The Plateau Government is to pay N1.57 billion as severance allowance to sacked councillors in the 17 Local Government Areas of the state, following a court judgment which faulted their dissolution in 2015.
Mr Gyang Zi, lawyer to the councillors, who made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Jos, expressed happiness with the ruling.
“We are happy that the court ruled in our favour even though it did not give an order for the garnishing of the accounts of the state and local governments.
“By the judgment of the High Court last Friday, my clients, 271 of them, are entitled to N1.57 billion, as their severance allowance from the state government and the 17 local government councils.
“If the court had given an order for the garnishing of the state government and local governments’ accounts, we would have gone straight to garnish the accounts.
“As we speak, we are already preparing our letter demanding for the payment as their (councillors’) entitlements for the remaining nine months in their two-year tenure as elected representatives of their people.”
Zi described the judgment as “victory to democracy’’ and commended the Judge for a “thorough job and fair judgment”.
In his reaction, Mr Garba Pwul (SAN), Counsel to Gov. Simon Lalong, said the judgment was still being studied to decide whether or not to appeal.
“We are still studying the court judgment right now; we can only decide whether to appeal or not after careful study of its contents,” Pwul said.
NAN recalls that Lalong had on June 15, 2015, sacked the elected council officials comprising chairmen and councillors and replaced them with Interim Management Committees (IMCs).
Dissatisfied with their sack, the chairmen and councillors separately challenged Lalong’s decision in court, and judgment was given in their favour on Aug. 4, 2017, by the state High Court III.
Justice David Mann, the High Court III Presiding Judge, in the ruling, faulted the removal of the elected councillors when their two-year tenure was remaining nine months.
According to him, the councillor’s sack violates Section 23 of the Local Government Council Law and Provisions of Sections 1 and 2 of the Plateau amended Local Government Council Law of 2007.