Dr. Alex Otti, Abia State governor, and the umbrella group of Retired Judges in the State have agreed to set up a joint committee to resolve the issue of outstanding benefits and pensions due the retirees for the past 16 years.
The state government had since 2007 failed to pay the retirement benefits of the former judges, which include gratuities, consolidated allowances, severance packages, pension, and miscellaneous entitlements.
Subsequent administrations had made several commitments either by way of making authorization for payment or giving approvals to make payment by installments but none of the commitments was made good.
This led to the Judges filing an action at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in 2020 to recover their entitlements.
Sadly, as the court cases rage, some of these judges are said to have died without receiving their benefits, while many have become sick and unable to afford proper medical care.
The immediate past government reportedly promised to pay N10 million every month, but only did so for one month.
However, the Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, desirous of bringing the sufferings of the retired jurists to an end, met with them on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, in his residence in Nvosi, Isialangwa South and assured them of government’s resolve to bring their predicament to a close.
At the emergency meeting, convened at the instance of the Governor to proffer solution to the lingering impasse, the retired Judges and their lead counsel, a former Attorney General of Abia State, Prof. Awa Kalu SAN, agreed with Governor Otti to immediately set up a committee to resolve the issue.
The committee, to be constituted from among the retired judges, officials from the Ministry of Justice and relevant officers of government, would calculate and confirm the actual sum due to each of the retired judges or the beneficiaries of those deceased and report back to the Governor within two weeks.
“This is to enable the government set up a pragmatic strategy that would ensure the immediate liquidation of the outstanding retirement benefits,” said the state Attorney-General, Ikechukwu Uwanna, who was at the meeting.
“His Excellency decried how the state has rewarded its citizen who slaved for the peace, development and progress of Abia State with penury and promised to reverse the trend,” Uwanna added.
The Judges were led by Hon. Justice S. N. Imo who retired as the chief Judge of Abia State.