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Nigeria’s National Assembly in trouble for arbitrarily extending retirement age of its staff

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President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio | Speaker of House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas

Lawmakers of Nigeria’s National Assembly may have bitten more than they could chew after they passed a bill that arbitrarily extended the retirement age of National Assembly staff, different from the federal law guiding the retirement age of workers across the country.

It could be recalled that the lawmakers of both the upper and lower legislative chambers, the Senate and the House of Representatives, had passed the bill entitled “Harmonize Bill for Retirement of National Assembly Stall“.

The bill had extended the retirement age of their staff from 60 years to 65 and 35 to 40 years, whichever comes first.

In sharp response to the bill, a group, under the auspices of Mavrick Foundation approached the Federal High Court holden in Abuja and asked the court to quash the bill.

The matter involved interpretation of section 318 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution (as amended), rule 020908 of Public Service Rules of the Public Service of the Federation (2021).

The plaintiff sought, amongst other things:

  1. an order of Interlocutory Injunction retraining the… Respondents from passing or forwarding the Bill… to the President… for Assent pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
  2. an order… mandating the… all the staff of the National Assembly who are due for retirement, to proceed on leave forthwith, since there is no assented legislation permitting them to stay more than the age stipulated by the Public Service Rules.

The Application dated 5th March, 2024, Henry was filed by C. Okoro Esq, Counsel to Mavrick Foundation.

See a copy of the lawsuit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/-/2024 below:

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In its Affidavit in support of the Motion on Notice, Muhammad Yadudu Haamid, on behalf of Mavrick Foundation, argued that “due process of law was not followed in passing the bill”.

Haamid also argued further that the bill is “inconsistent with the constitution”.

According to the plaintiff, the lawmakers failed to consider the balance of convenience on the side of “the generality of other public servants whose interests were not included in the bill”.

It, therefore, asked the Court to stop any further perfection of the bill pending the determination of the substantive suit.

Iin the issues for determination, the applicants asked the court to decide as follows:

  1. Whether having regard to the extant provisions of section 318 of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended), if the Respondents and National Assembly staff did not fall within the purview of the description of who can be referred to as a public servant.
  2. If it is legal for the Respondents to disregard the provision of the law and without firstly amending the 1999 Constitution, plotting in a “clandestine legislation”, to extend the retirement age of their staff, ignoring others.
  3. Whether by virtue of Rule 020908 of the Public Service Rules (2021) it will be legal for National Assembly staff to continue to stay in office at the expiration of their retirement age as provided in the Rules.
  4. That the 4th Respondent falls within the purview of the description of who a public servant is with reference to Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution and that the move by the Respondents to extend the retirement age of their Staff is illegal.
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In the event the issues and/or questions are resolved in their favour, the Applicant asked the court to declare that the staff of National Assembly fall within the purview of public servants whose appointments and retirements are regulated by the Public Service Rules (2021).

The Applicant also asked the Court to restrain the Respondents from extending the retirement age of their staff from 35 to 40 years or 60 to 65 years depending on which one comes first by whatsoever means.

The Applicant held that such move will be contrary to public policy and will cause chaos within the administrative parlance of the public service.

It urged the court to order National Assembly staff that are due to step down and commence their retirement leave forthwith from the first day of the three-month terminal leave.

It insisted that National Assembly staff are appointed under the Public Service Rules, hence, others working under that capacity have over the years served and retired at the expiration of 35 or 60 years.

They further held that the Constitution did not place National Assembly Staff as special outside the Contemplation of the Public Service Rules, thus, the legislators have no power to secretly pass a bill on issues that are subject to the Constitution without firstly amending the constitution.

The suit has the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission and the Clerk to the National Assembly as Respondents.


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