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Retired workers charge NNPC to obey decision on harmonised pension  

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Retired workers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have asked the corporation to obey the decision of the court, which ordered it to pay them harmonised pension within 90 days.
  
Speaking under the aegis of the Retired Management Staff Association of NNPC (REMANSON), the chairman of the group, Chief Samson Azebeokhai, asked NNPC to obey the order made by Justice Elizabeth Oji of National Industrial Court (NIC), Lagos division. 
  
The trial judge while delivering judgment in the suit filed by REMANSON against NNPC and NNPC Pension Fund Limited, ordered the corporation to harmonise the claimants’ pension and pay them their benefits within 90 days.
  
The claimants filed the suit on behalf of the affected retirees on January 1, 1997 in suit no NICN/LA/329/2019.
  


Their counsel, Mr. Adeleke Agbola had asked the court for an order of mandamus to compel the defendants to pay them all accrued pensions calculated with effect from January 1, 1997 on emolument currently earned by their serving counterparts as prescribed under Federal Government Policy on Harmonisation of Pensions. The affected retirees are mostly pioneer staff of NNPC who retired before 2003.
  
In her judgment, the judge upheld the submissions of Agbola, who contended that by the construction of section 173 (3) of the 1999 constitution, clause 43 of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation’s Corporate Policy & Procedure Guide (CPPG) and Federal Government’s Circular No. SWC/S/04/S.8/25 dated May 11, 1999; the plaintiffs are entitled to their claims.
  
Justice Oji further held that by the provision of section 318 of the 1999 constitution, the claimants are public servants and hence, the defendants must ensure the periodic harmonisation of the pension of its retirees as provided under Section 173 of the constitution.
  
The court, in its judgment, took notice of the Federal Government Civil Service Circular of 1998, which directed all government departments to implement all the harmonisation of pension of retired public servants, which was accepted and recognised by the defendants.   

The court also rejected the defendants’ argument that the payment of pension should be based on affordability and sustainability, and held that payment must be based on provisions of the constitution and government policy as expressly provided for in section 173 of the Constitution and the circular.
  
Justice Oji therefore ordered the defendants to comply with the order of the court within 90 days and awarded the cost of N200, 000 in favour of the claimants.


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