Lai Mohammed Dragged to Court over Non-payment of Retirement Benefits

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By Alex Enumah

A former presidential award winner, Malam Yushau Shuaib, has approached the National Industrial Court in Abuja for an order compelling the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to immediately pay him his retirement benefits as ordered by the court in its November 22, 2017, judgment.

Shuaib also urged the court to hold that refusal of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture under Mohammed to pay his retirement benefits since 2017 in line with the court judgment amounts to contempt of court which is punishable with imprisonment.

Shuaib, in a motion on notice filed on his behalf by his lawyer, Mr. James Abah, applied for an order of the court for the enforcement of the judgment delivered on November 22, 2017, against the Federal Civil Service Commission and the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.

Specifically, Shuaib, who is the publisher of PRNigeria Limited, an online news medium, prayed the court to order the two respondents to immediately compute salaries, allowances and other emoluments due to him from July 2013 when he was ‘unlawfully’ sacked as the Chief Information Officer in the Federal Ministry of Information, and November 22, 2017, when court ordered his reinstatement.

The applicant also requested the court to compel the two respondents to present before the court the total sum as computed in respect of the judgment which ordered payment of his salaries from the period he was unjustly sacked to the period he was lawfully reinstated.

The motion on notice brought pursuant to Sections 254 and 287 of the 1999 Constitution as well as Section 10 of the National Industrial Court Act, 2006, was predicated on eight grounds among which was that the court has power to enforce its own judgment and commit to prison any person whose action constitutes contempt of court.

In a 19-paragraph affidavit, the applicant claimed that he was unlawfully sacked by the respondent in 2013 and got a court judgment on November 22, 2017, which voided and set aside his purported sack on grounds that it violated labour laws, having not followed due process of law.

He averred that Justice David Isele in the landmark judgment ordered his reinstatement and payment of his salaries and entitlements within one month of the delivery of the court verdict.

The applicant claimed that the Federal Civil Service Commission, being the first respondents in the court action, complied with the court order by reinstating him to his duty post on September 3, 2018.

Shuaib further claimed that after his brief resumption of work, he voluntarily retired from service on July 1, 2019, and notified appropriate authorities as required by law and labour practice.

However, since his retirement, the applicant claimed that he had written five different letters through his counsel on December 4, 2017; December 14, 2017; January 9, 2018; December 19, 2019 and June 16, 2020, requesting the respondents to pay his salaries and entitlements as ordered by the court but have not been honoured.

Meanwhile, no date has yet been fixed for hearing of the motion.