Wednesday, August 9, 2017 8:21 pm
The Plateau Government has debunked claims that local government councillors it sacked in July 2015, were entitled to severance allowances following the voiding of that sack by a Jos High Court.
The government, through its counsel, Mr Garba Pwul (SAN), was reacting to a claim by the councillors’ counsel, Mr Gyang Azi, that they were entitled to N1.57 billion being monies they would have earned in the remainder of their tenure.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Gov Simon Lalong had, on July 15, 2015 sacked elected officials in the 17 local governments and replaced them with interim management committees.
The officials had nine months left to serve out their two-year tenure when they were thrown out.
Miffed by the action, the councillors dragged the government before Justice David Mann of Jos High Court 111.
Mann ruled in their favour on Aug. 4, 2017.
In the ruling, Mann faulted the removal of the elected councillors when their two-year tenure was remaining nine months.
He declared that their sack violated section 23 of the Local Government Council Law and Provisions of Sections 1 and 2 of the Plateau amended Local Government Council Law of 2007.
An elated Zi later told newsmen that the sacked officials, by the favourable ruling, were entitled to being paid all monies that would have accrued to them in the nine months they were thrown out.
“We are happy that the court ruled in our favour even though it did not give an order for the garnishing of the accounts of the state and local governments.
“By this judgement, my clients, 271 of them, are entitled to N1.57 billion as their severance allowance from the state government.
“As we speak, we are already preparing our letter demanding for the payment of the entitlements,” Zi said.
But Pwul, who described Zi’s claim as “mischievous”, said that the judgement did not order the payment of any entitlement to the councillors after voiding their sack.
“The councillors are not entitled to anything. A careful study of the judgement showed that Justice Mann did not mention or order for any payment.
“Page 32 of the judgement is very explicit; the plaintiffs’ principal claim was reinstatement, but that has since been struck out.
“The Judge was very careful not to make any consequential order. So, where did the dream of a severance package come from?
“We are not perturbed by Zi’s claim. It is frivolous and a figment of his imagination. No one will entertain any request for any entitlement for the sacked councillors.
“If the court had made that order, it would have been a different ball game, but there was nothing like that at all,” he stated.