All is not well between the Lagos state government and retired judges as some aggrieved judges have approached the National Industrial Court, Ikoyi, Lagos (NICN), to seek redress over non-payment of their retirement benefits.
The prayer of the aggrieved judges before the NICN is for the court to compel the Governor of Lagos state, BabajideSanwo-Olu, and Judicial Services Commission to pay their retirement benefits and other sundry benefits as the court deems fit.
The first judge who approached the court to seek redress was Justice Samuel Babajide Adebowale Candide-Johnson (rtd.) through a brief filed before Justice Maureen NkechinyereugoEsowe, from the law firm of Strachan Partners.
Filing their briefs alongside Justice Candide Johnson are duo of Justices Doris Okuwobi, Olaide Olayinka.
When the matter was called for hearing on 1 June, 2022, two other members of the class of 2021 retired judges, Justice Grace Modupe Onyeabo, and Justice Iyabo Kasali also filed their own suits through the same law firm, Strachan Partners before Justice Esowe.
The roll call of other judges who had filed their case through the same law firm and before the same judge is: Justices AdeniyiOnigbanjo, Marian Olajumoke Emeya, and Mufutau Olokooba
Judges who retired before 2021, and filed their suits before the courts are not limited to the aforementioned judges as Justices Olaide, and Justice Ojikutu-Oshode also filed suits challenging the computation of entitlements.
They also seek for declarations that their pension and gratuity were not computed in accordance with extant law, to wit: Section 291 (3) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended); and also that the arbitrary computation of the Claimant’s retirement benefits by the 3rd Defendant without recourse to extant law is unlawful
However, Lagos State government is making frantic efforts to settle the disputes out of Court. Lawyers to the state have already informed the court of the state’s willingness to settle the cases concerning the judges out of court.
Already, the government had made payment of part of the retirement benefits to seven retired judges in the class of 2022, excluding payment of their pension. The payment is based on an old template; pending completion of settlement details and agreements on the appropriate template to use for retired Judges Pension in accordance with section 291(3) of the 1999 constitution.
When the matters came up, all parties reported efforts being made to settle the suits out of court. Justice Esowe thereafter adjourned further proceedings till June 23, 2022 for a report of settlement.
Justice Candide-Johnson (rtd) in early 2022 filed a suit before a National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) in Lagos, demanding his pension, gratuity, and other entitlements from Lagos State government, a year after his retirement
Joined as defendants in the suit are the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Attorney General, Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN, Lagos State Judicial Service Commission, and the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Justice Candide-Johnson retired from the Lagos bench on June 27, 2021, having attained the mandatory retirement age of 65. He served the state as a judicial officer for 20 years, having been sworn in as a judge on May 24, 2001.
However, in the statement of facts filed before Justice Maureen Nkechinyereugo Esowe, the retired judge as the claimant stated that since his retirement on June 27, 2021, he is yet to receive neither his severance gratuity, nor any part of his pension and other retirement entitlements.