Court reprimands Okorocha over 60 percent slash of pensions

www.odogwublog.com reports that after accusations and counter-accusations, the National Industrial Court  has ordered a perpetual injunction restraining the Imo State Government and her agents from further slashing of pensions due the state pensioners.
Justice Olufunke Anuwe of the Owerri division today
gave the order in a judgment she delivered in suit number NICN/OW/144/2017 filed before her by the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) against the Imo state Governor and three others in Owerri.
While delivering the judgment after a review of the claims and counter-claims and affidavits filed by parties, Justice Anuwe held that the claimants have both the right to sue as well as interest in seeking for 100 percent payment to Pensioners by the State Government.
The court however frowned at what it described as the failure of the defense counsel in their duties to the defendants, saying "it is unfortunate that the Defense Counsel rather than defend the actions of the defendants resorted to deny their action".
"From the Whitepaper newspaper publication tendered, it is very clear to the court that the form issued to Imo Pensioners to sign off 60 percent of their pensions, while collecting only 40 percent of the pension came from the Imo State government. The defence counsel did not counter this evidence rather they only claimed that the defendants did not issue any form to pensioners", Justice Anuwe held.

The court maintained that the Imo State government did not have the right to alter pension due Imo pensioners, saying "pension matters as contained in section 201 of  1999 Nigeria Constitution is a constitutional matter and cannot be altered by a state government".

While granting the order of perpetual injunction restraining Imo State government from further tampering with pension and gratuities due NUP members, Justice Anuwe stated that it is until the relevant sections of the constitution are amended before any action to tamper with pensions is legal.
Counsel to the Imo NUP, Barr. Wisdom Durueke, who led other lawyers thanked the court for what he described as a sound judgment.

The Owerri branch chairman of Nigeria Bar Association, Barr. Lawrence Nwakenti, said his branch handled the suit free of charge because of clear injustice against the senior citizens.

On his part, the state chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. Austin Chilakpu, and the state NUP chairman, Chief Gideon Ezeji described the judgment as victory for not only Imo NUP, but that of pensioners across the country.

Chilapku said Imo pensioners should see the judgment as "no victor, no vanquished situation", and appealed to the state government to abide by the judgment in the interest of labour/government cordiality.

Hundreds of pensioners who stormed the court located at Owerri High Court premises venue of the National Industrial Court were in celebration mood when the judgment was given in their favour.

Imo NUP had dragged the State Government to court following a slash of the pensions and sought for a declaration that the State Government acted unconstitutionally when it slashed the accrued sum due them in the public service of Imo State by sixty percent.

They had also requested the court to set aside the letter/form prepared by the Imo State government under Governor Okorocha, addressed to the Accountant-General and entitled ``Letter of Set off in Respect of my Outstanding Pension Arrears’’ among other prayers.
Court reprimands Okorocha over 60 percent slash of pensions Court reprimands Okorocha over 60 percent slash of pensions Reviewed by Odogwu Emeka Odogwu on Wednesday, July 05, 2017 Rating: 5

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