N2.5bn judgment debt: ABU, 110 staff members’ settlement meeting ends in deadlock

The out-of-court settlement meeting on the execution of N2.5 billion judgment debt between Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, and its 110 disengaged staff has ended in a deadlock.

Isaac Enabhule, the counsel to the judgment creditors, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Zaria that the meeting was convened at the instance of the ABU Zaria.

He said they were about executing a judgment worth over N2 billion against the ABU, but the university wanted settlement and we consented to the settlement.

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He explained that judgment of the court can be compromised through settlement and the meeting was to arrive at a decision that would be favourable to all parties and report back to the court on December 11.

“The meeting was inconclusive because a detail of the data sent by PTAD to ABU regarding the pensions of the unjustly retired officers of the university was sent to Abuja.

“Our clients (judgment creditors) don’t have a copy; our clients, therefore, appear not to agree with the data,” he said.

He added that some of our clients were put under PENCOM while others were under PTAD, hence the need for our clients to confirm the true position of what PTAD sent to ABU.

However, Enabhule assured that the meeting would be reconvened between now and Dec. 11 and report back to the court on the terms of settlement.

Daniel Bode, former deputy bursar of ABU, who was the leader of the judgment creditors, also told NAN that prior to the court judgment, ”there were three different white papers that recommended our reinstatement”.

According to him, the three different white papers that recommended their reinstatement were not implemented and proceeded to court where we obtained a judgment on Nov. 30, 2015.

“There was an appeal by the respondent, ABU, Federal Ministry of Education and Attorney General of Federation, but the appeal was dismissed.

“We made computation of our entitlements which was approved by the court and the judgment debtors did not challenge it at the court until after we applied for the execution of the judgment,” he said.

Mr Bode lamented that judgment creditors were intentionally delaying the execution of the judgment, as such they would not shift ground on their demand and they knew most of them were aging.

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However, Sadiq Momoh-Jimoh, leader of the ABU team and the Chairman of the meeting, said ABU was ready for the out-of-court settlement.

He attributed the long delay for not holding the out-of-court settlement meeting to the delay in obtaining the data from PTAD relating to issues on Pension and Gratuity of the 110 judgment creditors.

Similarly, Abubakar Is’haq, a member of the legal team from the ABU, said the documents from PTAD have been forwarded to one of the counsels for the judgment creditors, Femi Adedeji, on November 4.

NAN recalls that the appointments of 110 ABU staff were terminated in 1996.

They approached the court in 2012, after failure of the institution to implement the recommendations of various visitation panels, which recommended that they be reinstated and all their entitlements paid.

NAN also recalls that the court ruled in favour of the staff in 2015 and ordered the university to reinstate them and pay their entitlements, which amounted to N2.5 billion.

Non-compliance with the court judgment necessitated the garnishee order on the institution’s bank accounts in 2017.

However, when the garnishee proceeding was ongoing, the judgment debtors filed for a stay of proceeding as they had filed an appeal before Appeal Court in November 2018, contesting the 2015 judgment.

The Court of Appeal on its part on May 24, 2021, dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decision of the lower court.

The NICN then on Jan. 27, through a ruling, made an order absolute in a garnishee proceeding ordering the CBN to pay the disengaged staff.

NAN

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