The Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, has reportedly defied an order of the court and that of the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, on the payment of salary arrears to a former Spokesperson of NEMA, Yushau Shuaib.
The National Industrial Court in Abuja had on November 22, 2017 in a judgment ordered the Federal Government to pay salary arrears to the ex-spokesman from 2013 till the date of judgment when he was unlawfully removed from his job.
Justice David Isele in the judgment also ordered that Yushau be reinstated into the office without any loss to seniority, salaries, position and other emoluments while his salary arrears must be paid within one month.
In compliance with the court’s order, the Federal Civil Service Commission in September 2018 recalled Yushau from the unlawful sack, while the salary arrears have since remained unpaid.
A contempt charge was subsequently filed against Mohammed seeking his committal to prison for refusal to obey the judgment of the court.
However, in a bid to escape court hammer, the Minister in a letter dated March 1, 2019 and addressed to the court confirmed reinstating Yushau back to the office and computing his outstanding salary arrears and emolument and that the Accountant General had since been directed to pay the five years’ remuneration into the bank account supplied by the aggrieved worker.
The Minister’s letter to the Accountant General seeking the salary arrears payment was signed by the Permanent Secretary and the Director of Finance of the Federal Ministry of Information.
The letter expressed surprise that the office of the Accountant General of the Federation was yet to comply with the directive.
However, in a strongly worded letter to the Accountant General by Yushau’s lawyer, James Ode Abah, he was given seven days within which to comply with the court order on the salary arrears payment or be charged to court for contempt.
The letter, copied the Minister of Information, Attorney General of the Federation, Chairman Federal Civil Service Commission and the Chairman Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, maintained that the Accountant General is under obligation to obey a lawful court order that is not set aside, stayed or appealed against.
It said: “We hold the office of the Accountant-General in high esteem and we anticipate the prompt compliance in the full payment of the outstanding salary arrears and emoluments due to our client from the year 2013 -2018 within 7 days from the receipt of this letter as computed by the Federal Ministry of Information and culture.
“If you do not accede to our clients demand within 7 days, we have the instruction of our client to institute contempt proceedings against you and to join your good office as a necessary party with respect to our contempt proceedings pending at the National Industrial Court.”
The case comes up at the National Industrial Court on February 3, 2021 before Justice Oyejoju Oyebiola Oyewumi.
Shuaib, an award-winning writer and public relations practitioner was forced to retire from the service after an article he wrote against a Minister over lopsided appointments in public offices.
After he was reinstated in 2018, he retired voluntarily from the service on October 10, 2019, when he clocked 50 years of age.