BY DAUD OLATUNJI
LAGOS—Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, retirees have initiated contempt charges against three directors of the apex bank before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos for alleged disobedience to a court judgment.
The plaintiffs had sued CBN on May 6, 1999, praying the court to compel it to comply with the Federal Government’s policy directive on pension harmonisation.
The policy, introduced in the public service with effect from January 1, 1997, was designed to eliminate disparities in the pensions of workers who retired on the same grade/rank and who served the same number of years but retired at different times.
After CBN allegedly refused to comply with the judgment, the plaintiffs filed the suit in 1999.
They are Mr Jacob Amao (now deceased), Mr Joachim Ajala (deceased), Mr James Jemilo and Mr Thompson Edun. They sued for themselves and on behalf of all CBN pensioners.
In a judgment delivered on May 22, 2000, Justice Wilson Egbo-Egbo (now retired), granted the pensioners’ reliefs.
The judge directed CBN “to pay the applicants forthwith, all accrued pensions calculated with effect from 1st January, 1997, on emoluments currently earned by their serving counterparts as prescribed under the Federal Government policy on harmonisation of pensions aforesaid, and subsequently, all such pensions as and when they fall due.”
Dissatisfied, CBN appealed against the judgment but lost. The Court of Appeal (on December 5, 2006) and the Supreme Court (on May 21, 2010) affirmed the lower court’s judgment. The Supreme Court even awarded N50,000 cost against CBN.
Efforts by the pensioners to get the CBN to comply with the judgment failed, despite their lawyer, Mr Tani Molajo (SAN) writing the bank twice.
The pensioners have, therefore, filed both Form 48 (Notice of consequence of disobedience to order of court) and Form 49 (Notice to show cause why order of attachment/committal should not be made).
Named in the charge are Deputy Governor, Corporate Services Alhaji Suleiman Barau; Director, Human Resources Ms. Chizoba Mojekwu and Director, Legal Services, Mr Simon Onekutu.