JUDGMENT The claimants in this suit commenced this suit by a writ of summons in 2010 in the High Court of Enugu state. The suit was transferred to this court sometimes in 2013 and given the above suit number. The claimants in the amended statement of claim filed on the 22nd March, 2011 in this suit sought the following relieves from the court; 1) A declaration that the defendant is in breach of contract of employment it entered with the plaintiffs in 2002. 2) An order for the immediate payment by the defendant to the plaintiffs respectively of all the arrears of their allowances from April 2002 to 1st August, 2008 at the following rate per plaintiff: (a) Transport N1,100.00 per month (b). Meal subsidy –N 500.00 per month (c ) Utility- N300.0O per month (d) Rent subsidy •N40% of the annual basic salary. (e)Leave grant -10% of the annual basic salary 3) An order for the immediate payment of the sum of N242,900.00 (Two Hundred and Forty-Two Thousand, Nine Hundred Naira) per plaintiff being the arrears of their minimum gross salary from September 2008 to –December 2010 at the rate of N8,675.00 per month per worker 4) An order for the payment by the defendant of gross salary rate of N8,675.00 per month per plaintiff as may be entitled as their salaries and allowances by virtue of their respective grade levels from January 2011 to the date of judgment and thereafter by virtue of their contract of employment as civil servants and in accordance with their terms of employment with the Igbo-Etiti Local Government. 5) An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant from interfering with the employment of the plaintiffs. The claimant filed an amended statement of claim on 22/3/2011. The claimants called 2 witnesses and filed 3 witness depositions for DW1 Mr Echelunkwo John, and DW2 Damian Orji. They also front loaded several documents in prove of the employment status of the claimants with the defendant. The defendant filed a statement of defence on the 10th January 2011 and also filed an amended statement of defence after the close of the claimant case on the 9/3/2018. The defendant also filed a witness deposition of their sole witness Mr Charles Igbokidi the Assistant Chief Administration officer of the defendant. The defendant also front loaded several documents in their defence to the claim. The claimant filed a reply to the statement of defence on the 23/2/2011 with an additional witness statement on oath and also a list of further documents they intend to tender in evidence BRIEF STATEMENT OF THE FACTS. The claimants whom are 91 in number were allege to have been employed by the defendant in 2002 and were posted to departments in the defendant local government. The accepted the appointment and started working for the defendant without any query or disruption of their duties. They allege that sometime on the 29th may, 2010 the agents of the defendant prevented the claimants from further attending to their official responsibilities. The defendant is alleged to have subsequently advertised the position of the claimants for employment. The claimants counsel wrote to the defendant complaining about their action and later served a notice of intention to commence action against the defendant. The defendant is alleged to have ignored the letter and the notice to commence action. The case of the defendant is that it never employed the claimants, that is why their names are not on the pay roll of the defendant. The defendant case is also that they published vacancy for employment vide public notice No. 003 of 2010; Ref. ICT/215/T/OO1 after getting the approval of the Governor of Enugu, Barr. Sullivan I. Chime and also favourable recommendation of the local government service commission, Enugu State. That they do not owe the claimant any areas of salary. EXBIBITS TENDERED IN THE PROCEEDINGS In proof of their case the claimant tendered the following documents; 1) The letters of appointment of the defendants dated 26th February 2002 Exhibits C1 to C71. 2) Another set of letters of appointment dated 4th February 2002 Exhibit C34 to C91. 3) Letters of acceptance of appointments Exhibits CLAPP 1-91. 4) The medical certificates of the claimants dated the 26th February 2002, Exhibit CMCS1-91 5) Letters of Notification of appointment Exhibit CNAPP1-77 6) Letters of posting of some of the defendants to educational department of the defendants dated 6th February 2002, Exhibits CLOP 34-91 7) Letter of demand for payment of claimant salary dated 19th July 2010, Exhibit CLOD1 8) Letter of pre-action notice dated 6th August, 2010. Exhibit CLOSN1 9) Advert for employment issued by the defendant dated 20th June 2010 Exhibit CALD1 10) The order of Enugu State High Court restraining the defendant from conducting an interview on the 14/9/2010. Exhibit CLCO1. (11) A letter from the office of the head of service of Enugu state dated 9/9/2008 revising the basic salary of civil servants in Enugu state. Exhibit CLHOS1. (12) The handing over note from Hon. Mathias U. Ozor Chairman Transition Committee to a new chairman, Exhibit CLHON. (13 Conveyance of approval of Enugu State by Enugu State primary Education Board to Igbo Etiti LGA to recruit staff. Dated 12/10/2001. Exhibit CLROJ1. (14) The letter of appointment of Damian Orji the former secretary of Igbo Etiti LGC. Exhibit CLROJ2. The defendant through DW2 tendered the following Exhibits. 1. A letter of request to the Governor employ junior staff Exhibit D1. 2. Reminder of a letter of request to the Governor to employ junior staff dated 17/05/2010. Exhibit D2. 3. Letter of Request to the Governor approval to employ 250 junior staff. Exhibit D3. 4. Letter of conveyance of approval by the Governor by the Local Government Service Commission to employ Junior staff. Exhibit D4. Hearing in this matter commenced de-novo on the 23rd October,2017 with the claimants calling two witnesses CW1 and CW2, and closed their case on the 24th January 2018. The defendant opened and closed their case on the 14/3/2018. This court ordered parties to file their written addresses on the 12/6/2018. At the resumed hearing of this suit on the 16/11/2018 when the parties appeared before the court to adopt their final written addresses, counsel for the defendant Mr Igwebuike Esq urged this court to strike out the claimant ‘Additional claimant final address in reaction to the defendant final written address’ dated and files on the 11/6/2018 and also the ‘claimant reaction to new issues raised by the defendant’s counsel on the defendant reply on point of law ‘ dated and filed on the 25/6/2018. On the grounds that they offend Order 19 Rule 13(4) of the Rules of this court. The claimant counsel argued that the filing of the two further addresses was as a result of the failure of the defendant counsel to file the defendant final address within the stipulated time allowed by the rules of this court. That if the defendant had filed their addresses in time the claimant would have responded to all the issues in the defendant address. He argued that in the reply on point of law filed by the defendant, the defendant introduced a new issue which was never addressed in the suit hence the necessity to file the response to the point of law. I have carefully considered the argument put forward by both parties. I recall that this court ordered written address on the 2/5/2018. The defendant was to file his final address within 21 days. The defendant failed to file a final address on the 28/5/2018. After the expiration of the 21 days the claimant filed their final written address on the 1/6/18. If the defendant had filed their final written address in time, the claimant would have had a first-hand opportunity to respond to all the issues contained therein. The defendant cannot be heard to dispute the processes filed by the claimant, which was as a result of the default created by his own inaction in refusing to file their final written address within time. The rules of this court allows me to adopt a procedure which will ensure that justice is done in the matters before me Bearing this in mind I will therefore allow the use of the further address of the claimant filed on the 11/6/2018. On the reply on point of law filed by the defendant counsel I have carefully read through its content, it is very clear that the defendant in his reply on point of law has clearly raised the issue of limitation of action law. The law is trite and it is that limitation of action being a special defence at law must be specifically pleaded by a party to be able to rely on it. In the case of Aldulfus Amadi V. Friday Echendu Amadi  LPELR-4506(CA). The Court of Appeal had this to say; Limitation being a special defence must be specifically pleaded. Order 25 Rule 6(1) of the High Court of Rivers State (civil procedure) Rules 1987 under which the trial or the proceedings in this matter were conducted at the trial court makes it imperative that the defendant intending to rely on any special defence, like ‘Limitation Law’ shall specifically plead the statute. Counsel address at the bar is no substitute for pleading or evidence. The Supreme Court in the Ishola Balogun Ketu & Anor V. Chief Wahab Onikoko  10 SC. 265 at 267-268 Obaseki JSC. Dealt with a similar situation thus, it is cardinal rule of pleadings those specific matters as limitation law must be expressly set out or pleaded in the statement of defence once it is not pleaded the defendant cannot be granted the protection of the law. In this case it is not pleaded and even if it is was applicable the court cannot grant the defendant the benefit of the limitation law contrary to the rules of pleading and the principles of avoidance of surprise. See also the case of Shitta Bey V. Federal Civil Service Commission  1 SC 40. I have gone through the statement of defence of the defendant there is nowhere the limitation law cited in the alleged reply on point of law was pleaded. It therefore ca not be raised in the address of counsel to the defendant at this stage. As for the other content, they do not amount to a reply on point of law. The reply on point of law filed by the defendant on the 14/6/2018 and the response thereto filed by the claimant on the 25/6/2018 are hereby discountenance and would not be considered in this judgment. From the facts and circumstances of this case, the issue for determination is ‘Whether the claimants are employees of the defendant, and if they are, whether the refusal to pay their salaries by the defendant is not a breach of their contract of employment’. The claimants in this suit whom are 91 in number claim that they were employed by the defendant on the 26th February 2002. In proof of their employment status they tendered Exhibit C1 to C71 dated 24/2/2002 and Exhibit C34 to Exhibit C91. The 91 letter of offer of appointment were duely signed by the Executive Chairman of the defendant Mr C. l. Ezeiyoke. CW1 testified that the claimants accepted the offer of appointment via Exhibits CLAPP 1-91, The claimants were subjected to thorough medical examination and were issued with medical certificates which were tendered as Exhibit. Exhibit CMCS1-91. They were all issued with letters of notification of appointment which was tendered as Exhibit CNAPP1-77. He testified that they were posted to various department of the defendant for which they tendered their letter of posting Exhibit CLOP 34-91. CWI testified that they remained in the employ of the defendant since then without any query nor termination nor dismissal whatsoever. In spite of the above facts, the defendant has persistently failed and or neglected to pay the plaintiffs their salaries, allowances and other entitlements as contained in their contract of employment. The defendant continued to give excuses ranging from zero allocation to lack of fund and continued to plead and give promises and assurances to pay the plaintiffs from time to time without any fulfilment whatsoever. This situation continued until the May, 2010 when the defendant is alleged to have used its agents to prevent the plaintiffs from entering their various offices. The claimant testified that despite the subsistence of their employment, the defendant advertised vacancy as contained in Exhibit CALD1 on 20th June 2010 for their position. He testified that they caused their counsel to write to the defendant to demand the payment of their salaries and to stop the breach of the claimants contract of employment via Exhibit CLOD1 on the 19th July 2010, He testified that the letter of demand was ignored and this led to their counsel serving a pre-action notice on the defendant as shown on Exhibit CLOSN1 dated 6th August, 2010. He testified that despite this the defendant continued in its act and this led to their approaching the High Court of Enugu state which by an order issued on the 13th September 2010 restrained the defendant from going ahead with the said interview. Despite the order which was served on the defendant the defendant went ahead to conduct an interview to fill their already occupied offices in the defendant. These pieces of evidence were never contradicted by the defence witness. The claimants’ second witness – Mr. Darman Orji , testified on 24/1/2018 as CW2. The witness was the former Secretary of the defendant Local Government in 2002 when the claimants were employed. The witness, in his evidence, confirmed that the claimants are full employees of the defendant, and that they have not been paid salaries and other entitlements not withstanding that they were working for the Local Government. This evidence was never contradicted by the defendant. The law is that the court is to act on unchallenged evidence as proof of the issue in contention. See UBN Ltd V. Ogbohi 2NWLR (pt 380) 467. Also Kosile V. Folaris (1983) 3NWLR (pt 107) at 1. The evidence adduced by the claimants in this case clearly reveals a valid contract of employment entered into between the claimants and the defendant in this suit. The defence of the defendant to the claims of the claimants in this suit is that the claimants were never employed by the defendant and the defendant never issued any letter of appointment to the claimants and that the claimants names are not in the payroll of the defendant. They however admit that it published vacancy for employment vide public notice No. 003 of 2010: Ref. ICT/215tr/001 after getting the approval of the Governor of Enugu State. Barr. Sullivan I. Chime and also favourable recommendation of the local government service commission, Enugu. This in a nutshell is the state of the defendant’s pleadings In his evidence in chief DW1 Charles Ibokedi who said he is an Assiatnt Administrative staff testifies that there was an embargo on employment of staff including junior staff from 1999 to 2002 by the State Government and as such there can be no employment of junior staff in lgbo Etiti Local Government Council within the period the claimants alleges that they were employed by the defendant council. He went further to say that in this case of the defendant, (sic) there was an embargo on employment of staff including junior staff from 1999 to 2002 by the Enugu State Government and as such there can be no employment of junior staff in Igbo Etiti Local Government Council within the period the claimants alleges that they were employed by the Defendant Council. That the purported 2002 employment/recruitment exercise did not follow due process/correct procedure. Again that the alleged 2002 employment/appointment was not known to the Local Government Service Commission since there was no approval from His Excellency the Governor of Enugu State and there was no evidence to show that the purported 2002 employment/recruitment exercise was done in accordance with the laid down procedure as stipulated by section 35 (3) & (5) of Local Government law cap 109, laws of Enugu State. The witness tendered Exhibits D1, and D2 dated 9/11/2009 and 17/5/2010 respectively, which are the request and reminder for approval to the Governor to recruit junior staff by the defendant. Exhibit D3 and D4 dated 9/7/2010 and 4/8/2010 respectively are the communication of the approval of the Governor to the defendant to recruit junior staff. I have carefully examined these exhibits alongside Exhibit CLROJ1 dated 12/10/2001, it is very clear that Exhibit CLROJ1 predates Exhibits D1, D2, D3, and D4. The said Exhibit CLROJ1 reads; I wish to refer to the above subject and to convey His Excellency approval for the recruitment of 171 non-teaching junior staff made up of 57 clerical/library attendants and 114 security men as submitted by the Education Secretary, Local Government Education Authority of your Local government. The authenticity of the above quoted document was never contradicted by the defendant. This document clearly is authorities for the employment of the claimants which the CW2 confirmed were duly employed when he was the secretary of the council of the defendant. The story of the DW1 that no approval was given for the employment and that due process was not followed is false. It is the position of this court that the mere fact that a subsequent approval for employment was given in Exhibit D1, D2, D3, and D4 which the defendant acting on same conducted interview and subsequently employed another set of junior staff in flagrant disobedience and disregard of the order of Enugu State High court restraining the conduct of another interview on the 14/9/2010 as shown in Exhibit CLC01, Did not in any way affect the employment of the claimants. It is also the finding of this court that there was full compliance with section 60 and 61 of the Local Government Law, CAP. 109, Laws of Enugu State, 2004 and Section 2, paragraph 020207 of the Enugu State Public Service Rules 2014, dealing on Procedure for employment of persons on grade levels 1 to 6 into the Public Service of the State. I also agree with the claimant counsel that by virtue of section 26(2)(b) of the Local Government Law, Cap.109, laws of Enugu State, the Head of Personnel Management of the Local Government is an appointee of the Local Government Service Commission of the state. The HPM of the defendant executed exhibits C 1- 77 and CLPPl – 77 Indicating full approval and confirmation of employment of the claimant by the State LGSC. The conduct of the defendant former chairman Hon. I.G. Ishienyi in disobeying the order of the Enugu State High Court is highly irresponsible of a person occupying the office of the defendant. His irresponsible action caused the present state of confusion seemingly hanging over the employment of the claimants. Most revealing again is the content of Exhibit CLHON the handing over note dated 17/12/2002 where the outgoing chairman of care taker committee Hon Mathias Ozor wrote: Hon. Nwandike Nwodo said in his hand over note that he employed new workers numbering 350 through the Local Government Service Commission dated effectively 1st April 2002. Unfortunately he could not pay them at all before his exit from office. My administration concentrated effort on clearing areas of salaries and so did not have enough money to pay any new employed staff. This testimony coming from a former chairman of the defendant which clearly admits that the defendant was owing the claimants areas of salary, lays to rest any controversy concerning the employment status of the defendant. On the strength of the above state of facts this court hereby holds that the claimants were duly employed by the defendant and failure to pay them their due salaries is a breach of the contract of employment still existing between the claimants and the defendant. The claimants also claim their areas of salaries from 15th April 2002 to August 2008 (for those employed in the personnel department of the defendant) and from February, 2002 to August 2008 (for those employed in the Local Education Authority of the defendant), They also claim areas of allowance from April 20O2 to August 2008: The claimants tendered their letter of employment Exhibits C1 to C71 and Exhibits C34 to C91. Which show the remuneration of the claimants in their respective positions. They also tendered a letter from the office of the head of service of Enugu state dated 9/9/2008 revising upward the basic salary of civil servants in Enugu State, Exhibit CLHOS1. The claimants witness CW1 testified and gave a breakdown of the respective arrears of salary in paragraph 2, 3, 4, and 5 of his witness statement of oath. The evidence was never contradicted. The law is that unchallenged evidence should be acted upon as true and proof of the fact in issue. See the case of Folorunsho & Anor. V. Shalomb (1994) 3 NWLR(Pt.333)413, 433, para B-H Accordingly the claim of the claimants in this suit succeeds in its entirety. Judgment is hereby entered in favour of the claimants against the defendant in the following terms; 1). It is hereby declared that the claimants were duly employed by the defendant and failure to pay them their due salaries is a breach of the contract of employment still subsisting between the claimants and the defendant. 2) The defendant shall immediately pay to the claimants respectively of all the arrears of their allowances from April 2002 to 1st August 2008 at the following rate per claimant: Transport N1, 100.00 per month (b). Meal subsidy –N 500.00 per month (c ) Utility- N300.0O per month (d) Rent subsidy •N40% of the annual basic salary. (e)Leave grant -10% of the annual basic salary 3) The defendant shall immediately pay the sum of N242,900.00 (Two Hundred and Forty-Two Thousand, Nine Hundred Naira) per plaintiff, being the arrears of their minimum gross salary from September 2008 to –December 2010 at the rate of N8,675.00 4) The defendant shall also pay to each of the claimants their gross salary at the rate of N8,675.00 per month per claimant as may be entitled as their salaries and allowances by virtue of their respective grade levels from January 2011 to the date of judgment and thereafter by virtue of their contract of employment as civil servants and in accordance with their terms of employment with the Igbo-Etiti Local Government. 5) The Registrar of this court shall compute the total entitlement of the claimants in a lump sum manner and serve along with the order of judgment in this suit on the defendant within 7 days from the date of this judgment. 6) An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant from interfering with the employment of the claimants is hereby made 7) The defendants shall pay a cost of N200.000 to the claimants 8) The defendant shall comply with the terms of this judgment within 60 days from the date of this judgment Judgment is entered accordingly.