels had been under investigation by the committee, chaired by Hon. Emmanuel Ekon (PDP, Akwa Ibom), following a petition by the sacked staff who alleged unjust termination of their appointments and subsequent employment of expatriates to take over their jobs.
They argued the company’s action constituted a gross violation of the provisions of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Act 2010 and expatriate quota racketeering.
However, Ekon, in his report said the company systematically embarked on the disengagement of their Nigerian workers under the guise of declaring redundancy but turned around to hire foreigners who received higher remuneration to do the same job.
He said:”Sometime in 2015 and 2016, Intels declared redundancy in accordance with the Nigerian Labor Act in respect of which Nigerian indigenous staff of junior, middle and senior/management cadre made up of 414 junior staff, 285 senior staff and 21 management staff totaling 1245 staff altogether were made redundant and laid off.
However, their positions were immediately taken up by new expatriate staff of different nationalities employed by Intels contrary to the Nigerian Labor Act, Nigerian Content Development Act, the Nigerian Immigration Act and equity and good conscience.”
The committee, further queried the company for misleading them into believing that they laid off the Nigerian workers to save cost when in the real sense their motive was to employ foreigners that received higher pay which made the country to lose huge sums of money to capital flight.
Intels was also indicted for engaging in quota racketeering by obtaining quotas with one position and using it to falsify immigration documents that made it possible for expatriates to lawfully remain employed in Nigeria.
Its failure to get proper documentation from the Nigerian Content Board in respect of expatriates employed was a violation of the law.
Ekon said: “The Committee has come to the very painful conclusion that Intels is in violation of at least four separate extant laws of Nigeria. The so called redundancy exercise was in fact a monumental and mindless ruse to get rid of qualified and able Nigerians from its work force in order to make it possible for Intels to employ expatriate staff for the very same position that had been officially declared redundant by Intels. That Intels claim of cutting cost is not true as the cost of employing the expatriates to replace Nigerians far outweighs the cost of keeping the Nigerians employed.”
The committee added that during the painstaking probe, it was revealed that no expatriate staff was affected by the purported redundancy claim; rather, 16 new expatriate staff were employed in 2016.
It said there was brazen and incontrovertible evidence of violations buttressed by documentary evidence and that its recommendations should be implemented to serve as deterrence to others.