Nasarawa State Retirees at the courtroom in Makurdi, Benue State. Photo: Chris Nyamtu/Radio Nigeria
The Industrial Court sitting in Markudi, Benue State has ordered three commercial banks to immediately disburse over N1bn in the accounts of Nasarawa State Government to170 Pensioners as their retirement gratuity.
The trial judge, Justice Isaac Essien gave the order in his final decision on a creditors’ judgement case brought before the court against the State by a group of retirees in Benue State.
The court also awarded a cost of N4 million against the state government.
The retirees under the aegis of Patriotic Local Government Pensioners Union, Nasarawa State had approached the Industrial Court in Benue State, seeking enforcement of a creditors judgement case for the payment of their retirement benefits.
Justice Essien dismissed two motions filed by the state government to dismiss the case to recuse himself from the case.
The judge held that the three banks joined in the suit, did not prove to the court why the garnishee order should not be enforced.
He therefore ordered the banks to pay the over N1bn belonging to Nasarawa State Government directly into the bank account of counsel to the retirees for disbursement to their various accounts without delay.
The judge also held that the Nasarawa Government had violated the constitutional rights of the retirees for failure to pay their entitlements.
Addressing journalists, Counsel to the pensioners, Mr Sunday Okpale said justice had finally prevailed for his clients, while Counsel to Nasarawa State Government, Mr Egye Aliyu argued that his clients would take further action on the judgement.
Some of the retirees who were mostly senior citizens, broke into tears in the courtroom immediately after the judgment.
Chairman of the Patriotic Local Government Pensioners Union, Nasarawa State Mr Emmanuel Amirkpa noted that the decision of the court was a clear display of giving hope to the common man and maintained that they were committed to pursuing their legitimate rights in spite of the hardship they were subjected to having served the state faithfully.
Reporting by Chris Nyamtu; Editing by Annabel Nwachukwu