The African area of Y’s Men International says there is no truth in the claim that it surrendered a bus driver, Mr. Kolade Olabintan, and his bus as collateral for a debt of N1.9m it allegedly owed a hotel in Cross River State after a convention.
The President of the group, Mrs. Clara Adetuyi, told PUNCH Metro that Olabintan chose to stay with the bus after it was seized over the debt.
Adetuyi, who is a lawyer, said the organisation incurred the debt because many of its sponsors, who had promised to support the convention, failed the club at the eleventh hour.
PUNCH Metro had reported that the bus driver had conveyed the group to the Obudu Cattle Ranch sometime in October 2015, after an agreement to hire the bus for a week long convention.
However, at the end of the programme, the group was alleged to have left in another hired bus, leaving the driver and the bus behind because of a N1.9m debt.
After spending one month, the driver, Olabintan, said the club paid N1m and he was released, adding that six months afterwards, the bus had not been released.
The owner of the vehicle, Mrs. Agnes Layode, a pensioner, said her family members were starving because the vehicle was their only means of livelihood.
But the club’s president, Adetuyi, said on Tuesday that the bus would be released within one month, adding that the club had tasked its members to pay the debt.
She said before the convention, the organisation had written for corporate sponsorships from the Cross River State Government and a telecommunications company.
Adetuyi said she was not involved in the planning of the convention, but she chose the Obudu Cattle Ranch to showcase Nigeria’s tourism potential to members from other African states.
She said, “On getting to Obudu, the host convention committee allotted high profile accommodation to members, perhaps thinking that the state government’s promise would be fulfilled, but it wasn’t. It was after the convention that they realised that we had an outstanding balance of N1.9m to pay the ranch.
“The chairman of the convention offered to give a cheque, but the general manager refused to accept a cheque, saying it must be cash or nothing. The general manager demanded that the bus should be left behind until full payment was made in cash.
“At this point, our foreign delegates from India, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt and Cameroon, to mention a few, whose flights had already been booked, had to arrive Lagos early so as not to miss their flights.
“When the ranch’s general manager decided to hold the bus until the full payment was made, the driver volunteered to wait, saying his boss would sack him if he came back without the bus.”
She said the club agreed with the hotel’s management to provide accommodation for the driver, and she sent him over N30,000 during the period for his upkeep.
Adetuyi, however, said the money could not be withdrawn from the bank because the driver had yet to “regularise his BVN”.
She said she later sent him transport fare and asked him to return to Lagos.
She explained that after paying N1m out of the debt, the organisation made efforts to raise money from the state government, but it failed.
The group president said, “I have made several efforts personally to get the Cross River State Government to fulfill its promise. I got a legal mediator who made an offer to the ranch for us to pay additional N500,000 in full and final payment of the balance, which we are in the process of achieving.
“A few weeks ago, I was in Abuja for a meeting to seek a solution through my Law school set of ’88, which has highly respected members of society as members. Unfortunately, the meeting could not hold.”
She faulted the claim by the owner of the bus, Layode, that she did not show any concern, saying she gave her (Layode) money to pay the driver’s salary and clear due installment on the bus.
“We have tasked all our members and we are making efforts to get the bus released. In not more than a month, the vehicle should be released,” she added.
The driver, Olabintan, however, said he never volunteered to stay with the vehicle.
He said, “Her group gave me N4,000 for my upkeep which they said would be for four days, after which they would clear the debt, but I ended up spending one month. It was my boss and a friend that were sending money for my feeding. However, when I was about leaving, she sent N10, 000 for my transport fare from Cross River State to Lagos.”
Layode said Adetuyi only gave her N100,000, which she said was nothing compared to the value of the bus and the amount it would have made in six months.
“After the first report, she called and threatened me over my property. But I have handed everything to God,” she added. Copyright PUNCH.
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