A handful of international broadcast journalists drawn from CNN, NPR, CNBC and other reputable networks have accused Nigeria’s former Vice President and owner of Gotel Africa Media Limited, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, of breaching a one year contract they had with the company as consultants.
The workers, who claimed they are owed several months of salaries, 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.
According to the team, their mission was to launch an international news channel based in Abuja for Atiku but barely 10 months after they arrived Nigeria, they were forced to leave with major outstanding salaries despite having valid work visas issued by the Nigerian Government.
Narrating his sad ordeal, Chu revealed that all the promises made to them by Atiku’s company were never fulfilled.
He said, “Before I left New York, John Chiahemen and Gary Alfonso gave me the rundown of what I’d be doing when I arrived.
“I was told that I’d be based in Abuja for a year. I was told that the project was fully funded, to the tune of several millions of United States dollars.
“I was told that we had a facility ready to build out and funds budgeted for equipment. None of this was true.”
Guinan, who was hired in 2014 to act as Gotel’s Director of Television and Digital Media, said, “I was told to bring my family, my wife and our baby girl, who wasn’t even two years old at the time.
“My contract promised a three-bedroom house in Abuja and a driver. From the moment we landed almost nothing promised was delivered.
“We were immediately placed in substandard accommodations, a motel and unfriendly staff.”
In his remarks, Osodo from Kenya and former producer with Reuters, said, “I lost most of my belongings due to indebtedness.
“My house was repossessed by the bank because of delayed payments by Gotel.
“By the way, I couldn’t make the payments for months because I had banked on the contract I signed that bore the name and bond of Abubakar Atiku.”
Efforts by the affected persons to get their salaries via serial of letters through their lawyers to Gotel and Atiku have yielded no results.
Atiku’s spokesperson, Paul Ibe, didn’t respond to calls and text messages to his mobile telephone line by SaharaReporters over the matter.