A National Industrial Court of Nigeria in Owerri, Imo on Tuesday adjourned to April 28,2017, a litigation Instituted by the Nigerian Union of pensions in the state, against governor Rochas Okorocha, the Account general, Attorney general and the head of service of the state.
The pensioners are challenging the state government’s policy wherein they were asked to forfeit 60 percent of their pension arrears and gratuities by signing a form prepared by the government.
The matter which was ought to be heard for the first time suffered a minor setback when Osita Chukwuemeka, senior state Counsel, who appeared on behalf of the defendants told the court that he was served very late.
The defendants Counsel prayed the court to grant him and his clients more time to enable them prepare for the matter , intimating that the court processes were only served on him on April 23.
But the lead counsel for the Owerri Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, Wisdom Durueke, who appeared for the retirees told the court that contrary to the claim of the defendants counsel, the processes were served on him on March 15.
NBA is handing the matter for the pensioners on pro bono basis.
Durueke urged the court to proceed to hear the matter considering how urgent the demands of the senior citizens were.
The Presiding Judge, A. Y Anuwe, ruled that the matter be adjourned to April 28, 2017, to enable all the parties to be served properly.
The decision of the judge seemed not to had pleased the over one thousand pensioners who throng the court premises,murmuring as the small number who went into the courtroom made their way out.
The Chairman of NBA, Owerri branch, Lawrence Nwakaeti, told journalists that no amount of strategy by the defendants would stop his Association from assisting the embittered pensioners to make sure that the government obeys the rules of law as it concerned senior citizens.
Nwakeati, said that the NBA were gracious to the Presiding Judge for granting a date that is very close, so that the litigation would be heard speedily.
The Chairman of the pensioners, Gideon Ezeji, pensioners who addressed hundreds of his colleagues in the court premises after the adjournment assured them that justice would be done.
Ezeji said “we will continue until this intimidation, illegality and lawlessness by the state is defeated. We will never be forced to forfeit 60 percent of our pensioners and gratuities. We thank the NBA for coming to our aid in a bid to say no to this executive recklessness “.