The National Industrial Court (NIC), Lagos State division has granted an order for immediate payment of harmonized pensions toretireesof the NigerianNationalPetroleumCorporation (NNPC), putting sealed lips to controversy overinequalityarisingfrompensionbeingreceived by retired staff of the nation’s giant corporation.
The arbitration court in a judgment delivered by Justice Elizabeth Oji, ordered NNPC and the NNPC Pension Fund Limited to pay the harmonized pension totheretireesfrom1stJanuary, 1997todateinaccordance withSection173 of the1999Constitution(asamended).
Justice Oji in the case as presented by parties agreed with the submission of Adeleke Agbola, who contended that by Section 173 (3) of the 1999 Constitution, Clause 43 of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation’s Corporate Policy & Procedure Guide (CPPG), the Federal Government’s Circular No. SWC/S/04/S.8/25 dated 11th May, 1999; Presidency Circular No. SWC/04/VOL. IV1011 dated 17th May, 1999; Office of the Head of Service Circular No. B.63216/S.I/X/I dated 19th July 1999; Presidency Circular No. PEN.64615/ S.I/25 dated 2nd October 1998; Presidency Circular No. SWC/04/VOL. IV/1011 dated 17th May, 2010; Presidency Circular No. B.63216/S.I/X/840 dated 5th October 2000 and a letter from the Head of Civil Service of the Federation No. PEN.64615/S. II/36 dated 11th December, 2000, said the retirees were entitled under the Federal Government’s policy on Harmonization of Pensions to their pensions with effect from 1st January, 1997 on emoluments currently being received by their counterparts who were still in service.
The court’s verdict was predicated on a suit No. NICN/LA/329/2019, initiated by Dr. Ikechukwu Nwobodo and 13 others, suing for themselves and on behalf of other concerned pensioners of the NNPC, through their counsel, Adeleke Agbola. Nwobodo and his aggrieved NNPC retirees among other reliefs, sought an order of mandamus to compel the defendants to pay to them all accrued pensions calculated with effect from 1st January, 1997 on emoluments currentlyearnedbytheirserving counterparts as prescribed under the Federal GovernmentPolicyonHarmonizationof Pensions.
However, the retirees also sought the following reliefs among others; *A declaration that the defendants’ decision to pay the claimants pension on the basis of “affordability and sustainability” or ex gratias is ultra vires, null and void.
*An order directing the defendants to pay to the claimants forthwith all accrued pensions calculated with effect from 1st of January, 1997 on emoluments currently earned by their serving counterparts as prescribed under the Federal Government Policy on Harmonization of Pensions aforesaid and subsequently all such pensions as and when they fall due.
- An order directing the defendants to comply fully with the provisions of Sections 39 of the Pension Reform Act, Cap. P4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and to fully fund the pension scheme in accordance with the directives of National Pension Commission as contained in its letter reference PENCOM/INSP/CT/NNPC/186/11/13 of 21st December, 2011.