Akure – His Lordship, Hon. Justice A. A. Adewemimo of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, sitting in Akure, on Monday 3rd December 2018 in a judgment declared that HON. OMOLEGBON ODUSOLA (claimant) is not a public officer/political officer holder as contemplated by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation & Fiscal Act and therefore not entitled to gratuity and other allowances for political office holders, ordered Ondo State Government to pay N1,637,984.39K, being total sum of his 7 months’ salary arrears for the months of August 2016 to February2017.
The claimant claimed against the defendants jointly and severally among others; A Declaration that the claimant being a Political aide to the executive Governor of Ondo State in the Ondo State Government between 27th December, 2013 to 26th February, 2017 is entitled to be paid Salaries, Furniture Allowances, Severance Gratuity and other prerequisite of office due and accruable to his position as Special Assistant to the Executive Governor of Ondo State on Social Media and Communication.
A Declaration that the refusal or failure of the defendants to pay to the claimant his due outstanding seven (7) months salaries, full furniture allowances, Severance Gratuity as a Political aide to the executive Governor of Ondo State in the Ondo State Government on or before or immediately after leaving office on 26th February, 2017 is wrongful, unlawful and constitutes violation of claimant’s right to his entitlements as recommended by Executive Governor of Ondo State in line with Revenue Mobilization Allocation & Fiscal Commission recommended entitlements for public and political office holders in Nigeria.
The Claimant was employed as Personal Assistant to the Governor of Ondo State, on Social Media and Communication on 27th December 2013. Claimant averred that by virtue of his appointment he was a public office holder in the Ondo State Government until the termination of his appointment, and therefore entitled to be paid salaries, allowances and other prerequisites of office, which includes gratuity or benefit due and accruable to his office or position as a Personal Assistant to the 2nd Defendant.
He alleged that the defendants failed or refused to pay the salaries due and accruable to him for August 2016 to February 2017 (a period of 7 months) when his appointment was terminated, and also that his Wardrobe/Furniture allowances and pension/ severance gratuity were also not paid as recommended by Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Committee Act.
It is the Defendants’ case that the Claimant was never a public or/and a political office holder with the ONDO STATE GOVERNMENT but a political aide to the immediate past Governor of Ondo State whose remuneration was provided by his principal.
The defendants averred that the claimant was not one of the public or political office holders contemplated by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act, and stated that the Claimant’s remuneration, as provided, had been paid in full up to July 2016 while civil servants, public and political office holder and other categories of workers are owed salaries for the same period the Claimant is claiming, due to paucity of funds in the State.
Defendants averred that the suit is frivolous, misconceived and an attempt to embarrass the Defendants and as such should be dismissed with substantial costs.
After careful analysis of all the processes filed, and the submissions of the learned Counsel from both sides. The Court presided by Hon. Justice A. A. Adewemimo expressed thus;
“...the law is that a contract of service is the bedrock upon which an aggrieved employee must found his case, he succeeds or fails upon the terms thereof.
“In the instant suit, the Claimants employment has already been terminated and he is entitled to be paid his salaries. The other workers referred to are still in the employment of the State. The claimants’ salaries are his accrued entitlements which he worked for and ought to be paid, even more now that he is no longer in the employment of the defendants.
“It is in the light of the above, that I find that the claim for severance, pensions and allowances as contained in the Claimant’s Amended Statement of Facts were premised on promises delivered ex-gratia by the former Governor of Ondo State, and is not tenable under the CFRN 1999, RMFAC Act, the claimant’s contract of employment or any other law.”
The court further declared that claimant is not a public officer/political officer holder as contemplated by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation & Fiscal Act and is therefore not entitled to gratuity and other allowances for political office holders envisaged under the Act.
His Lordship ordered the defendant to pay to the Claimant a sum of N1,637,984.39K, being the total sum of his 7 months’ salary arrears for the months of August 2016 to February 2017.