Fresh Trouble For Governor Ayade As Court Gives Him 60-Day Deadline To Pay Magistrates’ 19-Month Salary Arrears
The National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Calabar Division, ruled in favor of the claimants in Suit No. NICN/CA/46/2019 on March 29, 2021.
The plaintiffs in the suit are serving Magistrates in the Cross River State Judiciary, and they filed the suit on 5/12/2019 to challenge their names being removed from government payroll in an arbitrary and unceremonious manner. In October 2020, the claimants were reinstated to the payroll, but without reimbursement of their accumulated arrears.
The Court granted almost all of the claimants’ requests in the judgment, which was read electronically via zoom app by His Lordship, M. N. Esowe, including the payment of salary arrears from December 2016 to May 2017 and September 2019 to September 2020. (i.e. a total of 19 months unpaid salary arrears).
The state governor’s action of removing/de-activating the names of civil servants, including the claimants, from payroll was also condemned by the Court. It claimed that statutory jobs is not dependent on a governor’s wishful thinking, and that the governor’s decision to delist, de-activate, or delete the claimants’ names from payroll prior to a so-called scheduled verification exercise amounted to placing the cart before the horse, and thus to executive rascality.
The defendants’ conduct of making unauthorised deductions from the claimants’ wages under the pretext of buying laptops to boost and enhance the claimants’ productivity was also condemned by the Court. As a result, the Court ordered the claimants to refund all deductions already made and issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendants, their servants, or privies from deducting more amounts from the claimants’ wages under the guise of buying computers or some other deduction without the claimants’ permission or authorization.
The Court, however, turned down the plaintiffs’ requests for general and exceptional damages, as well as 20 percent post-judgment interest, and instead ordered the defendants to comply with the judgment within 60 days.
The plaintiffs’ co-counsel, James Ibor Esq, thanked his clients and claimed that the judgment was well-deserved.
The Governor of Cross River State, the Government of Cross River State, and the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Cross River State were named as defendants in the lawsuit. Cross River State Civil Service Commission and Cross River State Judicial Service Commission are two others.
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