By Funke Busari
A Lagos High Court has ordered Lagos State Government to pay retirement benefits and pension to a former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Chief Mrs Sinatu Ojikutu.
Ojikutu had in her suit prayed the court for an order compelling the state governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, to pay her pension and other benefits as provided for under the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law No 11 Official Gazette of Lagos State, 2007.
The applicant was the Deputy Governor of Lagos State between January 1992 and November 1993 before she was forcefully overthrown from office as a result of a coup led by the late General Sani Abacha.
Justice Atilade in her judgment delivered on Friday granted all reliefs sought by the former Deputy Governor.
The applicant through her lawyer, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde SAN, also joined as respondents: the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye; as well as the state Ministry of Establishments, Training and Pensions.
Specifically, the applicant, in her originating summons brought pursuant to order 3 Rule 6 of High Court of Lagos state (Civil Procedure) Rules 2004 and sections 1-6 of the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pensions) Law 2007, No 11 official Gazette of Lagos State asked the court to declare that she is entitled to the payment of pension and other benefits as provided for under the Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law No 11 official Gazette of Lagos State, 2007 to wit:
She also requested for an annual basic salary equal to 100 percent of the annual salary of the incumbent Deputy-Governor of Lagos State subject to review every five years or salary review by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission in line with Section 210 (3) of the constitution as amended in 2011.
In her statement of claim, the former Deputy Governor stated that towards the end of the administration of the former Governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the state Assembly enacted a law stating among others that:
“Any person who held office as an elected Governor or Deputy Governor (referred to in this Law as Public office Holder) shall be entitled to the payment of pension at the rate equivalent to the annual basic salary of the incumbent Governor or Deputy Governor and other benefits as provided by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission’’.
“Any person duly elected as Public Office Holder shall upon the successful completion of his term be entitled to a grant of pension for life by the state; Provided that such a person shall not be entitled to a grant of pension under this law if he was removed from office by the process of impeachment or for breach of any provision of the constitution’’.
“The total emolument of the Public Office Holder shall include salary, allowances and fringe benefits as contained in the schedule to this Law;
In line with this law, the applicant prayed the court to declare that she was a Public Office Holder under the 1999 constitution as amended in 2011.
Besides, she asked the court to declare that as a serving Deputy Governor she was not removed by virtue of any constitutional breach or impeachment process by the state legislature.
She avers that after series of letters from herself, the 2nd respondents and the Lagos state Civil Service Commission to the 1st respondent and the 3rd respondent, the 3rd respondent has still insisted on the non-payment of the applicant’s retirement benefits.