BY OLA AJAYI
IBADAN- AN Oyo State High Court, has ordered Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, to effect immediate payment of the entitlements of 11 retired judges who challenged his refusal to pay them.
The court reasoned that the defendant, the state government, erred by withholding the severance gratuities of the applicants. The retired judges and the Oyo State Government had been dragging the issue of payment for about five weeks now.
The retired jurists including three former Chief Judges, two acting Chief Judges and others-Nurudeen Adekola, Olayiwola Adio, Ruth Oyetunde, Afolabi Adeniran, Olagoke Ige, Karimu Jimoh, Lambe Arasi, Akin Sanda, Atilade Ojo, Simon Akintola and Theophilus Adeniran, had approached the court to determine, among other reliefs, whether the governor was right to refuse to pay them their entitlements.
They also prayed the court to determine that they are entitled to be paid the gratuity based on 300% of the annual basic salary of each of them while in service.
Other reliefs that the judges sought were whether the gratuities should be paid with interest from the date of their respective completion of service till the date ojudgment or not; whether the government had not erred by not paying them their legitimate entitlements; whether the deprivation did not entitle them to compensation on the withheld money and whether they were entitled to be paid the said entitlements.
The Oyo State Government was represented by Mr. Abdulahi Olawale, Principal Legal Officer, Ministry of Justice, while Mr. Lasun Sanusi, SAN, held the brief for the retired judges.
While delivering judgment yesterday, Justice Muktar Ladi Abimbola granted all the four reliefs sought by the judges and that the government was wrong to have refused to pay them their severance entitlements.
The preliminary objections raised by counsel to the state government that government should excuse itself from paying the retired judges and pass the buck to the National Judicial Council, NJC, were discountenanced by the court.
He also argued that the matter should not be heard by the court because it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain it.