Osun dismisses lawyer’s threat over judges unpaid allowances

Osun State Government has told an Ibadan-based lawyer, Mr. Mutalubi Adebayo, SAN, to drop his threat to drag Governor Ademola Adeleke and the government before court over unpaid allowances of judges working in the state, urging the legal practitioner to avoid “interloping activism”.

Adebayo on Thursday gave Adeleke a 10-day ultimatum to pay arrears of allowances owed retired and serving judges in the state or face a legal action.

In the statement dated Thursday, September 21, which he personally signed and obtained by our correspondent in Osogbo, Adebayo said should Adeleke refuse to yield to the request by September 30, legal action to compel him to pay up would commence in a court of competent jurisdiction on October 3.

The lawyer, who confirmed being the author of the statement in a message to our correspondent, also noted that beside the arrears of outstanding allowances, he would also claim interest and aggravated damages in respect of the unpaid entitlements.

Adebayo’s statement read in parts, “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.”

But while reacting, the government in a statement by the governor’s spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, said Adebayo’s action was not only tantamount to “meddlesomeness, but misrepresentation and misinterpretation 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 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.”

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