An Industrial High court in Owerri, Imo State has declared illegal, the 60% reduction of pension payment due to Imo State Pensioners by the Imo State Government.
According to reports, the Presiding Judge, Olufunke Anuwe gave the order Wednesday while delivering judgment in suit no. NICN/OW/144/2017 filed before her by the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) Imo state chapter against the Imo state governor and three others.
The court ruled that the 40% payment to Pensioners in Imo State was illegal and unconstitutional and issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the government and her agents of further slashing of pensions due the state pensioners.
- The Imo State Government owed pensioners about 22 months pension arrears and brought a plan in late 2016 to make the pensioners forfeit 10 months of the arrears, leaving the government with only 12 months to pay.
- Pensioners who had been starved of payments for months accepted the offer in exchange for getting some of their payments.
- Unbeknownst to pensioners the government had surreptitiously hacked out a plan to further reduce the 12 months payment by paying just 40% of the arrears.
- The Nigeria Union of Pensioners, NUP, in the state quickly sent in a rejection of the offer via a letter to the governor.
- Sometime in May 2017, the state government came with a revised plan, offering to slash 50% of the pension arrears which the union promptly rejected.
- The Union subsequently took the State Government to court on February 24, 2017 seeking judgement against the reduction in pension payment
Why this matters
- This ruling makes illegal the indiscriminate reduction in pension arrears by state government facing revenue challenges.
- It also confirms that despite signing a form to forfeit pension arrears under duress, the court by merit still views the action of the government as illegal and renders any such signing as illegal and null and void.