Court orders Nasarawa Govt. to deposit N182.5m before appealing judgment

Court orders Nasarawa Govt. to deposit N182.5m before appealing judgment

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 7:16 pm

Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State

National Industrial Court (NIC) in Jos on Tuesday ordered the Nasarawa State Government and Nasarawa United Football Club of Lafia to deposit N182.5 million in an interest-yielding account.

Justice Kenneth Amadi ordered both parties to deposit the amount in an interest-yielding account before they could file an appeal against its judgment.

The amount, N182,544,000, is the total sum the management of the state government-owned club is owing five former coaches and 37 players, being their unpaid salaries and sign-on fees.

The court, which heard the suit of the claimants, delivered judgment on April 16 and ordered the government to pay on or before April 30, 2018.

However, when the state government sought leave of court for a stay of execution of the April 16 judgment, Justice Amadi ordered it to deposit the amount in an account.

“Before a stay on the matter could be heard, the money (N182.5m) must first be lodged in an interest-yielding account.

“You (the Nasarawa State Government) must bring the money here. When you go and lose at the appellate court, the awardees will take the money. But, if you win, we shall give it back to you,’’ the judge stated.

Amadi then gave the state government up till Nov. 19 to bring or present the cheque of the said money to the court before its motion could be heard.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Messrs Paul Hammache and A.G.Yirvoms, counsel to the coaches and players respectively, had challenged the Nasarawa state government’s application.

The state government had applied to move a motion for a stay of judgment as it intends to appeal.

“By the rules of this court, the Judgement Debtor/Applicant can’t move any motion or be heard until and unless the amount awarded is lodged in an interest-yielding account of the court.

“That is the rule and they must do that first, before the court can hear them as it relates to the judgment and award to the coaches and players,’’ Yirvoms argued.

The judge, who agreed with Yirvoms, however adjourned the case to Nov. 19.

This was for the applicant to lodge in the account the money and hear the motion filed by the state government for stay of execution of the judgment before its appeal.

NAN reports that the coaches and players had separately sued the state government and the club over their failure to pay their entitlements amounting to N182.5 million since 2015.

The coaches are Evans Ogenyi, Sylvester Ekoja, Michael Jatau, Bala Nikyu and El-Shammah Inusa.

The coaches, who are now the judgment creditors/respondents along with the players, had differently served as Technical Adviser, assistant coach, chief coach, goalkeeper trainer and chief trainer before being laid off.

They were laid off in 2015, alongside the 37 players.

The two groups had approached the court through their counsel.

In their separate prayers, they urged the court to compel the club and the state government to pay them the entitlements.

This was awarded to them by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Players Status/Arbitration Committee on Oct. 10, 2015.

The club and the government, through their counsel, the state’s Solicitor-General, had objected to the applications and asked the court to strike the suit out.

He had argued that the plaintiffs’ application lacked merit, saying the court also lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

But Justice Amadi, in his judgment, upheld NFF arbitration panel’s earlier submission in the case.

Amadi held that NFF’s judgment was in order and further argued that the court had jurisdiction to adjudicate on the cases by virtue of Section 254 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“The issues here border on employment and unpaid salaries and other entitlements.

“By the rules of this court and by Section 254 of the Constitution, it has the jurisdiction to adjudicate and to enforce any arbitrary award connected and arising from such disputes relating to non-payment of salaries, which is its exclusive right.

“The applications filed by the state government and Nasarawa United FC have therefore failed, and I hereby adopt the NFF Players Status/Arbitration Committee’s Award as the judgment of this court.

“I hereby order the respondents (Nasarawa state government and Nassarawa United FC) to pay all the awardees their entitlements in fulfillment of the award on or before April 30, 2018.

“In the light of this, the applicants have been granted leave to enforce this judgment from this date,’’ the judge held.

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