The National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Calabar Division has today 29/3/2021 delivered judgement in favour of the claimants in Suit No. NICN/CA/46/2019.
The claimants in the suit are serving Magistrates in the Cross River State Judiciary and had filed the suit on 5/12/2019 to challenge the whimsical and unceremonious removal of their names from government payroll. The claimants were later restored unto the payroll in October 2020 but without corresponding payment of accrued arrears.
In the judgement which was read electronically via zoom app by His Lordship, M. N. Esowe the Court granted almost all the reliefs sought by the claimants including the payment of salary arrears from December 2016 – May 2017 and September 2019 – September 2020 (i.e. a total of 19 months unpaid salary arrears).
The Court further deprecated the action of the state governor in removing/de-activating the names of civil servants including the claimants from payroll. It stated that an employment with statutory flavour is not based on the wishful thinking of a governor, and that the decision of the governor to delist, de-activate or remove the names of the claimants from payroll before a so called scheduled verification exercise amounted to putting the cart before the horse and therefore tantamount to executive rascality.
The Court also condemned the action of the defendants in making unauthorised deductions from the claimants’ salaries under the guise of purchasing laptops to improve and enhance efficiency of the claimants. Accordingly, the Court ordered the claimants to refund all deductions already made as well as granted a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their servants or privies from making further deductions from the claimants’ salaries under the guise of purchasing computers or any other deduction without the consent or authorisation of the claimants.
The Court however declined to award general and exemplary damages as sought by the claimants as well as 20% post judgement interest but instead ordered the defendants to comply with the judgement within 60 days.
James Ibor Esq who is co-counsel to the claimants congratulated his clients and stated that the judgement is a victory well deserved.
The defendants in the suit included the Governor of Cross River State, Government of Cross River State and the Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Cross River State. Others are the Cross River State Civil Service Commission, and the Cross River State Judicial Service Commission.