22nd September, 2011
Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has warned that any senior public officer who, through negligence, incurs judgment debt liability against Lagos State will be held responsible.
He said due process must be followed in disciplining errant officers to avoid unnecessary litigations.
Fashola gave this warning at a one-day workshop organised by the Directorate of Advisory Services, Ministry of Justice, for permanent secretaries, state counsels, directors of finance and administration and other management staff.
The governor, represented by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, noted that increasing litigations against government over allegations of wrongful and unlawful dismissals, have become worrisome.
â€œThe government cannot continue to pay and be responsible for such acts,â€ Fashola had said.
With theme: Attaining Excellent Disciplinary Standard and Avoiding Government Liability in Employer/Employee Dispute,
it was the second in the series of such workshops.
Ipaye said government was worried about public officers who delay or fail to give essential information to litigation officers.
This, he said, has led to government paying avoidable compensations.
Fashola, Ipaye said, has directed that officers who fail to work with law officers in defending the state should be reported to him.
â€œHis Excellency has given an express directive that if there is default in response either to a petition by a private citizen or advice of Ministry of Justice by anyone, I, as the Commissioner for Justice, should take it up at our Executive Council level.
â€œIt means I donâ€™t have the liberty to keep such default to myself any longer,â€ Ipaye added.
Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Mr. Lawal Pedro (SAN), urged ministries, departments and agencies to collaborate more with his ministry to prevent the burden of judgment debts.
He said there had been instances where government had to reinstate workers with full benefits and arrears, five to 10 years after they were dismissed.
â€œWe have situations where the court has ordered the re-instatement of officers who had been dismissed from service for over 10 years and for the payment of arrears of their salaries, including the restoration of their promotion,â€ Pedro noted.
Avoiding such liabilities, he said, is one way to save money and time and protect the stateâ€™s integrity.
Pedro attributed such court-ordered reinstatements to the failure of some principal officers to take appropriate steps to discipline errant workers.
He said even some workers who were due for dismissal had to be recalled because appropriate disciplinary steps were not taken against them.
Chairman, Lagos State Civil Service Commission, Dr. Olujobi Ososanya, represented by Mr. Israel Alagbe, said arbitration could also be explored in settling such disputes.