The Hon. Justice Ibrahim Galadima sitting in Owerri Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has ordered Obingwa Local Government Council to pay Hon. Onukafor Okechukwu, HON. Anaba Ifeanyi, Hon. Iheukwumere Victor, Hon. Otete Ngozi and Hon. Uhegwu Chika the sum of N44,306,000.00 (Forty-Four Million Three Hundred and Six Thousand Naira) as their unpaid entitlements, allowances and out-of-pocket expenses (O.P.E) owed to them as past elected councillors in the council between 2016 – 2018 within 30 days.
From facts, the claimants- Hon. Onukafor Okechukwu and 4 others had submitted that they were formally elected councillors in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State of Nigeria between 2016 to 2018 and were entitled to be paid severance/gratuity, furniture, transport and recess/leave and circle/allowances during their tenures or upon leaving their respective offices.
The former councillors averred that all these allowances were never paid to them in spite of their numerous entreaties and demands on the council.
In defense, the defendant- Obingwa Local Government Council denies that it authorized the computation of any severance, transport, and furniture allowances for each of the ex-councillors amounting to the total sum of N44,306,000.00 and the purported payment vouchers presented to this court were not signed by any of its principal officers, urged the court to dismiss the case.
In opposition, the counsel to Hon. Onukafor Okechukwu and 4 others maintained that the failure of Obingwa Local Government Council to controvert the facts pleaded by his clients has given rise to the presumption that the facts are unchallenged and so deemed admitted, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering judgment after careful evaluation of the submissions of both parties, the presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Galadima held that the evidence adduced by Hon. Onukafor Okechukwu and 4 others remain unassailable, positive and cogent, and so satisfied that their claims should succeed.
“The defendant shall pay to these 5 claimants, the total sum of N44,306,000.00 (Forty-Four Million Three Hundred and Six Thousand Naira) being their unpaid entitlements, allowances and out-of-pocket expenses (O.P.E) owed to them as past elected councillors in Obingwa Local Government Council between 2016 – 2018 within 30 days from the date of this judgment, which shall in default, attract 10% interest per annum until fully liquidated.” The Court ruled.
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