The National Industrial Court has ordered the Benue Government to pay two of its retirees the sum of N26.3 million, being their gratuity and pension arrears.
Delivering judgment, Justice Isaac Essien, declared that withholding of the retirees, Mr Cletus Iorember and Mrs Donna Akya’s pensions and gratuities by the defendants was unconstitutional and unlawful.
Joined in the suit as co-defendants are Attorney -General and Commissioner for Justice of the State and the State Pension Commission
The money as ordered by the court to be paid to the claimants is the sum of N12.2 million and N14.1 million respectively, being the balance of their unpaid gratuity and pension arrears.
The court in addition directed that N1 million each be paid to the retirees by Feb. 28 and the subsequent payment shall be in instalments of N500,000 monthly until the liquidation of the judgment debt.
From facts, the first claimant, Iorember averred that since his retirement on June 6, 2014, the first defendant held his pension for 89 months.
He further stated that he was later paid 56 months and the remaining 33 months were left unpaid totalling N5.8 million in addition to the annual yearly unpaid gratuity respectively.
By the computation, the first claimant was entitled to the sum of N6.9 million as gratuity and N2.1 million as annual pension.
The second claimant submitted that from March , 2013 when her pension became due, to Oct. 2021 wad106 months.
She also opined since her retirement her pension had been paid for 73 out of 106 months, remaining 33 months
She added that when her monthly pension of N185,734 was multiplied by 33 months of outstanding arrears of pension, the defendant was indebted to her in the sum of N6.1 million.
It was also her contention that when the pension arrears above was added to the unpaid gratuity of N8.1 million, that the defendants were indebted to her in the sum of N14.2 million
Therefore the court averred that second claimant was entitled to N8.1 million as gratuity and N2.2 million as a yearly pension.
The claimants had therefore sought a declaration that the withholding of their pensions and gratuities by the defendants was unconstitutional and unlawful.
They also prayed for an order of the court directing the defendants forthwith to pay them the sum of N 26.5 million being the arrears of their gratuity and pension.
In defence, the defendants urged the court to dismiss the claim for lack of proof.
The judge also held that by the combined provisions of Benue State Pension Reform Law, 2019, the claimants had the right to be paid gratuity and to receive a pension upon retirement from service.
The court, however, declines to grant the relief for the claim for 20 per cent damages on the judgment sum for lacking merit.
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