Drama has continued despite a recent court judgment in favour of sacked Councillors in Plateau State; as they have given Governor Simon Lalong 30 days within which to pay their N1.57 billion accrued salaries and allowances or face another court action.
The councilors, who made the demand through their counsel, Mr Gyang Zi in a demand notice dated Aug. 14, 2017, threatened to again sue the Governor should he fail to pay the said amount to them within the given 30 days period.
It would be recalled that Governor Simon Lalong had, on July 15th, 2015, sacked elected officials in the 17 Local Government Areas of the State and replaced them with interim management committees.
The officials had nine months left to serve out their two-year tenure when they were sacked.
Miffed by the action, the Councillors dragged the government before Justice David Mann of Jos High Court III, who ruled in their favour on August 4th, 2017.
In the ruling, Mann faulted the removal of the elected councillors when their two-year tenure was remaining nine months and described it “null and void and of no effect.’’
He declared that their sack violated section of 7 of the Nigerian Constitution as amended and section 23 of the Local Government Council Law and Provisions of Sections 1 and 2 of the Plateau amended Local Government Council Law of 2007.
An elated Zi had told journalists that the sacked officials, by the favourable ruling, were entitled to be paid N1.57 billion being monies accrued to them in the nine months they were thrown out.
But the Plateau Government, through its Counsel, Mr Garba Pwul (SAN), had debunked the councilors’ claim asserting that by the court Judgment they (Councillors) were not entitled to even a kobo from the state government.
However, the Counsel to the plaintiffs insisted in the letter of demand notice that the Councilors have the right to demand for their salaries and allowances accrued to them during the remaining nine months of their truncated two year tenure.
The lawyer told Governor Lalong that, “The Court declared your action in dissolving the office of our clients as null and void and of no effect and also granted the reliefs striking down the provision of section 41 (4) of Plateau Local Government Law for being inconsistent with section 7 of Constitution of Nigeria as amended”.
“As a result of the Judgment of the Court, which nullified your action, and in the eyes of the Law, our client have successfully performed the functions of their offices and have finished their tenure on March 15, 2016 accept that they have not been paid their accrued N1.57 billion entitlements for a period of nine months.
“We hereby humbly demand that you immediately act forthwith and pay our clients their entitlements of N1, 571, 266, 149.58 within 30 days of the receipt of the letter and where you fail to act accordingly, we shall be left with no option than invoked the full instrumentality of the law, ’’ the letter warned.
Zi further warned, ”the instrumentality of the undefended list or any other process of law will be explored to recover the said amount (N1.57bn) against the Government and the 15 Local Government Councils involved.’’
According to him, the demand notice ”served as a pre-action notice to the state government and the LGAs.’’
However, when contacted, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the State, Jonathan Mawiyau, said the government was in receipt of the demand notice and was studying it for appropriate action.
“We are very much in receipt of the letter of demand notice from the Counsel to the sacked councilors and we are studying it to see what action to take on it.
“This government will look at the Court Judgment and the demand notice and then act appropriately as soon as possible, ’’ Mawiyau assured.