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FG, pensioners suit: Court to deliver judgment May 19

The National Industrial Court on Tuesday adjourned until May 19 to deliver judgment in the suit between the Federal Government and some dissatisfied pensioners.

Judge’s gavel PHOTO: Getty Images / Photodisc

The National Industrial Court on Tuesday adjourned until May 19 to deliver judgment in the suit between the Federal Government and some dissatisfied pensioners.

Defendants in the suit are the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Minister of Labour and Employment, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

Other defendants include the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, the Director-General, the National Pension Commission and the Chairman, of the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission.

They appeared in court processes as first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth defendants respectively.

The suit, which came up before Justice Osatohanmwen Obaseki- Osaghae, is seeking the interpretation of the court on the legality of the Pension Reform Act 2014.

The claimants are: Chike Ogbechie, Fatima Ahmad, Olanrewaju Ale, Vitus Ajaeegbe, Abubakar Giza and Samuel Ajayi.

Others are: Dama Douglas and Muhammed Maccido, all retired from the public and civil service.

They approached the court through their counsel, Chiezonu Okpoko, SAN, by way of Originating Summons seeking the interpretation of the court on Pension Reform Act in regards to Section 173 (1) (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Republic of Nigeria as amended.

When the matter was called, Okpoko informed the court that Emmanuel Omonowa was to lead the proceeding.

Omonowa in his submission said the claimants instituted the suit with respect to their pensions and gratuities in view of the seculars issued by the defendants.

The counsel in addition stated that his clients after seeing the seculars needed the interpretation of the court as it affected them.

In regards to the seculars, he said his clients were seeking declarations in addition to five questions.

Omonowa further submitted that accompanying the statement on oath, including the additional statement of oath, which the court had earlier granted him leave of court to file, was an affidavit in support of the Originating Summons filed on Oct. 11, 2022, and a Written Address.

He equally stated that the claimants were relying on all the processes they filed as their argument in the matter and urged the court to grant the prayers sought.

By way of adumbration, Omonowa argued that by the provision of Section 173 (1) (2) of the 1999 Constitution, the position was clear about the preservation and rights of citizens concerning pension.

He also said the law provided that the pension act should be reviewed every five years and that it had not been done for the contributory pension scheme.

He said since the introduction of the new pension scheme in 2004, re-enacted through the Pension Reform Act 2014, that the allowances and pensions of pensioners under it had not been increased except for those under the old pension scheme

He added that some of the claimants who qualified for gratuity under the new scheme had not been paid despite several appeals.

Okechukwu Nwamba, Augustina Yayi, Peace Lawrence, David Agbonifu and A.M Muhammed, defence counsel that represented the second, third, fourth and fifth defendants all had similar arguments in urging the court to strike out the suit or dismiss it in its entirety.

There was no legal representation for the first and sixth defendants.

The arguments of the counsel from the submissions of their processes from Conditional Memorandum of Appearance, Preliminary Objections, Written Addresses and several paragraphs of the affidavit in support of their counter-affidavits submitted that the claimants did not have locus standi.

They also averred that there was no reasonable cause of action declared in the suit.

The court on its part after listening to the submissions of all the counsel fixed on May 19, to deliver judgment.