Ex-Judges vs Akala: Hearing Date Fixed

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Governor Alao-Akala of Oyo State

The case filed by the 11 retired judges of the Oyo state High Court against  Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala has been slated for hearing  on  April 5, 2011.

Gov. Adebayo Alao-Akala

PM NEWS gathered today that the state’s Chief Judge, Bolajoko Adeniji, has assigned Justice Muktar Ladi Abimbola of High Court three to adjudicate in the matter.

The retired judges, comprising three Chief Judges, two acting Chief Judges and six other judges, who served for decades in the state’s judiciary are seeking judicial redress over non-payment of their severance gratuities.

The aggrieved jurists are: N.O. Adekola, M.O. Adio, R. G. Oyetunde, A. Adeniran, J.O. Ige, K. Jimoh, L.O. Arasi, A. Sanda, Atilade Ojo, S.O. Akintola and T.O. Adeniran (deceased).

In the suit  a suit  filed by their counsel, Lasun Sanusi (SAN), the applicants accused the governor and the state’s Attorney-General and commissioner for Justice, Aare Ladi Abdusalam of flouting the provisions of the 1999 constitution, on “Certain Political Public and Judicial Office Holder (Salaries and Allowances) Act 2002 and the amended Act 2008 as the duo conspired to deny them payment of their gratuities.

In their originating summon, they pray the court to determine four posers which include whether the state government is not bound by the provisions of the law on the payment of the entitlement; whether, following their retirement, they are not entitled to the pay; whether having completed their services in the state’s judicial service, it is not wrong for the state to deny them their severance entitlement; and whether the denial should be compensated with interest on the payable sums.

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The claimants, anticipating affirmative reactions to their questions, also seek from the court five consequential reliefs, “Declaration that each of the 1st to 10th claimants, including the estate of Late Hon Justice T.O. Adeniran (Rtd) is entitled to be paid severance gratuity to be based on 300 % of each claimant’s annual basic salary while in service.

“Declaration that the claimants are entitled to be paid interest on their respective unpaid severance gratuity from the date of their respective successful completion of their tenure of office till date of judgment and until the judgment is fully satisfied.

“Order restraining the defendants to pay the 1st to 10th claimants and the estate of late Honourable Justice T.A. Adeniran (11th claimant) forthwith their severance gratuities based on 300 % annual basic salary of each of the claimants.“Order directing the defendants to pay each of the claimants an estate of Late Honourable Justice T.A. Adeniran 21 % interest per annum on the severance gratuity from the date of their respective retirement till delivery of judgment and 10 % interest from the date of judgment till the judgment is fully satisfied.“Any such order or further order(s) as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstance of this case.

The National Judicial Council (NJC), in a circular to all heads of courts in the federal and states judiciary, had written to ‘notify all judicial officers in the federation that on retirement, they shall be entitled to payment of severance gratuity based on 300 % of their annual basic salaries’, adding that the payment must be made ‘once in life time after successful completion of tenure of office of the judicial officer’.In another circular dated December 21, 2009, the NJC also said, in respect of the severance gratuity that ‘the National Judicial Council is responsible for payment of severance gratuity to only retired federal judicial officer, while the state government is responsible for payment of same to state judicial officers’.

By Gbenro Adesina/Ibadan