Abia govt set to settle gratuities, pension arrears of retired judges
Abia State government is set to pay the 16 years backlog of gratuities and pension of retired judges in the state.
This is coming on the heels of the agreement reached between Governor Alex Otti and the retired judges, led by a retired Chief Judge of the state, Justice Sunday Imo, to set up a joint committee to resolve the issue of outstanding entitlements.
Otti’s Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Kazie Uko, in a statement, yesterday, said past state administrations had since 2007, failed to pay retired judges their gratuities, consolidated allowances, severance packages, pension and miscellaneous entitlements.
He stated: “Successive administrations had made several commitments either by way of authorisations or approvals to make payment by installments, but none of those were fulfilled, leading to the judges filing an action at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in 2020 to recover their entitlements.”
According to the CPS, it was saddening that as the court cases raged, some of the judges died without receiving their benefits, while many fell sick and were unable to afford proper medical care.
He pointed out that the immediate past government had reportedly promised to pay N10 million every month, but only did so for only one month.
Uko noted that Otti, in his resolve to assuage the suffering of the retired jurists, met with them on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, in his residence in Nvosi, Isiala Ngwa South Council, and assured them of his resolve to bring their predicament to a close.
At the emergency meeting, the retired judges and their lead counsel, Prof. Awa Kalu, who is a former Attorney General of the state, agreed with the governor to immediately set up a committee to resolve the issue.
Uko said: “Members of the committee would be drawn from retired judges, officials from the Ministry of Justice and relevant officers of government, who would calculate and confirm the actual sum due to each of the judges or beneficiaries of those deceased and report back to the governor within two weeks.”
According to the serving state Attorney General and Justice Commissioner, Ikechukwu Uwanna, who was in attendance at the meeting, this is to enable the state government devise a pragmatic strategy that would ensure immediate liquidation of the outstanding retirement benefits.
“Governor Alex Otti condemned how the state has rewarded its citizens, who slaved for peace, development and progress of the state, with penury, promising to reverse the trend,” Uwanna remarked.
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