Sacked councillors give Lalong 30 days ultimatum to pay N1.57bn entitlements

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Sacked councillors in Plateau have given Gov. Simon Lalong 30 days ultimatum to pay their N1.57 billion accrued salaries and allowances or face another court action.

The councilors, through their counsel, Mr Gyang Zi, gave the ultimatum in a letter dated Aug. 14, 2017.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lalong had on July 15, 2015, sacked the councillors and replaced them with interim management committees, even though they had nine months to complete their two-year tenure.

Miffed by the action, the councillors in 15 out of the 17 LGAs dragged the government before Justice David Mann of the Plateau High Court in Jos, who gave judgment in their favour on Aug. 4.

In the ruling, Mann faulted the removal of the elected councillors when their two-year tenure had not expired, and declared that their removal was “null and void and of no effect.’’

He held that their sack violated section 7 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, section 23 of the state Local Government Council Law and sections 1 and 2 of the Plateau Local Government Council amended Law of 2007.

Their counsel told NAN that the nine months accumulated salaries and allowances of the sacked officials stood at N1.57 billion.

Counsel to the government, Mr Garba Pwul (SAN), however, dismissed the claim, saying the court judgment had not made any declaration about payment.

Zi, however, stated in the letter, that the councillors have the right to demand for their salaries and allowances which accrued during the remaining nine months of their truncated two year tenure.

“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.

“It also declared the provision of section 41 (4) of the Plateau Local Government Law as 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, except 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 invoke the full instrumentality of the law,’’ the lawyer stated in the letter.

According to him, the demand notice has been served as a pre-action notice to the state government and the local councils.

When contacted, Mr Jonathan Mawiyau, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, told NAN that the government had received 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 councillors 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 pledged. (NAN)