It is most pleasing that HE Obaseki has commended the doctrine of separation of powers and the need to respect court orders. He recently made this commendation while praising the judgment of the Federal High Court which affirmed his proclamation of Edo State House Of Assembly into existence and held that NASS has no right to control the affairs of Edo State House Of Assembly.
It is ironical that sometime in July, 2019, the National Industrial Court, Akure, delivered a Judgment directing Edo State Government to reopen the College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, which the Government illegally closed down since 2017 or thereabout.
The court also held that Edo State Government could not terminate the appointment of the workers therein except as provided by the law establishing the institution. The Court then directed the said Government to release the necessary subvention to the college to enable it reopen its normal academic activities.
A copy of the judgment was served on Edo State Government through the Office of the Hon. Attorney General on 9th July, 2019.
Till date, the College has not been reopened and its workers have not been paid since January, 2018, despite the judgment and compelling compassionate reasons to do so. Some of the workers have since died from debilitating poverty and inability to afford basic medical care. The children of some of these workers have dropped out of school involuntarily due to non payment of school fees.
It is important to point out that while the case was pending, Edo State Government removed some of the roof of the institution on the pretext of renovating same, just to render the judgment incapable of any enforcement. The Government now claims to have passed a new law establishing that institution. This cannot be true. The law establishing that institution had been in existence since 1994 and had been given judicial recognition by appropriate courts.The best the Government can do is to amend same to meet its ambitions for the institution.
The outstanding salaries and emoluments of the workers remain payable as per the judgment of the National Industrial Court of July 2, 2019. So far, the judgment creditors have not been served with any Notice of Appeal by Edo State Government which has a few more days to do that, if it wishes to challenge that judgment. Till date, no court of law has granted a stay of execution against the said judgment. The judgment therefore remains valid.
The judgment creditors would like to use this medium to call on HE Obaseki to demonstrate his gratitude and that of Edo State Government to the Judiciary by obeying a valid judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction on Industrial matters. The least Edo State Government can do now is to pay all outstanding entitlements to the employees of Iguoriakhi College Of Agriculture and reopen same in the interest of justice and respect for the Rule Of Law.
God bless Edo State!God bless the Federal Republic Of Nigeria!
Dr. Ehiogie West-Idahosa [Counsel to the Judgment Creditors]