Osun State governor, Ademola Adeleke on Thursday described the threat of legal action against the government over what has been described as “abysmal neglect of judges welfare in the state” as “meddlesomeness and misinterpretation of employment relationship between employees and the employer.”
It would be recall that An Ibadan-based lawyer, Mutalubi Ojo Adebayo (SAN), had threatened legal action against the Osun State Government and the state Judicial Service Commission over unpaid arrears of allowances owed to all Judicial Officers in the state.
The legal luminary in a notice signed by him and dated 21st day of September, a copy sighted by journalist, declared his intention to commence legal actions, giving the government till September 30, 2023, to liquidate all the arrears.
Adebayo further stated that he will claim interest and aggravated damages in respect of the unpaid allowances, saying the refusal of the state government to pay amounted to disregard for the rule of law.
“I, JCI Senator Mutalubi Ojo Adebayo, SAN, shall on the 3rd day of October, 2023 commence legal action in a court of competent jurisdiction to recover the full amount of the said unpaid allowances from the Government of Osun State and its Judicial Service Commission.
“TAKE further notice that, I will also claim interest and aggravated damages in respect of those unpaid allowances because the acts of the Government of Osun State in refusing to pay same over the years amount to sheer callousness, recklessness, disregard for rule of law, indecent and unfair.”
The notice reads, “This serves as a notice to the Governor, the Government and the Judicial Service Commission of Osun State of Nigeria that if all the arrears of allowances being owed all the Judicial Officers in the state ( both serving and retired) from the tenure of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola till date are not liquidated on or before the 30th day of September 2023.
But the state governor, while reacting through his spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed said that the allowances were owed by Aregbesola/Oyetola administration.
He said the Adeleke administration inherited from the two previous governments of the All Progressive Congress a whopping salary, pension and employment related debt to the tune of N100 billion. This is outside another state debt of over N400 billion.
The statement read thus; “Our attention has been drawn to a threat of legal action by an Ibadan based legal practitioner, Mutalubi Ojo Adebayo, to sue the Osun state government for non-payment of allowances owed judicial officials by the previous administrations. The action does not only amount to meddlesomeness but a misrepresentation and misinterpretation of employment relationship between employees and the employer”
“As much as we will not wish to attribute the threat of legal action to politicization of service matters, we must remind the public that the lawyer expressly affirmed that the allowances were owed by Aregbesola/Oyetola administration. We can add for him that the Adeleke administration inherited from the two previous governments of the All Progressive Congress a whopping salary, pension and employment related debt to the tune of 100 billion naira. This is outside another state debt of over 400 billion naira.
“The Adeleke administration has however commenced payment of such salary and pension debt amidst cash crunch and equally competing demands for state expenditure. The public is aware that Governor Ademola Adeleke has deployed strategic ingenuity and uncommon resource management options to administer the state, delivering on various sectoral targets and also attending to the welfare of workers.
“It is on record that the Adeleke administration ensures payment of salary as at when due and is also working to pay up inherited employment related debt from the previous administrations. Many would wonder why the Ibadan lawyer did not sue those who created the mess while they were in office. We are even shocked that the barrister in question chooses to attack a Governor who is doing all within his powers to correct fundamental errors of the last 12 years and set the state on the path of sustainable growth.
“We must also put on record that Osun judicial workers have their unions and it is not in doubt that the union leadership is capable and able to advance the interest of their members. The Unions are also not unmindful of the inherited rot and ongoing efforts of the government to holistically address their issues”
“We are constrained to therefore urge the lawyer to avoid distractive and interloping activism. As we believe he is not politically recruited, he should adopt other dignifying route rather than usurping labour dispute question which only the unions and their employers can undertake”
“As we assume the lawyer has good intention, he can rework his threat into an appeal to the State Governor to continue his ongoing phased payment of outstanding liabilities inherited from the previous administrations. He may further commend the Governor for acting for all Osun people by devising strategies to complete abandon projects and gradual payments of outstanding liabilities.”