17 May 2017

Nigeria: Lalong, Sacked LG Officials Begin Talks Toward Out-of-Court Settlement

A Jos High Court on Wednesday heard that Governor Simon of Plateau had begun talks with sacked Local Government officials toward settling their dispute out of court.

The officials had filed a case before Justice Felomina Lot, challenging their removal by Lalong, before the expiration of their tenure.

At the resumption of hearing on the matter on Wednesday, Mr Philemon Daffi, counsel to the plaintiffs, said that his clients were already engaged in talks with the defendants.

"Talks have commenced in earnest between us; we have gone really far in our discussions," he said.

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 the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC) to court as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants.

The officials, through 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.

NAN reports that during the last sitting on April 15, 2017, Lalong had expressed his readiness for an out-of-court settlement with the officials, prompting the court to adjourn the matter to May 16, to allow for the talks.

At the resumption of sitting on Wednesday, Daffi said, "my Lord, we met on May 12, 2017 and had a far reaching discussion toward resolving the matter out of court.

"During the meeting, the representatives of the defendants and plaintiffs, as well as their counsel, were present.

"At the close of business of the day, we fixed June 2, 2017 for further deliberations.

"I want to apply for another adjournment to enable us conclude our discussions and report back to you, " Daffi pleaded.

Mr Sunday Obende, Lalong's Counsel and Mr Jacob Longben, State Deputy Director, Public Prosecution, confirmed what Daffi said.

"My Lord, what the plaintiff"s Counsel said is the true position of things," Obende stated.

Justice Lot, after listening to the lawyers, expressed delight at the progress in that line.

"What I have heard is an indication that something good is going to come out of that discussion," she said.

The judge then adjourned the case to June 16, 2017 for the outcome of the talks.



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