By AFAM Echi
The N874m suit instituted by the immediate past Chairman of the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission (ISIEC), Barr Julius Onyenaucheya alongside 6 other Commissioners came up at the Industrial Court last Friday but was adjourned to October 14 this year.
The suit which came up at Owerri saw the parties withdrawing their earlier applications for injunctions. The claimants withdrew their 2 applications for injunctions which had sought to restrain ISIEC from appointing their replacements.
Since the matter was overtaken by events following the appointment of new commissioners they had to pull back the applications.
The defendants also withdrew their own application which sought to strike out the suit because it was filed in error. They defendants had thought that the claimants did not file the claims within the allowed time of three months.
So did ISIEC withdraw theirs as well. According to the attorney representing the claimants, Barr V, Anyanwu, the matter is now ripe for hearing and which will commence on the adjourned date of October 14.
In the suit Onyenaucheya and his colleagues are claiming the sum of 870m naira from the defendants arising from N170m unlawful dismissal and N700m for damages. They are appointees with statutory tenure of 5 years and appropriately ought to be allowed to serve out their tenor or be paid for the period of their services.
Governor Hope Uzodinma on assumption of office in January this year sacked the Chairman and his commissioners vide a letter dated 4th February and served them on the 6th of February.
It was also learned from our investigations that similar actions has been brought against the government from officials of other agencies who also share the same fate as the ISIEC Commissioners.
We gathered that the case between the government and appointees sacked in the Local Government Service Commission came up Monday last week.
In the suit the 7 claimants are suing the Governor, the Imo government, the Attorney-General of Imo State as well as the ISIEC who are claiming that they were irregularly employed.
Political observers have expressed varied opinions on the matter with some asserting that if the government is law abiding they should have paid them off or retained them. They condemned the attitude of government in incurring unnecessary legal charges and inconveniences which they believe amounts to self-inflicted distractions.
An APC Councillor, Gilead claimed there is no way the government can retain them because their loyalty would go to those who appointed them but he was silent on the irregular termination and the appropriate compensation.