The Presiding Judge, Portharcourt Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Faustina Kola-Olalere has dismissed the gratuity claim filed by twelve former annulled councillors of Atakunmosa East Local Government Area for lacking in merit.
Furthermore, the Court held that Adeleke Funmilayo and Eleven others are not entitled to severance gratuity irrespective of the years they spent because their election was declared a nullity by the apex court.
From facts, the Claimants- Adeleke Funmilayo and Eleven others had averred that having served as Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Councilors in the Local Government between January 10, 2008 and December 17, 2010 that they are entitled to payment of 300% of their Annual Basic Salary.
On the other hand, the defendant- Atakunmosa East Local Government Area opined that Claimants are not entitled to the payments of severance gratuity in view of the judgment of the Court of Appeal and the judgment of the Supreme Court that nullified their election.
However, counsel to the defendant, Hassan Agbelekale Esq Ministry of Justice Osun filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection and further that claimants did not successfully completed their tenure and are not entitled to severance gratuities.
In reply, claimants’ Counsel Jola Akintola Esq submitted that claimants became entitled to the gratuities after spending more than 2 years out their 3 years tenure in office before they were sacked by the Supreme Court urged the Court to hold so.
Delivering judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Kola-Olalere affirmed the objection, and held that provision of section 105 of the Local Government Law Cap 72, Laws of Osun State is applicable to the case.
“Therefore, considering the stage of the proceedings that this ‘Objection’ was raised by the defendant, this Court is required to resolve the substantive disputes between the parties together with the Objection as Parties have properly traversed those issues before the objection was raised.
“However, from the evidence before the Court; the claimants did not complete their tenure successfully because the Supreme Court affirmed the nullification of their elections on December 17, 2010 and declared their election Law illegal. Notwithstanding that they had served their tenure for almost 3 years; they are still not entitled to this claim. This is because their election was declared a nullity.
“Therefore, I hold that the claimants cannot claim any severance gratuity in this case. The reason being that allowing the claimants to make this claim will amount to this Court aiding them to benefit from their illegal act after it has become aware that their said act (election) was illegal and it was nullified by the Apex Court in Nigeria; this Court will not do. Consequently, this case is dismissed for lacking in merit.”