N2.5bn debt: Court adjourns ABU, 110 staff members’ suit for further report of settlement

By Glory Abuh-Adejoh
The National Industrial Court on Monday adjourned until April 24 for further report of settlement between Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, and 110 of its dismissed employees.

.When the matter slated for further report of settlement before Justice Rakiya Haasteup came up, the claimants’ counsel, Mr Femi Adedeji informed the court that the judgment debtor on March 7 served another computation of his clients’ pension which did not reflect any significant difference from what he reported on during the last adjourned date.

Adedeji stated that the bone of contention was whether to compute his clients’ pension under the PITAD or under the new pension reform act of Pencom which came into existence after his clients were retired and that they have been receiving their pensions under PITAD.

He further argued if the judgment creditors pensions are moved under pencom and based on the computations made by ABU, most of his clients would be indebted to the institution, while some of them would be paid between N100,000 to N200,000 as their pensions.

”ABU wants to move the Judgment creditors from PITAD to pencom for the propose of invading gratuity.

“This is not withstanding the fact that the contributions were not made on the judgment creditors behalf”, the counsel submitted.

Mr Yusuf Abubakar, the judgment debtor’s counsel however submitted that efforts were being made to resolve the matter.

He added that after the submission of the latest computations on March 7, he urged Adedeji to go through it and revert discrepancies if any.

The court in its ruling directed that the counsel should go through the computations and further report of settlement in the next adjourned date should highlight the alleged discrepancies by Adedeji.

Adedeji also prayed the court to direct the institution from delaying the settlement proceedings.

Abubakar responded that the perceived delay was borne from the need for the university’s council to sit and give approval on the computations

Adedeji also informed the court of receiving some withdrawn and converted letters of dismissal and termination of his clients to retirement from ABU, while awaiting the rest and also the reinstatement letters of two people that have not attained retirement age.

The News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN), reports that the appointments of 110 ABU staff were terminated in 1996.

They approached the court in 2012, after failure of the institution to implement the recommendations of various visitation panels, which recommended that they be reinstated and all their entitlements paid.

NAN also reports that the court ruled in favour of the staff in 2015 and ordered the university to reinstate them and pay their entitlements, which amounted to N2.5 billion.

Non-compliance with the court judgment necessitated the garnishee order on the institution’s bank accounts in 2017.

However, when the garnishee proceeding was ongoing, the judgment debtors filed for a stay of proceeding as they had filed an appeal before Appeal Court in Nov.2018, contesting the 2015 judgment.

The Court of Appeal on its part on May 24,2021, dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decision of the lower court.

The NICN then on Jan. 27 through a ruling made an order absolute in a garnishee proceeding ordering the CBN to pay the disengaged staff (NAN)