An Ibadan-based lawyer, Mutalubi Adebayo, SAN, has given the Governor of Osun State, Ademola Adeleke, a 10-day ultimatum to pay arrears of allowances owed to retired and serving judges in the state or face legal action.
Adebayo had said if Adeleke refuses to comply with his demand by September 30, legal action to compel him to pay up would commence in a court of competent jurisdiction on October 3.
He also noted that besides the arrears of outstanding allowances, he would also claim interest and aggravated damages in respect of the unpaid entitlements.
His statement read in part, “This serves as a notice to the Governor, the Government and the Judicial Service Commission of Osun State of Nigeria that if all the arrears of allowances being owed all the Judicial Officers in the state (both serving and retired) from the tenure of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola till date are not liquidated on or before the 30th day of September 2023, I, JCI Senator Mutalubi Ojo Adebayo, SAN, shall on the 3rd day of October 2023 commence legal action in a court of competent jurisdiction to recover the full amount of the said unpaid allowances from the Government of Osun State and its Judicial Service Commission.
“Take further notice that I will also claim interest and aggravated damages in respect of those unpaid allowances because the acts of the Government of Osun State in refusing to pay same over the years amount to sheer callousness, recklessness, disregard for rule of law, indecent and unfair.”
However, in response to the threat, the Osun State Government has told Adebayo to drop his threat to drag the Governor to court.
The gGovernor’s Spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, made this known in a statement issued on Thursday saying Adebayo’s action was not only tantamount to “meddlesomeness’ but misrepresentation of employment relationship between employees and the employer”.
The state government, which said while it would not immediately attribute Adebayo’s threat of legal action to the politicization of service matters, reminded the public that the lawyer affirmed that the allowances were owed by Aregbesola/Oyetola administrations.
The statement read partly, “We can add for him that the Adeleke administration inherited from the two previous governments of the All Progressive Congress a whopping salary, pension and employment related debt to the tune of 100 billion naira. This is outside another state debt of over 400 billion naira. The Adeleke administration has however commenced payment of such salary and pension debt amidst cash crunch and equally competing demands for state expenditure.
“We are constrained to therefore urge the lawyer to avoid distractive and interloping activism. As we believe he is not politically recruited, he should adopt other dignifying route rather than usurping labour dispute question which only the unions and their employers can undertake.
“As we assume the lawyer has good intention, he can rework his threat into an appeal to the State Governor to continue his ongoing phased payment of outstanding liabilities inherited from the previous administrations. He may further commend the Governor for acting for all Osun people by devising strategies to complete abandon projects and gradual payments of outstanding liabilities.”