The National Industrial Court has ordered the National Examinations Council (NECO) to reinstate a dismissed member of staff, Malam Ibrahim Musa .
The reinstatement of the claimant as ordered by the court, was to the position or rank he ought to be at the judgment date.
Delivering judgment, Justice Olufunke Anuwe, also declared that the employment termination of the claimant without due process, as unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no legal effect.
The court in addition directed the defendant to pay the claimant all his arrears of salary, allowances, benefits and other entitlements from Nov.5, 2021 when his employment was terminated till date.
The court further awarded the sum of N1 million against the defendant as general damages. Anuwe also ordered the payment of N200,000 as cost of action, all to be paid within 30 days.
The court in arriving at its decision held that that the termination of the claimant’s employment was done in breach of provisions of the NECO Staff Regulation and in violation of the claimant’s right to fair hearing.
From facts, the claimant had submitted that NECO issued him a query dated Aug. 13, 2021 and he replied on Aug. 14,2021.
He added that he was issued another query dated Sept. 15, 2021 alleging that he was found guilty of misconduct which contravened Rule 030102 of the Public Service Rules. ( PSR)
He further averred that the defendant never set up any Staff Disciplinary Committee or Administrative Panel with respect to the queries or the allegation for which his employment was terminated.
Musa added that he never appeared before any Disciplinary/Administrative Panel before any decision was taken against him.
In defence, the defendant through its counsel, J.G Taidi , submitted that the claimant’s employment termination was done in accordance with stipulated PSR rules.The counsel therefore urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.
In opposition, the claimant’s counsel, Daniel Omakor maintained that none of the two queries served on his client were on the allegation of abscondment from office for which his employment was terminated.
He stated that the queries were on misconduct and he urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
The court after evaluating the submissions of both counsel held that the claimant’s employment cannot be terminated without strict compliance with the terms and conditions applicable to his employment.
The court also held that the claimant was not served any query where the allegation of “abscondment from office” or contravention of Rules 030301 and 030401 of the PSR was made against him prior to the termination of his employment.
The judge equally held that the Management Committee did not investigate the allegation of abscondment from office against Musa.
The court stated that the claimant was not queried on the allegation for which his employment was terminated and as such, he never had the chance to reply to the allegation.