By Jude Atupulazi
The Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has been dragged before an industrial court in Enugu by former Councillors, Supervisory Councillors, Secretaries and LG Deputy Chairmen over the governor’s failure to pay them their statutory entitlements.
The litigants served in 20 out of 21 local government councils of the state on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, from 2014-2017.
Addressing the media in Awka, the former council officials led by Hon Barr Bestley Okoye, said they went to court after unsuccessfully exhausting all avenues, through their lawyer, Femi Falana, in getting the state government of Willie Obiano to pay them their benefits, despite the same government paying the severance packages of other political officers like commissioners, special assistants, among others, who, they said, also served within the period the litigants served (2014-2017).
Hon Okoye, reading the communique on behalf of others, said they had procured the services of Barr Femi Falana of Falana & Falana Chambers to lead their team of lawyers at the Industrial Court, Enugu, against the state govt and 20 local govt councils in Anambra State where they served.
He stated that all efforts made collectively and individually to dialogue with the administration of Gov Obiano and get the state govt to pay their entitlements were to no avail.
Such efforts, he said, included issuing of pre-action notices to relevant council areas via letters dated January 25, 2019, and addressed to the various local councils and the state’s attorney general.
‘In spite of the said pre-action notices, the Anambra State Government and the 20 local government councils still refused to pay,’ Okoye said, noting that other states like Delta, Enugu, Akwa Ibom and Cross River had paid outstanding salaries and allowances, plus severances, of their counterparts who served as chairmen, deputy chairmen, leaders, deputy leaders, councilors, supervisory councilors and secretaries in their respective councils between 2014 and 2017.
He said his colleagues were therefore left with no option than to approach the Industrial Court in Enugu to adjudicate on the matter, even as he said the former council operators remained confident in the nation’s judiciary.
Fides gathered that hearing on the matter will begin on October 16, 2019.