Unpaid Teachers: Rivers Appeals Industrial Court’s Judgement

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Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

The Rivers State Government yesterday approached an Appeal Court sitting in Port Harcourt, seeking to appeal the judgement of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in favour of some teachers of the state owed Demonstration Schools over unpaid salaries.

When the case was mentioned, counsel for the state government, P. Enebeli sought the leave of the court to appeal the judgement.

The three-man panel led by T. Y Hassan granted the motion after counsel for the unpaid teachers said he did not oppose the application.

The three-man panel, however, gave the parties 14 days to file their processes and responses but did not give adjournment date.

Counsel for the unpaid teachers, Mark Barango, who spoke to journalists outside the courtroom, explained: “We are here in court today because the state government filed a motion seeking the leaf of court to appeal against the judgment of the national industrial court.

“We didn’t oppose because it is their right to file an appeal to whatever judgement against them. And formerly, court has granted them leaf to file an appeal and so no appeal yet until they file their appeal and all the preliminaries are done before we will formerly appear before the court.

“A returned date was not given to us because they are not formerly before the court.

‘My clients made a number of claims. We are claiming that the sack of the teachers is illegal and that there stoppage of payment are equally illegal.

“At the national industrial court, the workers got judgement against the Governor and the state government and that is why the state government has come to the court to appeal against the judgement.”

The National Industrial Court had on June 13, 2018, delivered the judgement in the favour of the unpaid teachers, stating that “the governor’s directive stopping the payment of teachers salaries is unlawful, null and void”.

The state government appealed the judgement and was struck out on October 31, 2020 by Justice Ita G. Mbaba led court of Appeal in Owerri over lack of merit.