Court dismisses Sir Ekpong, 56 others’ Severance Allowance claims against Cross River Government
The Presiding Judge, Calabar Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Sanusi Kado has dismissed the severance entitlement claim filed by Sir Brian Ekpong and 56 others against the Government of Cross River State for lack of proof.
The Court ruled that Sir Brian Ekpong and 56 others failed woefully to prove their case with cogent, credible relevant and admissible evidence
Justice Kado held that the refusal or neglect by Nja Abang and 10 others to establish the exact amount being paid to them as basic salary after tax deductions is fatal to their case.
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From facts, the Claimants- Sir Brian Ekpong and 56 others had submitted that they were former political office holders between 2007 and 2015, appointed by Governor Liyel Imoke (CON) former Governor of Cross River State, as Chairmen and members of Statutory Boards and Commissions in Cross River State and by the Cross River State Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders Remuneration package law 2007, they are entitled to severance allowance of 300% salary, furniture and remuneration.
They furthered that on the 29th May, 2015 the payment of their severance allowance in the sum of N155,259.36 (One Hundred and Fifty-Five Million, Two Hundred and Fifty-Nine Thousand, Six Hundred and Forty-Two Naira, Thirty-Six Kobo) only, became due, but the government have refused, failed and neglected to pay despite several demands.
In defense, the defendant- Cross Rivers State Government maintained that Sir Brian Ekpong and 56 others are not entitled to severance allowance because they have not been able to establish that they were former political office holders of the Defendant, urged the court to dismiss the claim.
In opposition, the claimants’ counsel argued that his clients have proved their case with cogent, credible and convincing evidence relevant to their case, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering judgment after careful evaluation of the submissions of both parties and the exhibits tendered, the presiding Judge, Justice Sanusi Kado held that for Sir Brian Ekpong and 56 others to be entitled to the furniture and severance allowances, they must show to the court that they are chairmen and members of constitutional or statutory commissions established by the state house of assembly.
The Court found that Barr. Agabi Oko and 12 others are not covered by the provisions of the Cross River State Political, Public and Judicial Officers Remuneration Law No. 12 of 2007, while the claims of only Nja Abang and 10 others are covered under the law, others could not establish employment relationship with the government due to their failure in tendering their letters of appointment.
Justice Kado held that the claims for severance allowance, being monetary in nature is a claim for special damages which must be specifically pleaded and particularized and also must be proved strictly with credible evidence and without such proof no special damages can be awarded.
Justice Kado held that Nja Abang and 10 others have not specifically and strictly proved their claim, as required by law, that it is not by mentioning quantum as did, that there must be particularization as to the amount involved as severance package or allowance, as the court is not allowed to make its own estimate.
“For claimants to succeed in their claims each of the claimants must prove to the satisfaction of the Court entitlement to the claim as the Court is not entitled to make its own estimate of same.” The Court ruled.