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The court has exclusive jurisdiction in civil causes and matters relating to or connected with any labour, employment, trade unions, industrial relations and matters arising from workplace, the conditions of service, including health, safety, welfare of labour, employee, worker and matter incidental thereto or connected therewith.

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Industrial Court voids Kebbi State retirement benefits Law, awards cost in favour of retired Chief Judge


1417 Wednesday 8th November 2023

The Presiding Judge, Sokoto Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Rakiya Haastrup has nullified Section 4 of the Kebbi State Political and Public Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances) Law 2010 for being inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended).

 

The Court declared that the Kebbi State Government ought to rely on the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended) in the calculation of the retirement benefits of Justice M. S. Ambrusa (RTD) and not Section 4 of the Kebbi State Law No.25 of 2010 as applied by the State Government.

 

Justice Haastrup granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Kebbi State Government whether by itself, Officers from further relying on the provision of Section 4 of the Kebbi State Law No.25 of 2010 Political and Public Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances) Law in the calculation of the remuneration of Judicial Officers already provided for by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended).

 

From facts, the claimant- Justice M. S. Ambrusa (RTD), a retired Chief Judge of the Kebbi State High Court had sought a declaration that the Kebbi State Government ought to rely on Sections 84 (1), (2), (7) and Section 291 (1), (2), (3a and b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended) in the calculation of the retirement benefits of the Claimant and not Section 4 of the Kebbi State Law No.25 of 2010 as applied by the Defendant.

 

The retired Chief Judge argued that where the National Assembly has made provision, particularly for the remuneration of Judicial Officers, that a State House of Assembly cannot make any law which is inconsistent with the former.

 

Counsel to the retired Chief Judge, Munirat Yahaya Esq posited that Kebbi State Government law in calculating the benefits of retiring judicial officers runs contrary to the provisions of sections 84 and 291 of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) and should be set aside as the Constitution being the grund norm supersedes any other law in force.

 

In defense, the defendant- Kebbi State Government submitted that the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) recognizes the power of a State House of Assembly to make laws for the payment of retirement benefits to Judicial Officers and that the use of the word ‘or’ is disjunctive and separates two situations. Also, the payment of retirement benefits could be by an Act of the National Assembly or by a Law of a State House of Assembly since in his opinion, it is not a matter contained in the exclusive legislative list.

 

In reply, the counsel to the retired Chief Judge, Munirat Yahaya Esq further argued that where the National Assembly by an Act or the Constitution has already made provisions on the subject matter, then a State House of Assembly cannot make any law to alter or is at variance with such earlier statute, that the argument of the Kebbi State Government being the one paying the said retirement benefit is inconsequential since the Constitution is binding on all and has already made provisions on the said subject matter, urged the Court to grant the reliefs sought.

 

In a well-considered judgment, the presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Rakiya Haastrup held that where a matter contained in the concurrent legislative list has been legislated upon by the National Assembly, then a State House of Assembly cannot pass legislation in that regard as the Act of the National Assembly is said to have ‘covered the field’ in that regard. 

 

Justice Haastrup held that since there is an Act of the National Assembly I.e. Certain Political, Public and Judicial Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances, etc.) (Amendment) Act, 2008 in force, the Kebbi State Government through its State House of Assembly, cannot come under the provisions of sections 4 (6) and 100 of the Constitution to legislate on the subject matter before this Court. 

 

“This is in addition to the fact that section 4 of the Kebbi State Political and Public Office Holders (Salaries and Allowances) Law No. 25 of 2010 have figures or amounts stipulated therein that are inconsistent with what has been provided in the Federal enactment and by the provision of section 4 (5) of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended).”

 

The Court awarded the sum of N100k in favour of the retired Chief Judge.


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