The Nigeria Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, has been dragged to court by two of his former aides over alleged diverted salaries and allowances totalling N21m.
The aides, Razaq Olubodun and Victor Oluwadamilare, former personal assistant and special assistant media, respectively, in two separate suits filed on their behalf by the same counsel, Adewale Lawal, are praying the court to order the payment of their outstanding salaries and allowances which the minister denied them while serving under him.
While Olubodun, in his suit before the Abuja Division of the National Industrial Court, numbered NICN/Abj/132/2019, is seeking to recover from the minister the sum of N9.8m allegedly paid alongside the minister’s salaries and allowances for 24 months; Oluwadamilare in his suit, NICN/Abj/133/2019 is claiming N11.7m purportedly his outstanding salaries and allowances for 28 months.
The duo are seeking the order of the court to declare that the non-payment of full salaries and allowances to them for those periods as wrongful, illegal and unconstitutional and that the minister should be ordered to pay them their unpaid salaries and allowances according to the Federal Government’s directive for payment of aides to the minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Equally, the claimants are asking for an order on the defendant to pay the sum of N50m to each of them as aggravated damages and to also pay them their full taxed costs of the prosecution of the suits.
The claimants averred that by their letters of appointments as PA and SA respectively, they were informed that their monthly emolument would be in line with the existing practice for paying PA and SA to a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Though the claimants noted that the above-stated fact was indicated in ‘paragraph 3’ of their letters of appointments dated 23rd Nov, 2015, the defendant “tried to make the salaries and allowances of the PA and SA to the minister to look like his own personal affairs.”
While Olubodun claimed he received just N1m from the minister all through his period of service; Oluwadamilare claimed he was paid thrice to the tune of N2.3m in his 28 months of service under the minister, alleging that the defendant collected all salaries and allowances belonging to them from the FGN but refused to forward or remit same to them.
The claimants recalled that a circular from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, dated 27th July, 1999, indicated in paragraph 1a that the salaries of PAs and SAs to ministers were Grade Levels 12 and 16, steps 4 respectively.
Shittu was accused by the former aides of applying intimidation, harassment, draconian and Machiavellian approach and threatening to take them to the court where he would ensure they were frustrated and would still not pay them the salaries in contention each time they demanded their rights while serving under him.
They claimed they had been subjected to immense suffering, ridicule and untold hardship as a result of the denial of their rights by the minister.
No date has been fixed for hearing of the case filed on the 20th of this month.
By Dominic C. Odoh
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