Industrial Court voids Bayelsa Salaries and Allowances Law, dismisses former aides remuneration claim

Alkali

The Presiding Judge, Yenagoa Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Bashar Alkali has dismissed former aides, Hon. Oyarede Ayeperebo and 8 others’ remuneration claim against Ekeremor Local Government Council and 2 others for lacking merit.

Justice Alkali ruled that the Bayelsa State Public and Political Office Holders (Local Government Council) Remuneration, Salaries and Allowances Law, 2000 and the Bayelsa State Public and Political Office Holders (Local Government Council) Remuneration, Salaries and Allowances (Amendment) Law, 2007 in which Hon. Oyarede Ayeperebo and 8 others predicated their claims are void legislations; and the Court cannot proceed to interpret a void legislation.




From facts, the claimants- Hon. Oyarede Ayeperebo and 8 others` had submitted that their salaries and remuneration are provided for and governed by the Bayelsa State Public and Political Office Holders (Local Government Councils) Remuneration, Salaries and Allowances Law, 2007 as Amended, and they served in their respective capacities as Political Secretary, Supervisors and Special advisers to the Ekeremor Local Government Council, until the expiration of their appointments in March, 2016, that they were entitled to be paid Severance gratuity allowance which is 300% of their annual basic salary.

In defence, the 1st Defendant- Ekeremor Local Government Council averred that Hon. Oyarede Ayeperebo and 8 others’ appointments were not done in accordance with the Bayelsa State Local Government Law, 2000 and were not entitled to 300% of the annual basic salary as they did not serve up to three years, and the severance allowance is payable from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.


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The 2nd and 3rd Defendants- The Honourable Attorney General of Bayelsa State and Government of Bayelsa State maintained that Hon. Oyarede Ayeperebo and 8 others do not fall into the category of persons whose remunerations, emoluments, benefits and/or entitlements are envisaged to be paid from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.

They argued that the suit discloses no reasonable cause of action against them, and the reliefs sought by Hon. Oyarede Ayeperebo and 8 others are baseless and untenable, and contended that the Principal Law, particularly Section 1 thereto is inconsistent with provisions of the Constitution and null and void to the extent of the inconsistency.

The Ekeremor Local Government Council filed an objection and prays the Court for an order to strike out the suit for want of competence and jurisdiction on the grounds that Hon. Oyarede Ayeperebo and 8 others have no authorization, common interest, or common grievance and the reliefs sought are not beneficial to all and that contract of employment is personal, and urged the court to dismiss the case.

In opposition, counsel to Hon. Oyarede Ayeperebo and 8 others argued that the suit was not instituted in a representative capacity, and urged the court to dismiss the objection and grant the reliefs sought.

Delivering judgment after careful analysis of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Bashar Alkali dismissed the objection filed by the Ekeremor Local Government Council for lacking merit.

However, the Court held that the Hon. Oyarede Ayeperebo and 8 others’ Amended Originating Summons is not competent to activate the interpretative power of the Court, as it contain questions for determination of law to interpret without stating the specific sections under which they sought reliefs.

Furthermore, Justice Alkali stated that the powers of the House of Assembly of a State to make law have limitations that those officers or public office holders who are constitutionally allowed to draw their remuneration, salaries and allowances from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State are the Governor, Deputy Governor, Auditor-General for a State and the Chairman and members of the State Civil Service Commission, the State Independent Electoral Commission and the State Judicial Service Commission not the former aides to the Local Govt. Chairmen.

Justice Alkali held that the Bayelsa State Public and Political Office Holders (Local Government Council) Remuneration, Salaries and Allowances Law, 2000 and the Bayelsa State Public and Political Office Holders (Local Government Council) Remuneration, Salaries and Allowances (Amendment) Law, 2007 that provides for drawing money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State to pay aides to the Political Office holders is inconsistent with provisions of the Constitution and null and void to the extent of the inconsistency.

The Court held that the Bayelsa State House of Assembly made the Public and Political Officer Holders in excess of its power and the said laws are liable to be declared null and void pursuant to Section 1(3) of the Constitution.

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