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Court stops Kwara govt from deducting pensioners’ fund

Kwara state High Court sitting in Ilorin on Tuesday stopped the state government from deducting a sum of N421.6 million monthly from pensioners’ fund to…

Kwara state High Court sitting in Ilorin on Tuesday stopped the state government from deducting a sum of N421.6 million monthly from pensioners’ fund to pay junior secondary school teachers in the state.

The court also described the deduction of the funds by the state government since 2011 as illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.

The pensioners’ counsel, S. T. Abubakar, had sought relief of the court declaring that the monthly deduction of the said amount by the state government to teachers’ salaries is capricious, arbitrary and constitutes abuse of power and discretion.

Other reliefs sought are, “a declaration that the local government fund is meant for the maintenance of primary and adult education including payment of salaries and entitlement of local government staff (both serving and retired pensioners;

“a declaration that the state government has no right or power to deduct and or convert the local government funds to maintain or pay junior secondary schools in the state or elsewhere;

“an order of perpetual injunction restraining the state government either by themselves, agents, privies or representatives or whatsoever name they may be described from deducting and/or converting the state local government funds to maintain, finance and or pay the salaries of the staff of junior secondary schools or any secondary school staff in the state or elsewhere;

“an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants (state government) jointly and or severally either by themselves, their agents, privies or representatives from using the local government funds for any purpose order than the one stated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

Abubakar alleged that the 94 months of illegal deduction from the local government funds amounted to N39.6 billion, noting that the state government’s indebtedness to the pensioners stands at N15 billion and N4.5 billion gratuities and monthly pensions respectively.

In his judgement, Justice M.O. Adewara said that state government’s action is antithetical to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Laws of the state.

“There is no provision in the Nigerian constitution and the Laws of Kwara state that gives the responsibility of junior secondary school to local government”, Justice Adewara said.