The Claimants instituted this action vide General Form of Complaint dated 5th May 2015 but filed on 8th May 2018. The reliefs sought by the claimants against the Defendant in the complaint are:
The said reply was dated 7th December 2015 but was filed on 11th December 2015. The
reply was accompanied with additional witness statement on oath of the 1st claimant and document marked as 2 a-c.
The claimants’ case is that the termination of their employment on the ground that their services were no longer required is illegal as it is purportedly done in violation of the Human Resources policies and Procedure of the Defendant which the claimants claimed to be the condition of service regulating their employment with the defendant.
The claimants consequently prayed this Court to reinstate them to the employment and order the payment of their outstanding salaries and other emoluments.
At the trial, the claimants called three witnesses and tendered the following documents evidence:
The said final written address was settled by Lekan Olanisebe, Esq., of Lekan Olanisebe & Co.,
Suites 15, 16, & 18 Sura Office Complex, Simpson Street, Lagos State c/o Seal Chambers, Suite 27,
Hilltop Plaza, Beside UBEC, Wuse Zone 4, Abuja. The Claimants’ final written address was dated 9th
of April 2018 and filed on 17th of April 2018. The said claimants’ final written address was settled
by Funmi Falana, (Mrs), of Femi Falana Chambers, 22, Mediterranean Street, Imani Estate, Maitama, Abuja.
The defendant’s reply on point of law to the claimants’ final written address was dated 25th April
2018 but was filed on 26th April 2018.
Counsel for the parties adopted their respective written addresses and the matter was adjourned for judgment. I will now proceed to summarize the submissions made by counsel to the parties in their final written addresses. Counsel for the defendant commenced his written address by stating the brief history of the case. He stated that the claimants’ case was brought in respect of termination of their appointment. He stated that the claimants were involved in certain briquetting operation between 22nd and 26th day of April 2013 and certain incident of unauthorized removal of currency box containing Ten Million Naira (N10, 000, 000.00) did occur during the exercise.
It is the case of the defendant that the claimants failed to report the incident to their respective Line Manager as required under the Human Resources Policies and Procedures guiding the terms of their employments and the conditions of their services to the Defendant Bank. It is the case of the defendant that with the laid down procedures which normally guide such briquetting operations, the defendant Bank would always expect that every briquetting exercise should be conducted without any incident or breach of procedure that could subvert such operations. Having discovered that the briquetting exercise which occurred between 8th to 12th day of April 2014 has suffered very serious lapses or breach of procedures on account of newspapers, instead of currency notes, stuffed in a currency box found during the said briquetting exercise, the defendant constituted a Special Investigation Panel to investigate the remote and immediate causes or factors that led to the said anomaly.
It is the position of the defendant that in the course of the said investigations, more facts emerged that similar things had happened in the past. The defendant further posited that the claimants participated in the Briquetting Operation which held between 22nd and 26th April 2013 and they failed to make any formal report to the Defendant Bank. According to the defendant, the claimants kept mute over the incidence.
The defendant admitted that the claimants were not indicted for the removal of currency or box stuffing of boxes with newspaper, but hold the position that the panel of investigation found that the three (3) Claimants in this suit had cases to answer on the issue of non-reporting. The claimants were issued query to which they responded. Their cases were considered by the defendant’s Central Disciplinary Committee which recommended sanctions to the Defendant Bank’s Management. It was however the Management’s decision that the claimants’ employment as employees of the defendant be terminated.
The claimants were aggrieved by the Defendant Bank’s Management termination of their employment and instituted this action against the defendant to challenge the termination of their employment.
The defendant counsel formulated the following issues for determination thus:
In examining the classes of employer-employee contract in Nigeria Defendant’s Counsel cited the case of P.Z. &
Co. LTD. V. OGEDENGBE (1972) 1 ALL NLR PT.1 P. 202 @ 205-206 where Madarikan, JSC stated that “there are four
classes of employer-employee contract in Nigeria. The first is under common law, where in the absence of a written
contract, each part could abrogate the contract on a week or a month’s notice or, on payment of the wage of a week or
month or whatever was the agreed period of payment of wages. The second class belongs to cases where there is a written
contract of employment between a master and a servant. In such case, the Court has a duty to determine the rights of the
parties under the contract. The third one is where a group of allied employers agreed to conclude a contract of employment
with groups or union of allied employees as it is usually the case in collective bargain employment or agreement.
The fourth class of employment belong to the regimes of statute whereby intervention of statutes, preconditions were
stipulated as to the requirements for appointment and the provisions for removal of appointees from such appointments
expressly contained in statutes”.
It is the position of defendant’s counsel that by the provision of Section 14 (4) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (Establishment) Act, CAP C4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (2004) which provides that “all appointments of official and other employees of the bank shall be only to positions created by the Board”, it is abundantly clear that the positions held by the Claimants whilst in the employment of the Defendant Bank and the Contract of Appointments including the conditions of service as contained in the Human Resources Policies and Procedures Manual (herein after referred to as HRPPM), were all a creation of the Board of the Defendant Bank and not any statute for that matter.
Counsel for the defendant contended, citing the case of OGBAJI v. AREWA TEXTILES PLC (2000) 111 NWLR PT. 678 P. 322 @ 335, that the EXH. CW1C1-2, CW2B1-2 and CW3B1-2 being letters of appointment addressed to the claimants respectively upon their employment with the Defendant Bank and the HRPPM essentially depicted the nature of the claimants’ contract of employment as that determinable by agreement of the parties. Counsel further referred to the cases of SHUAIBU v. UBN PLC (1995) 4 NWLR PT. 388 P. 173 @ P. 180 and FAKUADE v. OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNIVERSITY TEACHING HOSPITAL COMPLEX MANAGEMENT BOARD (1993) 5 NWLR PT. 291 P, 47 @ 63 per Karibi- Whyte, JSC
The defendant’s counsel submitted, relying on the case of BOLAJI V. AKINKUNMI V. ALH. R. OLAREWAJU SADIQ (1997) 8 NWLR PT. 516 P.277@ P. 291, that the onus of proof lies on the claimant who alleged that their contract of employment had statutory flavor.
Counsel submitted that claimants failed to adduce any scintilla of evidence to support their pleadings that their contract of employment was statutory in nature and he urged the Court to resolve this issue against the claimants respectively.
On issue 2, i.e. Having regard to their employment with the Defendant Bank, whether or not the Claimants were bound by the Defendant Bank’s Human Resources Policies and Procedure Manual – (HRPPM)?, counsel submitted that his argument is premised on the policies and procedures which regulated the claimants’ condition of service whilst in the employment of the defendant bank, which becomes relevant in the overall consideration of the terms and conditions of the Claimants’ contract of employment with the defendant bank.
It is counsel’s argument that EXH. CW1J1-7 titled “WARNING INSTRUCTION FOR THE DISPOSAL OF UNFIT BANK NOTES THROUGH BRIQUETTING MACHINE” mentioned by the claimants in their statements on oath as their reasons for holding verbal discussion with the Branch Controller cannot be solely relied on to the exclusion of the HRPPM which regulated the terms of employment of the claimants with the defendant. Hence the need for the Court to resolve the question whether or not the claimants were bound by the defendant bank’s HRPPM.
Counsel argued that EXH. CW1J1-7 titled “WARNING INSTRUCTION FOR THE DISPOSAL OF UNFIT BANK NOTES THROUGH BRIQUETTING MACHINE” merely guides a specific duty assignment which is the briquetting exercise without more, while the HRPPM admitted in evidence as EXH. CWIL1-157 and also EXH. DW1D1-149 is the embodiment of rules and regulations which governed the contract of employment with the Defendant Bank and the claimants were bound by it. Counsel referred to the cases of OSUAGWU v. A.G. ANAMBRA STATE (1993) 4 NWLR PT. 285 P. 13 @ P. 14 and MOBIL v. ASUAH (2001) 16 NWLR PT. 740 P. 723 @ P. 756, in support of his position.See more
The Defendant Counsel further cited the case of CALABAR CEMENT COMPANY LTD. v. DANIEL (1991) 4 NWLR PT.188 P. 750 @ P. 760 where
it was held by Niki Tobi, JCA that “where the terms of contract are clear and unambiguous, the parties cannot move out of it in
search for more favourable terms or greener pastures”.
Counsel argued that S. 14 (4) of the CBN (Establishment) Act, provides that “appointment of employees of the Bank shall only be in respect of positions created by the Bank and on such terms and conditions as may be laid down by the Board”. It is the contention of counsel that the claimants were bound by the terms and conditions laid down by the Board of the Defendant Bank which were embodied in EXH. CWIL1-157 and also EXH. DW1D1-149. He urged this Court to so hold.
On issue 3, i.e., Having regards to the Defendant Bank’s Human Resources Policies and Procedure Manual – (HRPPM) particularly Section 6.2.1, whether the Claimants had the obligations to report or communicate officially to the Defendant on issues or matters of concern or interests to the Defendant Bank such as the incident of currency box removal which occurred at the briquetting exercise in which the Claimants participated?, counsel argued that sequel to the argument that the claimants were bound by HRPPM and EXH. DW1D1-149, it is beyond doubt that effective communication was identified as part of the core values driving the mission, vision and business objectives of the defendant Bank.
It is the contention of the Defendant’s counsel that Chapter 1.4 of the HRPPM has a subheading titled TEAMWORK which expressly provides that “we work and consult together so as to achieve set goals. Effective team work demands mutual trust and honest feedback at all levels, open communications, freedom of expression without fear of reprisal and respect for each other, no matter how junior or senior”. Counsel further referred to Chapter 6.2 of the HRPPM under the Heading titled “COMMUNICATION WITH EMPLOYEES” at page 43 of the Manual which provides that “the Bank recognizes the need for an effective communication with its employees. A wide variety of information needs to be disseminated and employees at all levels also receive information on general issues from outside the Bank. Therefore it is of particular importance that employee’s communication with the Bank on matters of Bank business and their employment should be effective. In CBN, there exist both formal and informal channels of communication”. Counsel further refer the court to Sub-paragraph 22.214.171.124 of the HRPPM on the classes of formal and informal channels of communication available to employees of the Defendant Bank.
It is the position of the defendant’s counsel that the claimant owed obligations to communicate with the defendant on matters of its business and to disseminate information on issues of particular importance as may come to the awareness of the claimant, particularly on their discovery of the incident of unauthourized removal of currency box containing N10 Million in the briquetting operation in which they participated between 22nd and 26th day of April 2013. Counsel urged the Court resolve this issue in favour of the defendant and hold that the Claimants had the obligations to communicate with the Defendant Bank formally and effectively
On issue 4, i.e. Having regards to the totality of evidence adduced to the Court in this suit, whether or not the claimants indeed discharged their obligation to the Defendant Bank in respect of the incident arising from the briquetting operation in which the Claimants were involved?, it is the contention of the defendant’s counsel that the claimants failed to discharge their obligations as expected of them and therefore failed to exercise good discretion or take initiative to enhance or ensure effective communication with the defendant on the incident of the briquetting operation. He referred to Special Investigation Panel’s report admitted in evidence as EXH. CW1M1-205 particularly pages 33,34,35,43,44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49 and 50, also pages 164, 165, 166, 167, 168, 171, 172, 174, 175 and 176 where it was found by the Panel that all the claimants in this suit had case to answer.
It is the submission of counsel that the oral testimony of each of the claimants substantially corroborated the findings of the Special Investigation Panel constituted by the defendant Bank. Counsel urged this Court to resolve this issue in favour of the defendant.
On issue 5, i.e. Having regards to the Defendant Bank’s Disciplinary Procedures leading to the termination of the Claimants’ employment respectively, whether or not the termination of the claimants’ employment was unlawful?, counsel submitted that an inquiry as to the illegality or otherwise of an employer’s action in terminating the appointment of his employee is one to be conducted by looking into the contract of employment between the parties thereto.
Citing the case of UBN LTD. V. OGHIAH (1995)2 NWLR PT. 380 P. 647 @ 664, counsel reiterate his earlier argument that the claimants’ employment with the defendant bank were not statute-based and as such does not have any statutory flavor. It is the contention of the defendant’s counsel that the claimants’ employments were such there were determinable on agreement of parties simpliciter. Counsel further refer to the case of UBN LTD V. OGHIAH (SURA).See more
Counsel submitted that the claimants were afforded fair hearing and there was no defect complained of by the claimants in the
Disciplinary Procedures leading to the Claimants being sanctioned, although the claimants have alleged that the termination of
their employment is illegal and irregular. Counsel argued that the onus of proof lie on the claimants who claimed that termination
of their appointment is illegal and irregular. Counsel cited the case of CALABAR CEMENT COMPANY LTD. V. DANIEL (SUPRA) where it was
held per NIKI TOBI, JCA that “the onus is on the party alleging wrongful dismissal or termination of appointment to so prove. And
he has to discharge the onus by relying on the contract of service and the notice of wrongful dismissal or termination”.
Counsel further submitted that an employer has the power to discipline its erring staff. The case of OBOT V. CBN (1993) 8 NWLR PT. 310 P. 140 was cited to support the above position. Counsel reiterated the defendant’s position to stand by its decision to terminate the appointment of the claimants accordingly.
Citing the case of NNPC V. IDONIBOYE-OBU (SUPRA) it is the contention of the defendant’s counsel that an employer is under no obligation to cite reasons for termination of appointment of his employees. He posited that the defendant bank complied substantially with the HRPPM which regulated the claimants’ terms and conditions of service with the defendant. Counsel referred to Chapter 126.96.36.199. Paragraph B (2) of the HRPPM titled “MISCONDUCT COULD LEAD TO TERMINATION OF APPOINTMENT”.
It is further submitted by counsel that item V of the said paragraph B (2) stipulates that “failure to meet an acceptable standard of efficiency and productivity” is misconduct.
It is the position of counsel that Chapter 188.8.131.52 of the HRPPM document under a Sub-heading titled “Termination of Appointment” gives two different circumstances under which the rule as to termination of appointment may be invoked. The first circumstance is where a termination could occur as a final step in a chain of disciplinary actions arising from consistently unsatisfactory conduct or poor performance or misconduct. The second circumstance relates to case of “serious misconduct for which in the opinion of the Bank, instant dismissal is not appropriate”.
Counsel contended that it is within the discretion of the Bank to apply rule as to termination of appointment of an employee depending on the applicability of any of those circumstances illustrated above to the facts of every case which may inform the taking of such decision.
It is the position of defendant’s counsel that in the light of the above, the decision of the defendant to terminate the appointment of the claimants was not illegal nor irregular and that the defendant’s action was in conformity with the extant policies and procedures laid down by the Board of the Defendant Bank.
Relying on the decision in LAYODE V. PANALPINA WORLD TRANSPORT (NIG.) LTD (1996) 6 NWLR PT. 456 P. 544 @ P. 555, Counsel posited that there was nothing arbitrary, illegal or irregular in the termination of claimants’ appointments. Counsel prayed this court to resolve this issue in favour of the defendant.
On issue 6, i.e. Whether or not the claimants discharge the onus of proof in respect of the allegations that the termination of their appointment was illegal and irregular and a violation of defendant’s enabling statute as to justify the reliefs sought by the claimants?, counsel submitted that having regard to the totality of evidence adduced in this proceeding, the claimants had failed to cite any law or statute or any evidence whatsoever in proof of their allegations against the defendant bank.
Counsel cited the case of CALABAR CEMENT COMPANY LTD V. DANIEL (SUPRA) and argued that the claimants who had the onus of proof in this regard had failed woefully to discharge same and as such all the reliefs sought by the Claimants must fail.See more
In conclusion, counsel urged this court to dismiss all the reliefs sought by the Claimants in this suit in their entirety.
The claimants’ counsel started his written address by restating the fact that the claimants were employees of the defendant until the termination of their appointment by the defendant on the ground that their services were no longer required. It is the position of the claimants’ counsel that EXH. CWIL was the condition of service governing the claimants’ employment at all material time.
Counsel further stated that although the claimants participated in the briquetting operation between 22nd -26 April 2013 where one Fatai Olowoeko attempted to steal a box of money but the claimants resisted same by reporting same to the branch controller in charge of the activity of the defendant at its Ibadan branch. It is the position of the claimant that the Disciplinary committee set up by the defendant in 2015 did not comply with the provisions of Paragraph 6.4.3 of the HRPPM before the termination of the appointment of the claimants on 10th February 2015. Claimants counsel recap the provisions of the above mentioned paragraph thus:
“No disciplinary action shall be taken against an employee without an investigation to establish the fact in the course of which
i. The employee shall always be given fair hearing
ii. The employee shall be informed of the decision taken except in the case of verbal warning the advice shall be given to him/her in writing.
The claimants instituted this suit to challenge the termination of their employments by the defendant on the ground that their services were no longer required.
Counsel to the claimants distilled two issues for determination thus:
1. Whether the termination of the Claimants’ employment on the ground that their services “were no longer required” is not a nullity as it is a violation of the Human Resources Policies and Procedures of the Defendant. 2. Whether the Claimants are not entitled to be reinstated into the Services of the defendant and their outstanding salaries and allowances paid to them their employment having been unlawfully terminated.
On issue 1, i.e., Whether the termination of the Claimants’ employment on the ground that their services “were no longer required” is not a nullity as it is a violation of the Human Resources Policies and Procedures of the Defendant, counsel argued that an organization being created by a statute, cannot act except within and under the powers conferred on it by relevant statute, the Central Bank Act, in this instant.
Counsel cited the case of CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA & ANOR. V. MRS AGNES M. IGWILLO (2007) LPELR 835 (SC) where the Supreme Court had held that “an employment is said to have statutory flavor when the appointment is protected by statute or laid down regulation made to govern the procedure for employment and discipline of an employee” to support his argument that the employment of the claimants are statutorily flavoured.
Counsel argued that from the evidence placed before the Court it is clear that the Claimants’ employment are regulated by the Central Bank Act and EXH. CWIL1-157 made pursuant to Section 14 (4) of the Central Bank Act which provides that “appointment of employees of the Bank shall only be in respect of positions created by the Bank and on such terms and conditions as may be laid down by the Board”. Counsel enjoined this court to hold that the employment of the Claimants is one with statutory flavor.See more
Counsel further posited that paragraph 184.108.40.206 of the HRPPM provides the circumstances when employment of a staff in the defendant Bank can be terminated thus:
(1). “the final step in a chain of disciplinary actions arising from consistently unsatisfactory conduct or poor performance or misconduct. Serious misconduct for which in the opinion of the Bank, instant dismissal is not applicable.
Authority for termination of appointment- the Head of a department/outstation shall review any recommendation of Department/Branch disciplinary Committee for termination of appointment of any employee in his/her department/outstation. He/she shall forward his/her review together with the report of the Head, Human Resources who shall make the appropriate recommendation.
The Committee of Governors shall approve the dismissal/termination of appointment of all category of employee but ratified by the Board in case of the executive staff”.
It is counsel’s argument that from the above position, termination of the appointment of the claimants can only be the final step in the disciplinary action and any termination of employment outside those listed under Paragraph 220.127.116.11 of the HRPPM would be a gross violation of the defendant’s condition of service. Counsel placed reliance on EXHs. CWIK, CW2F, CE3G paragraph 20 of the statement on oath of the defendant’s only witness where it was deposed that the only reason for the termination of the claimants’ appointment was on the ground that the claimants’ appointment with the defendants “were no longer required”.
Counsel submitted that by the admission of the defendant and the documentary evidence before the Court, it is clear that the only reason why the appointment of the claimants were terminated was because their services were no longer required.
Counsel posited that the position of law is clear that termination of the appointment of the claimants, which enjoys statutory flavor, can only be justified if it is done in strict compliance with the condition of Service governing the contract of employment. Counsel cited the cases of UNION BANK OF NIGERIA LTD V. OGBOH (1995) 2 NWLR PT. 380 P. 647 @ 664 Per Belgore JSC and BALOGUN V. UNIVERSITY OF ABUJA (2003) 13 NWLR PT. 783 P.41 to support the above position. It is counsel position that on the strength of the above cited authorities an order of specific performance or reinstatement would normally be made by court in the circumstance of this case.
Counsel reiterated the fact that Paragraph 18.104.22.168 of the HRPPM is clear as to how and when the claimants’ employment can be terminated. He therefore submitted that terminating the claimants’ appointment on the ground that the “service are no longer required” is alien to the above provision.
Learned claimants’ counsel argued that ordinary meaning of words in a statute should be ascribed to it. He cited the case of A.G. ONDO STATE V. A. G. EKITI STATE (2001) 17 NWLR PT. 743 P. 706, where it was held by Karibi-Whyte, JSC, that “it is well-established and the cardinal principle of interpretation of statute that where the ordinary meaning of the words used in a provision are clear and unambiguous, effect must be given to the words without resorting to any extrinsic aid. See Awolowo V. Shagari (2001) FWLR PT. 73 P. 53,----. The solemn and sacred duty of the Court is to interpret the words used in the Section by legislator and give to them their intended meaning and effect" to support his position.
Counsel prayed the court to hold that the termination of the claimants’ employment by the defendant for service no longer required is an action in nullity. Counsel cited the case of MACFOY v. UAC (1962) A.C. 152, to support his argument.
Counsel for the Claimants submitted that it is an evidence before this Court that the disciplinary proceeding against the claimants were never conducted in line with paragraph 6.4.3 of the HRPPM which mandated the defendant to communicate in writing the decision taken.
The said paragraph provided thus:
a. No disciplinary action shall be taken against an employee without an investigation to establish the facts in the course of which:
i. The employee shall always be given fair hearing
ii. The employee shall be informed of any decision taken except in the case of verbal warning; the advice shall be given to him/her in writing.
It is the position of claimants’ counsel that the defendant never informed the Claimant of its decision on the disciplinary action. He posited that the only available to the claimant is EXH. CWIN (which was only issued to the claimants counsel as defence to the claimants’ case) which made recommendations on the claimants at pages 84, 87, and 91 as follows:
“In view of the above, the committee recommends that Mr. Daciya L.D. (ID. No. 19972) Senior Supervisor, be issued with Human Resources letter of warning with full effects”.
“In view of the above, the committee recommends that Mr. A. Y. Akagwu (ID. No. 21104) Assistant Manager, be issued with Human Resources letter of warning with partial effects”.
“In view of the above, the committee recommends that Mr. Idris, A (ID. No. 19887) Assistant Manager, be issued with Human Resources letter of warning with partial effects”.
It is claimants’ counsel argument that there is no evidence before this Honourable Court to contradict the above recommendation and as such the Human Resources of the defendant cannot act otherwise. He further argued that by virtue of paragraph 22.214.171.124 of HRPPM any recommendation made by the Disciplinary committee SHALL be reviewed by the Head of Department who shall forward his/her review with the report to the Head, Human Resources who shall make appropriate recommendation.See more
Counsel submitted that the word “shall” used connotes an obligation on the defendant in this respect. Counsel cited the cases of OYIDI V. STATE (2005) 27 WRN P.
1 to support his position. He argued that there is no evidence before the Court to show that the claimants were put on notice before the termination of their employment.
Counsel argued that assuming without conceding that the termination of the claimants’ employment was for discipline, the defendant has failed to comply with the mandatory procedure envisaged by the HRPPM regulating the claimants’ employment and as such the termination of the claimant’s appointment is illegal, void and of no effect as it is done in gross violation of law regulating employment in the defendant Bank.
It is counsel’s position that the claimants have satisfactorily discharged the onus to prove the condition of service regulating the employment and how same was breached by the defendant. He further posited that the duty to justify the reason for the termination of the claimants’ employment is by law placed on the defendant who must justify that same was done in accordance with the condition of service, which duty the defendant have allegedly failed to discharge. The claimants’ counsel is of the view that the defendant has not tendered before this Court evidence to justify the termination of the Claimants’ employment and is therefore deemed to have admitted all the evidences adduce by the claimants in support of their cases.
Learned claimants’ counsel submitted that the claimants’ employment cannot be terminated on the ground that their services are no longer required by the defendant. He therefore urge this Court to hold that the letter of appointment of employment of the claimants dated 10th February 2015 is illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
On issue 2, i.e. Whether the Claimants are not entitled to be reinstated into the Services of the defendant and their outstanding salaries and allowances paid to them their employment having been unlawfully terminated, counsel adopted all his arguments in support of issue 1 above and further submitted that the right to be reinstated is a right that follows consequently on a declaration that the termination was unlawful, null and void. Counsel referred to the cases of OMIDIORA V. FCSC (2012) 1 NILR VOL. 1; BALOGUN V. UNIVERSITY OF ABUJA (2003) 13 NWLR PT. 783 and PRINCIPLE BASSEY V. A.G. AKWA IBOM STATE & ORS (2016) LPELR – 41244 (CA) to support his argument.
Counsel submitted that having shown credible, uncontroverted and unimpeachable evidences that the termination of the employment of the claimants on the ground that their service where no longer required, and having moved this Honourable Court to declare illegal the termination of the claimants’ employment, the need to return to status quo ante bellum by which the claimants are to enjoy all benefit as bonafide staff of the Defendant, is most apposite and appropriate. He urged this Court to so hold and resolve this issue in the claimants favour.
In the defendant’s counsel reply of law to issues raised in the claimants’ written address, he submitted thus:
1. That the contract of employment relied on by the claimants was not regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria Act (2007) and EXH. CWIL1-157 made pursuant to S. 14 (4) of CBN Act. He referred to Ss. 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the CBN Act which, in the view of the defendant’s counsel, stated clearly the categories of staffs whose appointment, qualifications for appointment, remuneration, condition of service, including disqualification and cessation of appointments, among other things were regulated by the relevant statute. Counsel submitted that the claimants were not part of the categories of staff covered by these sections of the CBN Act referred to above.
Counsel further argued that the defendant’s exercise of its powers pursuant to S.14 (4) of its enabling Act in creating other positions under which the Claimants secured appointments with the defendant was not a law making or statutory promulgation but an administrative decision taken in pursuance of S. 6 (1) & (3) of the CBN Act 2007 for purposes of administration of the affairs and business of the defendant Bank.
Learned Defendant Counsel therefore argued that the defendant is at liberty to create appointment of employees into positions (such as those positions once held by the claimants in the defendant’s employment), as may be considered necessary or expedient for the purposes of achieving its objectives. He posited that the defendant’s enabling Act did not contain any provision whatsoever, for any position or offices into which the claimants were appointed and the Act did not also contain any provisions for qualifications or conditions of Service of employment for the claimants in any way whatsoever.
Counsel further argued that the employment of the claimants were entirely based on their respective Letter of Provisional Appointment (EXHs. CW1C- CW1C1, CW1D, CW2B1- CW2B2, CW3B1-CW3B2, CW3C) and their respective Letter of Confirmation of appointment without more. He argued that the HRPPM was a separate and independent document which generally defines the code of conduct for all other categories of defendant Bank’s staff whose appointment were not regulated by the enabling statute.
Counsel submitted that the HRPPM is a creation of the Board of the Defendant Bank and not the creation of the CBN Act itself. He posited that the HRPPM did not constitute a schedule or any subsidiary legislation or an addendum to the CBN Act 2007. He posited that the eloquence of counsel cannot add to the provision or intendment of a statute any element or feature not forming part of the substantive law.
He urged this Court to discountenance the arguments and submissions of the Claimants’ counsel in this respect.
On the above position of defendant’s counsel, he commend to the Court the cases of OGBAJI V. AREWA TEXTILES PLC (2000) 11 NWLR PT. 678. P. 322 @ 335, FAKUADE V. OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNIVERSITY TEACHING HOSPITAL COMPLEX MANAGEMENT BOARD (1993) 5 NWLR PT. 291 P. 47 @ 63 and urged this Court to follow the law by upholding the same trite position and consequently resolve this issue against the claimants in this suit that the claimants’ employment whilst it lasted did not enjoy any statutory flavor. He further argued that all the exhibits relevant to the claimants’ contract of employment admitted in this proceedings did not contain any reference to any law or statute pursuant to which the claimants were employed.
2. Learned Defendant’s counsel submitted, on the issue that the claimants’ appointments were terminated for “services no longer required”, that the law is trite that an employer is under no obligation to cite any reason for terminating the appointment of his employee. Counsel cited the cases of NNPC V. IDONIBOYE-OBU (1996) 1 NWLR PT. 427 P. 655 @ 671-672 and UBN LTD V. OGBIAH (1995)2 NWLR PT. 380 P. 647 @ 664 to buttress his argument.
Counsel submitted that the only sets of documents relating to the contract of employment under which the Claimants severally endorsed their acceptance to be bound in servant and master relationships with the defendant Bank were those documents admitted in evidence in this proceedings, which are EXHs. CW1C- CW1C1, CW1D, CW2B1- CW2B2, CW3B1-CW3B2, CW3C, without more. He therefore submitted that the claimants’ appointments were rightly terminated accordingly.
Counsel further argued that the heavy weather made by the claimants’ counsel of the claimants’ appointment being terminated based on the contents of EXHs. CW1K, CW2F and CW3G were misconceived and misplaced on the ground that the letters of Termination of Appointment issued to all the Claimants respectively were very clear and unambiguous even from the subject matter captioned, which was a restatement of the Defendant Bank’s position and which connotes with all intents and purposes that the services of the employees concerned were no longer required.
Counsel posited that the decision of the defendant was not arbitrary as same was wholly supported by the defendant’s own set rules or policy guidelines under S. 126.96.36.199. (ii). He further posited that the claimants in their oral testimony in Court admitted that they did not make formal report of the incident of N10 Million theft at the briquetting exercise in which they participated as team members. He therefore submitted, citing the cases of BELLO V. FARMERS SUPPLY COMP. LTD (1998)10 NWLR PT. 568 P. 64 and ADESOLA V. ABIDOYE (2001) 2 WRN P. 39 @ P. 60, that a fact admitted requires no further proof.See more
Counsel argued that contrary to arguments of counsel, all the evidence available to the Court in this proceeding manifestly established the salient fact that fair hearing was
fully accorded the claimants all through the various stages of the disciplinary procedure. He further cited Ss. 6 (1), (2), (3)(f) and 7 of the Central Bank Act as applicable
provisions and same does not confer any authority on Disciplinary Committee as to make its findings or recommendations final and conclusive.
Learned defendant’s counsel posited further that the decision of the Board of the Defendant Bank to terminate the Claimants’ appointment was validly taken both within the ambit of the HRPPM. He cited S. 51 of the CBN Act to support his assertion that whatever decision taken by the Board of the Defendant Bank with respect to the termination of the Claimants’ appointment was for the good order and management of the Defendant Bank.
3. On the issue as to whether or not the Claimants are entitled to be reinstated, the defendant counsel submitted that the question to consider is what remedy is available to the claimants who alleges wrongful termination of his appointment. He submitted that the remedy available to any employee, like the claimants in this instance, is award of damages and not reinstatement. He cited the cases of JIRGBAGH V. UBN PLC (2001) 2 NWLR PT. 696 P. 11 @ P. 30 to support his argument. Citing the case of NNPC V. IDONIBOYE-OBU (SUPRA), counsel submitted no court will impose a servant on an unwilling master.
Defendant’s counsel cited the case of COLLEGE OF MEDICINE V. ADEGBITE (1973) 5 SC P.149 to support his position that where an employee alleges wrongful termination of his appointment, the onus of proof rests on the employee who so alleges. It is therefore the position of the defendant’s counsel that the claimants had not shown by any scintilla of evidence in whatever way or manner in which their appointments were wrongfully or unlawfully terminated as to entitle them to any relief or remedy being claimed in their action before this Court.
In conclusion counsel urged this court to disregard and dismiss the Claimants’ action in its entirety on the ground that the claimants’ suit is essentially unmeritorious.
I have carefully considered all the processes filed in this case. I have also given adequate thoughts to the arguments canvassed in this case as well as statutory and judicial authorities to which the attention of this Honourable Court have been drawn. I will at this juncture proceed to determine the substance of the instant suit. In determining this suit I will adopt, the two (2) issues formulated for determination by the claimant’s counsel in the written address filed on behalf of the claimant.
It is in view of all of the above that I resolve the first issue distilled for determination above against the claimants and I so hold.
Hon. Justice B. A. Adejumo, OFR
National Industrial Court of Nigeria
The claimant in this suit commenced this action vide a General Form of Complaint dated 12th August 2013. The said complaint was filed on the same date. The reliefs sought by the Claimant against the Defendants are:
Alternatively, payment of all the claimant’s entire salaries with all other entitlements accruable
to him from the date of his unlawful dismissal up to March 2026, being the date he will be due for his statutory retirement.
In company of the complaint is the Claimant’s Statement of fact, Witness Statement on Oath, the Claimant’s list of
documents to be relied on at the hearing of the case and list of witnesses to be called in prove of his case.
The 1st and 2nd defendants were never present throughout the pendency of this case and were not represented by counsel. The 3rd and 4th defendants’ statement of defence was dated 10th October 2013 and was filed on the same date. The Statement of defence was however not accompanied with any witness statement on oath, list of witnesses, list of documents to be relied on by the defence and/or any other document(s), contrary to the provisions of Order 30 Rules 2 (1) (a-e) of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (Civil Procedure) Rules 2017.
Claimant called four (4) witnesses in proof of his case and tendered series of documents which were admitted in evidence and were accordingly marked as exhibits. The 3rd and 4th defendants did not cross examine the 4th witness, i.e. CW4, called by the claimant in prove of his case due to 3rd and 4th defendants’ counsel continued failure to attend court after the CW4 gave his evidence in chief. On the application of the claimant’s counsel, cross examination of CW4 was foreclosed. In view of continued absence of the 3rd and 4th defendants and their counsel from court, the defence of the defendants were also foreclosed and the parties were ordered to file their respective final written addresses.
The claimant’s final written address was dated and filed on 17th November 2017. The said final written address was settled by Abdulfatai A. Mohammed, Esq. Time was extended for the 3rd and 4th defendants to file their final written address. The said 3rd and 4th defendants’ final written address was dated 5th January 2018. The 3rd and 4th defendants’ final written address was settled by D. O. Tarfa (Mrs), a counsel in the chambers of the Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federation.
Counsel for the parties adopted their respective written addresses and the matter was adjourned for judgment. I will now proceed to summarize the submissions made by counsel to the parties in their final written addresses.
Before I proceed, it is pertinent for me to mention that this matter was adjourned for Judgment on 10/01/2018, after final written addresses of the parties were adopted. I am not oblivious of the provisions of S.294 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which mandates that decisions in a case is to be delivered within Ninety (90) days after the conclusion of evidence and final address. Delivering this judgment today is obviously outside the provision of the constitution as stated above. It is therefore important for me to draw the attention of parties to this fact and to reiterate that not delivering this Judgment within the time prescribed by law is due to my engagements at the NJC and FJSC, of which I am a member, and other important administrative duties from the time the matter was adjourned for judgment till the time the court went on vacation after which I had to travel to Canada to attend a conference between late April and early May.
Let me now review the submissions of counsel in their respective written addresses. I will start with the written address filed by the Claimant.
Counsel for the claimant commenced his written address by stating the brief history of the claimant’s case. He stated that the claimant was employed through enlistment to the Nigeria Police by the 1st Defendant on the 1st March 1991 and he rose through the ranks to the rank of an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) on the 26th June 2004. The claimant was later nominated to undergo ASP-DSP Promotion Course in 2011 at Staff College Jos, which the claimant attended and passed but 1st -3rd defendants punitively refused and neglected to promote him as a punishment for an alleged disciplinary action against him based on allegation of extortion and corruption levelled against “unnamed” officials of the Advance Trainning Wing of the Nigeria Police College, where the claimant was working from 17th September 2009 to 15th March 2013. Claimant’s counsel referred to Exhibits CW4C- CW4C10, CW4B12-CW4B17 and CW4D-CW4D27 as relevant documents in this respect.
According to the claimant, the said allegation was contained in an anonymous text message received from faceless petitioner by the then IGP Hafiz Ringim, alleging extortion from the course participants in the “present CPL-SGT Promotion Course in the PCI”. The then IGP forwarded the text message to CP Abdullahi Magaji Rtd, the then Commandant of Police College Ikeja, Lagos.
The claimant alleged that the Commandant of Police College Ikeja, conducted a discreet investigation which outcome did not indict the claimant. Claimant counsel referred to paraagraphs 22-29 of the claimant’s statement of fact and Exhibits CW4DE5 and CW4DE18-CW4DE20 i.e statements made by some course participants who denied being extorted.See more
It is the claimant’s position that despite that no-complicity was established against him and other members of Staff by the Commandant,
one ACP Noah Adesoyin and CSP Emmanuel Ighodalo of Lagos State Police Command invited the claimant with some few officers from the Police
College Ikeja, to make statements in the course of which investigation the investigating team refused to disclose to the claimant what
evidence it had against the claimant and neither did the team produce the witnesses against the claimant despite repeated request from the claimant.
It is the claimant’s position that the PW1 who supplied most of the material by which the college officials were alleged to have extorted course participants was not allowed to make statement during investigation despite the PW1’s willingness to so do. The claimant further alleged that during his trial, the Force Disciplinary Committee refused to disclose to the claimant what evidence it had against the claimant neither did it produce any witness against the claimant despite the claimant’s repeated request that they be produced for his cross-examination.
According to the claimant, despite his denial of commission of any crime, he was transferred out of the Police College and the 3rd defendant withheld his promotion to the rank of a DSP when the promotion of his colleagues was released with effect from December 2011. The claimant was further issued a query for serious misconduct and a Force Disciplinary Committee was set up by the 3rd defendant but his request to call certain persons to testify for him in the matter was declined. The claimant was eventually dismissed from service.
The claimant’s counsel formulated the following issues for determination thus:
He submitted further that it is a firm position of law that a public servant who is in pensionable Cadre of the Federal Government
Service or who is employed under statute enjoys statutory flavor. Counsel cited the cases of CBN & ANOR. V. IGWILO (2007) 11 SCM 55
@ 69-70, OLANIYAN V. UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS (1985) 2 NWLR PT. 599, OGUNLEKE V. NATIONAL STEEL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (1992) NWLR 128,
IMOLOAME V. WAEC (1992) NWLR PT, 268 @ 383 to support his argument on this issue.
Claimant’s counsel posited that from the totality of evidence before the court, it is not in dispute that the Claimant was a Police Officer who had risen to the Rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police and had indeed successfully attended Deputy Superintendent of Police Promotion Course and expected to be promoted alongside his mates but was denied the promotion as a result of this allegation. Counsel referred to paraagraphs 2,5,6,7, 8, 9, 10, 21, 22, 31, 36,38, 41, 42,43,44,45, 46, 47, 48, 61, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 73, 74, 75, 76, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93 of the claimant’s statement of facts. Counsel contended that the fact that the claimant was an employee of the 1st defendant was not in contention. He referred to paraagraphs 1,2,5,7,9, 12 & 14 of the Statement of defence of the 3rd and 4th defendants where in that fact was admitted by the defendants.
Claimant’s counsel further referred to Exhibits CW4D35, CWDB1-CW4B5, CW4B6-CW4B8 and Pension Act, Police Acts and Regulations CAP P19 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (2004), Public Service Rules (2009) and other authorities to buttress his argument in respect of this issue.
Counsel argued that in view of all the above facts and cited laws, the defendants has no power to dispense with his service unless by strict adherence to the provisions of Chapter III of the Public Service Rules. Counsel further cited the cases of EPEROKUN V. UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS (1986) 4 NWLR PT. 34 P. 162. SHITTA-BAY V. FRSC (1981)1 SC P. 40., ADENIYI V. GOVERNING COUNCIL OF YABA COLLEGE OF TECHNOLOGY (1993) 6 NWLR PT. 300 P. 426 to support his argument.See more
Counsel submitted that the claimant’s employment with the defendants enjoy statutory flavour to warrant his employer observing and complying with
the relevant Rules, Statutes and Regulations laid down by law before an effectual termination of the claimant’s employment can effectively take place
and he urged this Honourable Court to so hold.
On issue 2, i.e. whether the procedure and process adopted by the defendants for termination of the claimant’s appointment was not wrongful, illegal, ineffectual and unconstitutional?, claimant’s counsel submitted that the procedure and process adopted by the defendants in the determination of the employment of the claimant was wrongful, illegal and in total contravention of the provisions of the statute regulating his employment.
Counsel cited the case of BAMGBOYE V. UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN (1990)10 NWLR PT. 622 P. 290 which he argued to be in tandem with the statutory provisions contained in Chapter III of the Public Service Rules (2009) and more particularly Rules 030302-030307 which expressly laid out the proper procedure to adopt before the claimant’s employment/appointment could be terminated. Claimant’s counsel argued that Rule 030302 of the Public Service Rules (2009) expects the defendants to act administratively and not executively i.e. by first issuing a query, giving details of Claimant’s unsatisfactory behavior and called upon him to submit within a reasonable time such written representation he may wish to make to exculpate himself from disciplinary action and where the officer has not exculpated himself and deserves some punishment, then Rule 030304 shall apply.
Counsel cited S.10 (1) of the Interpretation Act CAP I. 23 Laws of the Federation 2004 and argued, among other things, that where the law provides for a form or manner/procedures for doing an act, that form, manner and procedure must be strictly followed because it was a duty statutorily imposed on the defendants. Counsel urged the court to hold that the manner and procedure of issuing the query with its content and setting up of the Disciplinary Committee resides only in the 1st defendant which said power it cannot abdicate to the 3rd Defendant. He further contended that even whe21re it was the 1st defendant that set up the Board of inquiry, Rule 030307 paraagraphs VI and VII must be complied with.
Claimant’s counsel therefore submitted that the procedure adopted by the defendants in terminating the claimant’s appointment was wrongful, illegal, ineffectual and unconstitutional and that the claimant was not given fair hearing at his trial. Counsel therefore urged this Court to so hold.
On issue 3, i.e. whether the claimant’s right to fair hearing guaranteed under the Constitution and relevant Statute, Regulation and Rules was not breached by the defendants’ conduct in the termination of Claimant’s employment, counsel argued that the nature of fair hearing to be observed in the determination of the claimant’s rights concerning his employment is entrenched in Section 36 (1) of the 1999 Constitution which encompasses the twin Pillars of Justice, Viz; Audi alteram Parten and Nemo Judex in causa sua.
Counsel argued that the claimant, in order to prove that he was denied fair hearing, has vividly described how the defendants showed bias against him which resulted into a miscarriage of Justice. He submitted that it is trite law that absence of fair hearing will vitiate a proceeding however well conducted. He therefore submitted that a party whose employment is to be terminated must be given fair hearing as failure to do so will render the termination null and void. Counsel cited the cases of NEWSWATCH V. IBRAHIM ATTAH (2006) 6 SCM 134, A.G. RIVERS STATE V. UDEH & ANOR 12 (PT. 1) SCM 72 to support his argument.
Counsel submitted that a claimant’s right to fair hearing guaranteed under the Constitution, relevant Statute, Regulation and Rules was indeed breached by the defendants’ conduct in the termination of claimant’s employment. Counsel urged this court to so hold.
On issue 4, i.e. whether the setting up of Force Disciplinary Committee by the 3rd defendant to try the claimant was not ultra vires the 3rd defendant’s power and therefore unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional?, it is the contention of claimant counsel that the 3rd defendant is not empowered to set up a Board of Inquiry as was the case in this suit as the power to appoint a Board of Inquiry is vested in the Commission. Counsel argued further that the letter terminating the appointment of the claimant was issued by the 3rd defendant and no letter from the 1st defendant was ever served on the claimant.
Counsel submitted that the totality of the above is that the 3rd defendant was a judge in its own cause who by his bias on the matter went beyond its power under Chapter III of the Public Service Rules to set up the Board.
Counsel submitted that it was ultra vires the power of the 3rd defendant to set up Force Disciplinary Committee to try the claimant and he urged this Court to so hold.
On issue 5, i.e. whether the punitive transfer of the claimant from Police College Ikeja, withholding of the claimant’s promotion to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police along with his Course mates whose promotion took effect from 14th December 2011 after a successful performance in ASP-DSP Promotion Course and his eventual dismissal from the Force as a result of same allegation does not constitute double jeopardy?, Counsel cited the case of BERNARD OKUEBOR V. THE POLICE COUNCIL & ORS (2003) NSCQLR Vol. 14 @ 462 in support of his argument that the trite position of law is that where a first punishment is given to a claimant and the defendants considered it too little and went ahead to add another punishment by giving the claimant the second and most serious one of dismissal, that would amount to malice.See more
Counsel enumerated what he considered as series of punishment meted out to the claimant based on the same allegation and submitted
that the punitive transfer of the claimant from the Police College Ikeja, withholding of the claimant promotion to the rank of a DSP
alongside his mates whose promotion took effect from 14th December 2011 after a successful performance in the ASP-DSP Promotion Course
and eventual dismissal from the Force as a result of same allegation did not constitute double jeopardy, and he urged the Court to so hold.
On issue 6 i.e., whether the claimant is not entitled to the reliefs claimed?, citing the case of OKOYE & ORS V. NWANKWO (2014) 10 SCM P.196 @ 216, counsel argued that the claimant has successfully discharged the burden placed on him by law to enable this court grant all the reliefs he prayed for in this suit.
In conclusion, counsel prayed this Court to grant all the reliefs of the claimant as contained the suit.
The 3rd and 4th defendants in their written addresses distilled 3 issues for determination thus:
1. Whether the plaintiff has proved his case against the 4th defendant in this Suit?.
2. Whether from the totality of the evidence before this Honourable Court, the plaintiff has proved his case on the preponderance of evidence?.
On the first issue distilled for determination by the 3rd and 4th defendants’ counsel, i.e. Whether the plaintiff has proved his case against the 4th defendant in this Suit?, it was argued that the claimant did not show any wrongful act done to him by the 4th defendant. Counsel argued that the 4th defendant has no role to play in the events that culminated into the dismissal of the claimants. Counsel posited the claimant has not proved any wrong done to him by the 4th Defendant and he urged this Honourable Court to so hold.
On the 2nd issue, i.e. Whether from the totality of the evidence before this Honourable Court, the plaintiff has proved his case on the preponderance of evidence?, counsel argued that the claimant admitted that a query was issued to him and he answered same before he was dismissed. He submitted that where an employer accuses an employee of misconduct by way of a query and allows the employee to answer the query before a decision is taken against such employee, then the requirement of fair hearing must be deemed to have been satisfied before he was dismissed from his employment. Counsel cited the case of IMONIKE V. UNITY BANK PLC (2011) 12 NWLR PT. 1262 @ 624 Per ONNOGHEN JSC, to support his argument.
Counsel argued that the claimant has not proved any case against the 4th defendant and prayed this Court to hold that the plaintiff has not proved that his dismissal was devoid of fair hearing having been issued with a query which he answered before a decision was taken.
Counsel urged this Court to dismiss the claimant’s case with deterring cost.
I have carefully considered all the processes filed and exchanged by the parties. I have also given adequate thoughts to the arguments canvassed in the case as well as statutory and judicial authorities to which the attention of this Honourable Court have been drawn. I will at this juncture proceed to determine the substance of the instant suit. In determining this suit, I will adopt the two (2) issues formulated for determination by the 3rd and 4th defendants’ counsel in her written address.See more
Whether the plaintiff has proved his case against the 4th defendant in this suit?
In a quick response to the position of 3rd and 4th defendants’ counsel that the claimant has not proved any allegation of wrong doing against the 4th defendant, I refer to the case of HASSAN vs. ATANYI (2002) 8NWLR PT.770 P. 586 RATIO 3 @ PP. 612-123 PARAS. H-C, where it was held that “the person to be joined in a suit must be such whose presence is necessary as a party. What makes a person necessary party is not merely that he has a relevant evidence to give on some of the questions involved; neither is it merely that he has an interest in the relevant arguments to advance. The only reason which makes it necessary to make a person a party to an action is that he should be bound by the result of the action”.
The 4th Defendant in this instance is not being alleged to have done any wrong. However, as the Chief Law officer of the country, it is beyond doubt that the 4th defendant will be affected by the outcome of this suit, which explains why the 4th defendant is being joined as a party in this suit.
The cumulative effect of the above positions is that the 4th defendant is a necessary party to this suit or put differently, the 4th defendant is not wrongly joined in this suit and I so hold.
In view of the above, all argument of the 3rd and 4th defendants’ counsel in support of this issue is discountenanced. This issue is resolved in favour of the claimant and I so hold.
I have taken the pain to carefully look at all the facts, evidence argument and submission for and in support of this case. Even
though it is not in doubt that the claimant was issued with a query which he answered, I do not think the 3rd defendant is vested
with the powers to constitute the Force Disciplinary Committee which indicted the claimant upon which the claimant’s appointment
was terminated. A careful reading and understanding of the relevant laws in this respect would reveal that the 3rd defendant lacks
the power to act in the manner it did in this case. It is very clear from the provisions of S. 6 (1) (a-g) of the Police Service
Commission Act that it is the 1st defendant that is saddled with the responsibility to appoint, promote, dismiss and exercise disciplinary
control over person(s) in the Nigeria Police Force, among other functions of the Commission.
Again the defendants’ non-compliance with the provisions of Rule 030307 of the Public Service Rules which provides that it is the Commission and not the 3rd defendant that should set up the Board of Inquiry is fatal to the case of the defendants. Defendants clearly breached the claimant’s right to fair hearing when he was denied the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses called to testify in the panel and was further denied the opportunity to call witnesses to testify in his favour even when such witnesses were willing to so do.
In view of all the facts and evidence adduced by the claimant in this case, I am satisfied that the claimant has proved his case. The 2nd issue for determination is resolved in favour of the claimant.
The claimant having successfully proved his case, is therefore entitle to his reliefs sought in his claim and I so hold.
In all, the action of the Claimant is meritorious and same is hereby upheld.
In relief (1), the Claimant seeks a declaration that his purported dismissal his employment with the 1st defendant was wrongful and done mala fide and without just cause and in utter disregard to the terms and conditions of service of the defendants. I hereby declare that the purported dismissal of the claimant from his employment with the 1st defendant was wrongful and done mala fide and without just cause and in utter disregard to the terms and conditions of service of the defendants.
By the same token, I hereby grant relief (2). I declare that the dismissal by the defendants’ of the claimant’s appointment as a police officer in the service of the defendants is illegal, ineffectual and unconstitutional having been done in the breach of the claimant’s rights to fair hearing and Rules and Regulation governing his contract of service with the 1st defendant.
I also grant relief (3). I declare that the 3rd defendant’s letter dated the 29th April 2013 which was served on the claimant on the 21st June, 2013 through the commandant, the Nigeria Police Force, Police College Ikeja, which purportedly dismissed the Claimant from service and employment of the 1st Defendant, is null and void and of no effect for being done without due process of law.
I grant relief (4). I declare that that the 1st defendant’s letter no. PSC/C/48/VOL. V/10/6 dated 10th April, 2013 which was never served on the claimant but allegedly containing the decision of the 1st defendant to dismiss the claimant from the employment of the 1st defendant, is illegal, ineffectual and unconstitutional and done in gross breach of the claimant’s right to fair hearing, rules and regulations governing the Claimant’s contract of service with the 1st defendant.
I grant relief (5). I declare that the defendants’ failure and refusal to produce witnesses and the evidence against the claimant for purposes of knowing and controverting the evidence against him for cross examination and defence and their refusal to allow the claimant to call witnesses in his defence before dismissing him are unconstitutional and amount to violation of the claimant’s right to fair hearing.
I refuse relief (6). My reason for refusing this relief is premised on the fact that the claimant did not place before me sufficient evidence to convince me that the purported withholding of his promotion letter was premised on malice. It is in view of the above that I refuse to grant this relief.
I grant relief (7). I declare that the 1st defendant’s dismissal of the claimant from the service without allowing him to make physical representation to defend the allegation leveled against him is unlawful being one done without compliance with statutory regulations, rules and due process of law is null, void and unconstitutional.See more
I grant relief (8). I declare that the claimant employment with the 2nd defendant still subsists.
I grant relief (9). I hereby set aside the 3rd defendant’s letter dated 29th of April 2013 but served on the claimant on the 21st June 2013.
I grant relief (10). I hereby set aside the 1st defendant’s letter No. PSC/C/48/VOL.V/10/6 dated 10th April 2013 which was never served on the claimant but allegedly containing the decision of the 1st Defendant to dismiss the claimant from the employment of the 1st defendant.
I grant relief (11). I ordered the re-instatement of the claimant back to his employment with the 1st defendant with effects from the 3rd April 2013 being the date of the purported dismissal.
I grant relief (12). I order the defendants to pay all the claimant’s salary, allowances, claims, entitlements and benefits due and payable to the claimants with effect from the date of his purported dismissal.
In view of my earlier reasons in respect of relief 6, I equally refuse to grant relief 13.
Relief 14 is for an order directing the payment of the general damages of N50, 000, 000.00 (Fifty Million Naira) only against the defendants for causing shock, trauma, loss of reputation for the imputation of corruption purportedly alleged against the claimant without bringing same before a court of criminal and competent jurisdiction.
Having ordered that the claimant be paid his outstanding salary, allowances, claims, entitlements and benefits, it will not serve the end of justice to grant this relief. I therefore refuse same. I consider the grant of that relief, i.e. relief 12, as sufficient compensation for the injury caused him by the action of the defendants. It is in view of this that I refused to grant relief 13.
For the same reason given in 14 above, I refuse to grant reliefs 15 and 16.
Having granted reliefs 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 above, granting the alternative relief will serve no meaningful purpose. I hereby refuse same.
In the end, the case of the Claimant succeeds on its merit.
I make no order as to cost.
Judgment is entered accordingly.
Hon. Justice B. A. Adejumo, OFR
National Industrial Court of Nigeria