Judges advises Lalong, sacked LG officials, to settle out of court
Justice Philomena Lot of Plateau High Court IV, has advised the Plateau Government and sacked Local Government Chairmen to pursue an out-of-court settlement to the dispute arising from the sack.
The judge gave the advice on Friday in Jos, while addressing lawyers to both parties in the case brought before her by the sacked chairmen and vice chairmen of the 17 Local Government Areas of the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that Gov. Simon Lalong had, on July 6, 2015, sacked the elected council officials, and replaced them with interim management committees.
No reason was given for the sack of the council officials that had two years left of their three-years tenure, when they were removed.
Aggrieved by the action, the sacked officials dragged Lalong, the State’s Attorney General, the State House of Assembly and Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC) to court as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants.
The officials, through their Counsel, Mr Philemon Daffi, asked the court to declare their sack as “unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional, null and void’’.
They also requested for an order compelling the defendants to pay them an accumulative N250,123,075.86 being their withheld salaries and allowances, from July 2015 to March 3, 2017 to complete the residues of their respective tenures.
When the case came up on Friday, the judge advised lawyers to both parties to talk to their clients toward finding a common ground for an out-of-court settlement.
“I want to advise you to call your clients and discuss with them to find a common ground to settle this matter out of court; if that is done, it will be good for this state.
“We are all from this state (Plateau); we don’t have any other place. So we should embrace peace so that we can go on with life, smiling with one another.
“I think it can be done peacefully just as it happened in the past with a past regime; this is my own candid advice,’’ she stated.
Mr Sunday Obende, Counsel to Lalong, who welcomed the advice, said that the state government was disposed to any favourable settlement, and promised to explore any opportunity in that respect.
“My Lord, I will definitely engage my client in a discussion to see how we can look into your good advice,’’ Obende promised.
Daffi, in his response, also welcomed the idea “so long as the other parties will accept it”.
Mrs. Florence Lotben, Counsel to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants, also welcomed the suggestion, and promised to also persuade her clients into seeing how the matter could be settled out of court.
Lotben, however, told the court that she had an application which she intended to serve the court and other lawyers, and asked the court for an adjournment to enable her effect service as expected by law.
The judge adjourned the case to April 10, for hearing on Lotben’s application and the substantive suit. (NAN)