Legislative aides who served members of the National Assembly from 2003 to 2011 have sued the management of the Assembly, demanding for their unpaid severance allowances.
The aides are accusing officers from the position of directors, to the Clark of the national assembly for embezzling their severance allowance belonging to them.
A legislative aide, who dd not want his name in print, told our reporter that the accrued money was for those who served at the National Assembly as aides to lawmakers between 2003 to 2007 and 2007 to 2011, which is giving to aides at the end of the tenure members as they are not pensionable.
“We were short changed by the management of the National Assembly; as a result, we had to head to the Industrial Court for justice. We tried to explain our situation to the management of the National Assembly but rather, they have been appealing for modalities for out-of-court settlement.
According to him, the Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa had informed them in their last meeting with him that the matter is beyond his leadership and that he has to involve the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
A staff of the National Assembly, who is said to be familiar with the issue, acknowledged the fact that they were short-changed and said that the management are preparing to meet with the aggrieved aides to work out modalities for the out-of-court settlement.
Similarly, the lawyer representing the legislative aides at the Industrial Court, Barrister Max Nduka Ozoaka, explained that the reason for the court case is that the National Assembly had at, the end of 2007 session, said some legislative aides did not serve up to two years and are therefore, not entitled to severance allowance.
Barr Max argued that “the essence of this allowance is to cushion the effect of being disengaged from service; so, if one has served for a year and half, one has been out of any means of engagement and has committed his service to one organisation for this period till the end of the session, then they deserve to be paid”.
He pointed out that if one has served for two years and is paid pro-rata, then it should be applicable to those that served for a year and half; “Why would Senators, House Members and Governors and Deputies who served less than two years receive their severance gratuity in full and there is a discriminatory application to these “lesser” Nigerians”?
“Approximately, 300 legislative aides of the 2007 session of the NASS headed to the courts to challenge the non-payment of their allowance, while the NASS absolved itself of blame and faulting the Revenue Mobilization Commission which laid down the rule.
“Left to the NASS alone, they would have been paid, but they are depending on the Revenue Commission’s interpretation; in fact, having considered the scenario, they had passed a resolution asking that they be paid, but they weren’t; that is why we are waiting for the Judiciary to give its own interpretation”.
Declining to comment on the amount involved, Barr Max said that even though there was an ad-hoc committee on severance allowance, the bulk of this matter stops at the table of the Clerk of NASS.
“It is quite discriminatory, when the Governors, Senators and House members serve for less that time and get full entitlement; in fact, there were those who were disengaged disonourably but were paid, while the law says if you are disonourably disengaged, you don’t deserve to be paid; it is not fair” he lamented.