The Presiding Judge, Benin Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Adunola Adewemimo has ordered Igueben Local Government Council to pay Hon. Eric Ohonsi, Mr. Christopher Okhuelegbe, and Mr. Ralph Asemien the balance of their severance gratuities in the sums of N6.5m, payment of N4.7m to Mr. Christopher Okhuelegbe and Mr. Ralph Asemien as furniture allowances with the sum of N300,000 cost of action within 30 days.
Justice Adewemimo held that Hon. Eric Ohonsi and 2 others have established their entitlement to the severance gratuity and furniture allowances at the same rate of 300% of their annual basic salary as specified in the Edo State Emolument law.
The Court further stated that Edo state public and political officers Emolument Law, 2007, having been made by the body constitutionally charged to enact same is valid and subsisting, and has the force of law in Edo State.
From facts, the claimants – Hon. Eric Ohonsi and 2 others had submitted that they were former political office holders and served in Igueben Local Government Council from 2013 to 2016 and their severance gratuities and furniture allowances by virtue of Edo State Political and Public Officers Emolument Law remain unpaid despite repeated demands.
They continued that the Council only paid them each the sum of N200,000 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira) out of the total severance gratuity.
In defense, the defendant- Igueben Local Government Council on its part contended that Hon. Eric Ohonsi and 2 others are not entitled to the claim for severance gratuity and furniture allowance at the end of their tenure, that Edo State Political and Public Officers Emolument Law, relied upon has been declared by the apex court as unconstitutional, null, and void.
The defendant reiterated that Council were misled by Hon. Eric Ohonsi and 2 others on the payment of N200,000 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira) each, to which they were never entitled, urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.
In reply, Learned Counsel to the claimants, Prince Edobor Izebhigie Esq submitted that since the Edo State Political and Public Officers Emolument Law has not been repealed, his clients are entitled to 300% of their Annual Basic salaries each as severance gratuity and furniture allowance, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought in the interest of justice.
Delivering the Judgment after careful evaluation of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Adunola Adewemimo held that the failure of the defense counsel to attach the Certified True Copy of the unreported Court of Appeal Judgment to his written address, renders his submissions thereon incompetent.
Justice Adewemimo maintained that the Igueben Local Government Council did not proffer any proof on how it was misled on the payment of N200,000 to the claimants as part of their entitlement that the evidence tendered by Hon. Eric Ohonsi and 2 others stand unrebutted and can be acted upon by the court.
“The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd claimants are entitled to the immediate release and payment of the balance of their severance gratuities in the sums of N2,233,900 (Two Million Two Hundred and Thirty-Three Thousand, Nine Hundred Naira), N2,247,900 (Two Million Two Hundred and Twenty-Seven Thousand, Nine Hundred Naira), and N2,082,010 (Two Million Eighty-Two Thousand, Two Hundred and Twenty-Eight Naira) respectively.
“The defendant is ordered to release and pay the 2nd and 3rd claimants’ furniture allowances in the sums of N2,427,900 (Two Million Four Hundred and Twenty-Seven Thousand, Nine Hundred Naira), and N2,280,228 (Two Million Two Hundred and Eighty Thousand, Two Hundred and Twenty-Eight Naira) respectively.” The Court ruled.
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