Controversy over the inequality of the Pension received by retired staff of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been laid to rest as the National Industrial Court, Lagos Division has Ordered immediate payment of harmonized pensions to the affected retirees of the NNPC.
In a landmark judgment delivered by Justice Elizabeth Oji, PhD on Monday, the Court Ordered the two Defendants, NNPC and NNPC Pension Fund Limited to pay the harmonize pension to the Claimants from January 1st 1997 to date in accordance with the Provision of Section 173 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended).
In suit No. NICN/LA/329/2019 filed by Dr. Ikechukwu Nwobodo and 13 others suing for themselves, and on behalf of other Concerned retired pensioners of the NNPC, through their Counsel, Adeleke Agbola, Esq, the aggrieved NNPC retirees among other reliefs, sought an Order of mandamus to compel the Defendants to pay to the Claimants forthwith all accrued pensions calculated with effect from 1st January 1997 on emoluments currently earned by their serving counterparts as prescribed under the Federal Government Policy on Harmonization of Pensions.
The Trial Judge in his analysis of the cases as presented by parties agreed with the submissions of Agbola, who contended that by the construction of Section 173 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, Clause 43 of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation’s Corporate Policy & Procedure Guide (CPPG), Federal Government’s Circular No. SWC/S/04/S.8/25 dated 11th May, 1999; The Presidency Circular No. SWC/04/VOL. IV1011 dated 17th May, 1999; Office of the Head of Service Circular No. B.63216/S.I/X/I dated 19th July 1999; The Presidency Circular No. SWC/04/VOL. IV/1011 dated 17th May 1999; The Presidency Circular No. PEN.64615/S.I/25 dated 2nd October 1998; the Presidency Circular No. SWC/04/VOL. IV/1011 dated 17th may, 2010; the Presidency Circular No. B.63216/S.I/X/840 dated 5th October 2000 and Letter from the Head of Civil Service of the Federation No. PEN.64615/S.II/36 dated 11th December, 2000; the Claimants are entitled under the Federal Government Policy on Harmonization of Pensions to payment of such pensions as are based with effect from 1st January, 1997 on emoluments currently by their serving counterparts.
Other reliefs sought by the Claimants, which the Court granted include:
A Declaration that the Defendants’ decision to pay the Claimants pension on the basis of “affordability and sustainability” or ex gratias is ultra vires, null and void.
An Order directing the Defendants to pay to the Claimants all accrued pensions calculated with effect from 1st of January, 1997 on emoluments currently earned by their serving counterparts as prescribed under the Federal Government Policy on Harmonization of Pensions aforesaid and subsequently all such pensions as and when they fall due.
An Order directing the Defendants to comply fully with the provisions of Sections 39 of the Pension Reform Act, Cap. P4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and to fully fund the pension scheme in accordance with the directives of National Pension Commission as contained in its letter reference PENCOM/INSP/CT/NNPC/186/11/13 of 21st December, 2011.
Further and in the alternative to 4 above, an Order of Mandatory Injunction compelling the Defendants to pay the Claimants forthwith all accrued pensions calculated as described and subsequently all such pensions as and when they fall due.
Justice Oji has Ordered the Defendant to comply with the Order of the Court within 90 days while also awarding the cost of N200,000.00 in favour of the Claimants.
The Court held that by the extant provision of Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) the Claimants are public servants and hence, Defendants must ensure the periodic harmonization of the pension of its retirees as provided for under Section 173 of the Constitution.
Relying on the case of Central Bank of Nigeria V Jacob Oladele Amao and 2 Ors. (2010) LPELR-838(SC), where the Supreme Court held that Public Service of the Federation in any capacity in respect of the government of the Federation and include service staff of any Statutory Corporation established by an Act of the Nation Assembly.
The Court relied on the Provision of Section 173 (1), (2) and (3) of the Constitution of the Federal to hold that the Claimants, are entitled under the Federal Government Policy on Harmonization of Pension to payment of such pensions as are based with effect from 1st January 1997 on emolument currently paid to their serving counterparts.
The Court also took judicial notice of the Federal Government Civil Service Circular relied on by the Claimants and which was accepted and recognized by the by the Defendants as far back as 1998 directing all government departments to implement all the harmonization of pension of retired public servants.
The Court rejected the Defendants’ argument that the payment of pension should be based on “affordability and sustainability” and held that payment must be based on provisions of the Constitution and government policy as expressly provided for in Section 173 of the Constitution and as reflected in the Federal Government Circular on Harmonization of Pensions of Public Servants.
3 thoughts on “National Industrial Court orders NNPC to pay harmonised pensions to retirees”
This will relieve some of 1996 retirees who are facing hardship.
God will bless justice Oji
and to you the old retiree congratulations ?
Congratulations. May God help NNPC fulfill this obligation.
Justice has prevailed at last after several years of high level deceit.To God be the glory.
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