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.



Industrial Court dismisses N5.8m Councilor claim against Local Govt

431 Monday 15th April 2024

The Presiding Judge, Enugu Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Oluwakayode Arowosegbe has dismissed the entitlement claim filed by former councilor Hon. Ugwu Alexander against Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area in its entirety for lacking merit.

The Court held that the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission whose sole duty it is to provide allowances for councilors did not provide for such and the Court is estopped to honour the illegal demand.

From facts, the claimant- Hon. Ugwu Alexander had pleaded that he was elected a councilor twice to represent Ozala Ward of Igbo-Etiti local government area of Enugu State and at the end of the two tenures, he was still owed a total of N5.8m allowances. 

He alleged that, in November 2017, the Enugu State Government directed the Igbo-Etiti local government to compile the list of indebtedness and also, paid part of it, whereupon the Igbo-Etiti local government made an undertaking to offset the balance, latest July 31 2018, but reneged. 

In defense, the defendant- Igbo-Etiti Local Government maintained that it paid Hon. Alexander all his entitlements as councilor and did not owe him anything. The Council counterplead the legality of the alleged debt and objected to the suit on the grounds that Hon. Alexander failed to serve pre-action notice and the case is statute-barred by virtue of the Enugu State Actions Law [ESAL] amongst others.

The learned counsel to Igbo-Etiti LGA, Basil Nwalem Esq further argued that the alleged debt was illegal by virtue of the 1999 Constitution as there was no provision made for them by the RMAFC and urged the Court to dismiss the case in its entirety.

In opposition, the learned claimant’s counsel also countered the question of illegality raised by the learned defence counsel and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought in the interest of justice.

In a well-considered judgement, the Presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Oluwakayode Arowosegbe held that the pre-action notice was duly served on Igbo-Etiti Local Government and dismissed the objections for lacking merit.

The Court held that Hon. Alexander failed to point to any law duly passed by the Enugu State House of Assembly that made provisions for councilors’ allowances.

“…the alleged debt, is actually an illegal debt because it lacks statutory and contractual backings.” Justice Arowosegbe

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