The National Industrial Court in Lagos has ordered the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and NNPC Pension Fund Limited to pay harmonised pensions to NNPC retirees. Justice Elizabeth Oji gave the two defendants 90 days within which to comply with the order, while also awarding N20,000 costs against them.

The judge made the order in a judgment delivered on Monday, which was obtained by a national newspaper yesterday.

She upheld the prayers made by the claimants, Dr. Ikechukwu Nwobodo and 13 others, through their counsel Adeleke Agboola, in a suit marked NICN/LA/329/2019. The judge directed the firms to pay the harmonised pension to the claimants from January 1, 1997 till date, in accordance with Section 173 of the 1999 Constitution.

The NNPC had contended that the payment of pension should be based on ‘affordability and sustainability.’ But, rejecting the argument, Justice Oji noted that a Federal Government Civil Service Circular in 1998 directed all government departments to implement harmonised pensions for public service retirees.

The judge held: “The defendants are hereby directed 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 …and subsequently all such pensions and when due.

“The defendants’ decision to pay the claimants pensions on the basis of ‘affordability and sustainability’ or ex gratias is ultra vires, null and void.

“The defendants are hereby directed to comply fully with the provisions of Sections 39 of the Pension Reform Act… and to fully fund the pension scheme in accordance with the directives of National Pension Commission.”

The full text of the judgement is available here.

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