The Osun State Government and the State Judicial Service Commission have been threatened with legal action by an Ibadan-based lawyer, Mutalubi Ojo Adebayo over an unpaid allowance arrears due to all judicial workers across the State.
In a notification he signed and dated September 21, 2023, Adebayo gave the state government until September 30, 2023, to pay off all outstanding debts; else, legal action will be taken.
The legal practitioner stated that he will seek interest and increase compensation for unpaid allowances, claiming that the state government’s reluctance to pay constituted to a contempt for the law.
The statement reads , “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.
“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.”
Responding, the state government in a statement signed by the spokesperson to Governor Ademola Adeleke, Olawale Rasheed said the threat of legal action by the legal practitioner, Mutalubi Ojo Adebayo was an attempt at meddlesomeness and misinterpretation of employment relationship.
Rasheed said that the allowances were owed by Aregbesola/Oyetola administration.
He said the Adeleke administration inherited from the two previous governments of the All Progressives Congress, APC, a whopping salary, pension and employment related debt to the tune of N100 billion, adding that this was outside another state debt of over N400 billion.
“As much as we will not wish to attribute the threat of legal action to politicization of service matters, we must remind the public that the lawyer expressly affirmed that the allowances were owed by Aregbesola/Oyetola administration. We can add for him that the Adeleke administration inherited from the two previous governments of the All Progressives 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. The public is aware that Governor Ademola Adeleke has deployed strategic ingenuity and uncommon resource management options to administer the state, delivering on various sectoral targets and also attending to the welfare of workers.
“It is on record that the Adeleke administration ensures payment of salary as at when due and is also working to pay up inherited employment related debt from the previous administrations. Many would wonder why the Ibadan lawyer did not sue those who created the mess while they were in office. We are even shocked that the barrister in question chooses to attack a Governor who is doing all within his powers to correct fundamental errors of the last 12 years and set the state on the path of sustainable growth.
“We must also put on record that Osun judicial workers have their unions and it is not in doubt that the union leadership is capable and able to advance the interest of their members. The Unions are also not unmindful of the inherited rot and ongoing efforts of the government to holistically address their issues.
“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 another dignifying route rather than usurping labour dispute questions which only the unions and their employers can undertake.”