The National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Makurdi, on Wednesday dismissed the suit filed by former local government caretaker chairmen in Benue State, whose appointments were terminated by the present administration.
The 23 council chairmen had approached the court, seeking, among others, a declaration of the court that their appointments as interim chairmen on April 8, 2015 by the immediate past governor of the state, Gabriel Suswam, were valid.
They also sought the declaration of the court that they were entitled to serve a term of six months and that the termination of their appointments by the present administration, having served only two months, was null and void.
The aggrieved former council chairmen were also asking for reinstatement and damages.
Delivering judgment on the matter, Justice Rakiya Haastrup said it was noteworthy that the appointments of the former local government chairmen were not protected by law, and as such, the issue of payment of salaries or allowances for unexpired tenure of office did not arise.
Justice Haastrup said the defendants, the Benue State Government, the governor of the state, the Attorney-General of the state and the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs had dealt extensively with the position of the claimants as caretaker committee members of the local government council, according to the provisions of Section 7(1) and 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria regarding the appointments and removal.
She maintained that the claims made by the ousted council chairmen lacked legal backing and could, therefore, not be upheld. She therefore dismissed the case.
“From my findings and reasoning above and also with judicial decisions cited, the claimants cannot succeed in their claims before this court. They are accordingly refused, as I equally find no merit in their action,” Justice Haastrup stated.
The affected former caretaker council chairmen are Donald Kertyo, Linus Tyogbawer Paul Ikwe, Nguher Teryima, Amos Aboh, Okibe Attah Onazi, Michael Obiabo, Abu Umoru, Orje Torhee, Tseeka J.M, Humbe Fidelis, Benjamin Dugeri, Amande Kwaghgba, Moses Shirsha, Tertsea Gbiseh Emma Baba Abah, Mark Sunday, Emmanuel Onoja, Bright Ogazi, Ahula Aor, Innocent Onuh, Iorwuese Tyopev and John Chia.