The Presiding Judge, Calabar Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Sanusi Kado has ordered the Governor of Cross River State to immediately pay the former members of the Cross River State Judicial Service Commission, Barr. (Mrs.) Mary Adeyemi, Dr. Okpo Ekpenyoung and 1 other, the sum of N33,500,432.15 (Thirty-Three Million, Five Hundred Thousand and Four hundred and Thirty-Two Naira, Fifteen Kobo) being their total outstanding salary arrears, severance and furniture allowances from 18th August 2011 to 17th August 2016, and from 18th August 2011 to 26th October 2015 in the case of Dr. Okpo Ojah now deceased.
From facts, the claimants- Barr. (Mrs.) Mary Adeyemi and 2 others had submitted that 15 months to the end of their tenure, the Governor of Cross River State upon assumption of office on 29/5/2015, purportedly dissolved the State Judicial Service Commission, thereby terminating their appointments as members of the Commission.
They averred that the purported terminations of their appointments were in gross and brazen breach or violation of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the judicial service commission law of Cross River State, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
In defense, the defendants- the Governor of Cross River State and Others maintained that they did not at any time or date dissolved or terminated the appointments of Barr. Mary Adeyemi and 2 others as they all served out their full terms except for the deceased Dr. Okpo Ojah who died before the end of his tenure. The Govt. also averred that they have paid Barr. Mary Adeyemi and 2 others all their due entitlements and were not indebted to them in any way whatsoever, and urged the court to dismiss the case for being speculative.
In opposition, the learned counsel to Barr. Mary Adeyemi and 2 others insisted that his clients did not serve out the full term of their appointments as falsely claimed by the State Government, and the averment that they have been paid their entitlements is unfounded and a blatant lie meant to mislead the court.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Sanusi Kado held that there is no evidence adduced by the Governor of Cross River State and Others to prove that they actually paid Mary Adeyemi and 2 others their salaries and allowances as claimed, and the State Government, State Judicial Service Commission and other have failed woefully to discharge the burden of proof imposed on them by law to show the salary they paid to the Barr. Mary Adeyemi and 2 others for the period of the claim.
“In view of the failure of the defendants to prove that they paid claimants their salaries and allowances for the period of the claim, I have no choice but to come to the conclusion that the claimants were never paid for the period of the claim. In the circumstances of this case, the claimants are entitled to succeed on their claim.” Justice Kado ruled.
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