Owerri—The Presiding Judge, Owerri Judicial division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Galadima has dismissed the preliminary objection filed by Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Ministry of Local Govt and Chieftaincy Matters, Abia State challenging the court jurisdiction to hear matter brought by 4 former Abia Councilors and former Deputy Chairman Aba South Local Government seeking a court order on purported entitlements and allowances.
The court held that the provision of Section 18 of the Limitation Law of Abia State has no application to entitlement claims between the parties that the matter is not statute-barred, ordered for immediate trial.
The claimants filed an amended writ of complaint dated the 3/06/2019, claiming jointly and severally against the Defendants for the sum of N33, 389, 148 (Thirty three Million, Three hundred and Eighty-Nine Thousand, One Hundred and Forty Eight Naira) Only being unpaid entitlements/allowances owed the Claimants as elected councilors in Aba South Local Government Council between 2008 – 2010 which the Defendants allegedly refused to pay despite repeated demand made to them.
The defendants on the 20/5/2019 filed a motion on notice pursuant to Section 18 of the Limitation Law, CAP 114, Laws of Abia State sought for an order to dismiss the suit on the ground that the alleged cause of action is more than five years as required by Section 18 of the Limitation Law of Abia State.
Argued that since the Complaint is centered on contract and debts allegedly owed the Claimants, and since the cause of action arose between 2008-2010 exceeded five years from the time the cause of action arose, they are barred from instituting the matter.
In opposition, the claimants maintained that the suit is properly constituted, and therefore not statute-barred or caught by Limitation Law of Abia State that they served in Aba South Local Government and are entitled to their statutory entitlements and Allowances.
Delivering the ruling, the presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Galadima held that matters in respect to Labour or incidental to Labour, work done or due wages of Employees cannot be vitiated by Statutes of Limitation.
“Ordinarily I would agree with the 2nd and 3rd Defendants/Applicants that the matter is time barred by virtue of Section 18 of the Limitation Law of Abia State if and only if the action were one for a contract, tort or debt owed simpliciter.” Justice Galadima Ruled.
In all, the court dismissed the preliminary objection and ordered that the matter proceed to hearing immediately.