Benue govt defeats 300 former aides over N1.9bn suit

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On Wednesday the National Industrial Court, Makurdi Division, presided over by Justice Isaac Essien, dismissed the suit filed by aides of former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, claiming N1.9 billion from the state government as several allowances owned them.

The former aides, led by Mr Simon Ajoh, had dragged the state government to court, demanding the payment of their entitlement such as furniture allowance and severance package, which they claimed had accrued to them as political appointees.

The categories that went to court are; Senior Special Assistant, SSA; Special Assistants and Principal Assistant, PA.

The claimant called three witnesses and closed their case.

Urging the court to dismiss the suit, the Benue State Government, through its counsel, Douglas Pepe, SAN, filed preliminary objections to the suit on the grounds that the claimants’ appointments are not recognized under Section 196 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

He also submitted that the claimants, by virtue of their appointments, are not political or public office holders, and the allowances being claimed are not provided for under the political, public and judicial office holders(remuneration) law of Benue State, 2008

He also said that the claimants’ action was based on a repealed law.

In his judgement, Justice Essien upheld the preliminary objections of counsel to the Benue State Government and dismissed the suit.

Justice Essien held that the claimants were not public office holders under Section 196 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended), but appointees answerable to the governor while in office and not employees of the Benue State Government.

Justice Essien held that the claimants were not entitled to their claims and failed to prove their case to warrant judgement in their favour.

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