October 20, 2011

Forty-eight former Members of Parliament (MPs) under the Third Republic have rued a writ at the High Court to compel the government to pay them end-of-service benefits.

In a writ dated October 13, 2011 and filed by Alhaji Mohammed Sani Farl, who is himself one of the plaintiffs against the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, the former MPs demanded the payment of their end of service benefits, together with interest at the prevailing commercial bank rate from December 31, 1981 to date.

A statement of claim accompanying the writ said the plaintiffs had resorted to the court because successive governments had failed to honour the promise of paying them their end of service benefits.

It claimed that the plaintiffs had, since 2000, made several attempts and held many meetings at the highest level of government and been assured that their demands would be taken care of.

According to the statement, all efforts made by the plaintiffs for the past 11 years had been in vain because the government, in spite of all the promises made to them, actually did not intend to honour them and, therefore, the only option left was to seek redress in the law court.

The statement said per Article 94 (1) of the 1979 Constitution, MPs were supposed to serve for five years, after which Par1iament would be dissolved and fresh elections held.

Besides, it said, Article 79 of the 1979 Constitution provided for the mode of removal of MPs from office.

While Article 95 of the same constitution provided for end-of-service benefits or gratuity accruable to MPs at the end of the five-year term.

According to the statement, on December 31, 1981, about 27 months into their term, a coup d’etat brought to an abrupt ended their term as MPs and indicated that the coup makers subsequently formed the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).

It said some of the former MPs were arrested and detained for various terms in prison without trial and maltreated, while others had to seek refuge or political asylum in other jurisdictions.

It said some of the former MPs died as a result of the torture and maltreatment they suffered in the hands of the coup makers.

After 11 years of military rule under Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, the statement said, the Fourth Republican Constitution was promulgated.

It said the parliament of the Third Republic having been dissolved, the former MPs were entitled to be paid gratuity or end-of-service benefits just like their colleagues who served under the 1992 Constitution.

“All MPs under the 1992 Constitution to date have received their end-of-service, benefits,” it statement added.

Daily Graphic