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Court Orders Etche LGA Chairman To Pay 4 Former Councilors N33.2M Outstanding Entitlements Within 30 Days

Hon. Justice Edith Agbakoba of the Abuja Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has ordered the Etche Local Government Council to pay 4 former councilors, Honourable Kirian Nwosu and 3 others the sum of N8, 304, 311.07 (Eight Million, Three Hundred and Four Thousand, Three Hundred and Eleven Naira, Seven Kobo) each being their outstanding statutory entitlements under the Rivers State Public and Political Office Holders’ Salaries, Allowances and Fringe Benefits Law, from April 2004 when they were sworn in as Councilors till May 2007 when their tenure expired, with the sum of N1m as Cost within 30 days

The Court ruled that Honourable Kirian Nwosu and 3 others have clearly shown their entitlement as elected Councilors, and the Etche Local Government Council argument that Honourable Kirian Nwosu and 3 others had not proven to the court the Council’s liability in the case is most untenable, especially after considering the state of affairs of Local Government Councils. From facts, the Claimants- Honourable Kirian Nwosu and 3 others had submitted that they were all elected as Councilors on 27th March 2004 and were accordingly sworn in to represent their respective Wards in the Defendant.

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They averred that they were entitled to their salaries, allowances and benefits during their tenure in office as Councilors from April 2004 to May 2007, as prescribed by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) in the Remuneration Package for Legislature at the Local Government Level and was further passed into Law by the Rivers State House of Assembly.

The former lawmakers maintained that their tenure as Councilors ended on May 2007, they were however not adequately and fully paid their said statutory monthly emoluments as prescribed under the Remuneration Law, and all efforts to get their entitlements proved abortive.

In defense, the Defendant- Etche Local Government Council averred that the purported Remuneration Package for Legislature at the Local Government Level with Circular of 7th November 2001 and Reviewed Circular of 7th February 2007 being mere statutory instruments issued by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission have no applicability in Rivers State of Nigeria or the cause of action in the suit.

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The Council further averred that it does not owe any entitlements to the former lawmakers as it bears no obligation to Honourable Kirian Nwosu and 3 others for any monies accruing to them under the Rivers State Public and Political Office Holders’ Allowances and Fringe Benefits Law.

Counsel to the Council contended that in making out the case for their entitlements under the said law, Hon. Kirian Nwosu and 3 others failed to draw the Court’s attention to the section of the principal law or its amendment which places liability of payment of such entitlements on his clients.

In response, the former lawmakers stated that the directive of the Rivers State House of Assembly, the acknowledgement of the debts and the part-payment made by the Defendant’s Chairman were all of public notice, as they were published in the newspapers where he acknowledged that the debt owed the Claimants were owed in bad faith and total abuse of office and breach of the law.

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Delivering judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Edith Agbakoba held that Honourable Kirian Nwosu and 3 others have proved to their entitlement to the satisfaction of the Court considering the state of affairs of Local Government Councils and under the Rivers State Public and Political Office Holders’ Salaries, Allowances and Fringe Benefits Law.

“It is necessary to note that Section 7 of the 1999 CFRN (as amended) provides for a democratically elected third tier of government. The Rivers State Laws and even the Remuneration Package for Legislature at the Local Government Level with the Circular of 7th November 2001/the Reviewed Version of it, Volume 11 of 7th February 2007 and all support the constitutional provision I find.” Justice Agbakoba ruled

Source: barristerng.com

 

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