The National Industrial Court (NIC), sitting in Abuja has declared null and void the summary dismissal of one Ayeni Moses Akinwande from the services of the federal government owned Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSTF) .
A judge of the Court that hears industrial matters Obaseki Osaghae reinstated Akinwande to the service
on grounds of illegalities committed by the authorities of NSTF in the process and denial of fair hearing.
The judge said that Akinwande’s dismissal on February 15. 2017 was unlawful, illegal, null and void and of no effect having been done in breach of mandatory laws on employment .
Delivering judgment in a suit marked NICN/ABJ/57/2020 instituted on March 4. 2020. Justice Osaghae held that the Staff Regulations Rule 06.02 was violently violated in dismissing the plaintiff, a Deputy Manager of the NSTF while on admission at the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital for health challenges.
The court held that the Acting Managing Director who dismissed the plaintiff through a letter issued by one Grace Benson, an Assistant General Manager of NSTF in 2017 lacked the requisite powers to do so in the face of the provisions of laws guiding employment.
Among others, the court found an indisputable fact that the plaintiff was in hospital for two weeks and that an excuse letter was duly issued and served on his employer by the hospital.
Justice Osaghae also found as fact that the plaintiff was not issued with query or be made to appear before any disciplinary committee before his dismissal thereby breaching section 36 of the 1999 Constitution in denying him fair hearing as claimed by the plaintiff.
The court also held that the nature of allegation of “serious misconduct ” used to justify the dismissal was not explained in the dismissal letter and in the defence filed by the NSTF and its Management Board who are the 1st and 2nd defendants respectfully in the matter.
Justice Osaghae said that rather than addressing the issues of potent laws raised by the plaintiff to fault his dismissal, the defendants only challenged the jurisdiction of the court in the use of originating summons instead of complaints in a matter relating to labour and employment issues.
According to the Judge since non of the averments of the plaintiff are challenged or controverted, they are deemed admitted in the face of the law and therefore held that the purported dismissal of the plaintiff without following due process of law was liable to be nullified and set aside.
Justice Osaghae consequently granted all the reliefs sought by the plaintiff against the defendants with declarations
The Judge declared the letter with reference No. NSITF/Aa/8854/10/TR dated 15/2/17 and which dismissed the plaintiff as illegal, null and void and of no effect having been issued by an inappropriate authority/person or official of the defendants, in total disregard of the provisions of Rule 06.02 of the defendant’s extant Staff Regulations and Conditions of Service Handbook.
He set aside the letter of the purported dismissal and reinstated the plaintiff to the service immediately.
The court also declared that the appropriate authority/person, entity or official of the defendants that can dismiss the claimant from the service or employment of the defendants, in compliance with Rule 06.02 of the defendant’s extant Staff Regulations and Conditions of Service Handbook, is the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund Management Board, or the Management Board delegating the power of dismissal to the Managing Director.
The court further declared that the Acting Managing Director or any official acting in his stead is not the appropriate person or authority under Rule 06.02 of the defendants’ Staff Regulation and Conditions of Service Handbook, so conferred with powers of dismissal of the claimant.
Justice Osaghae declared that the claimant’s employment with the defendant subsisted and remained unbroken with all the rights and privileges of his office and with no loss of seniority.
He also ordered the defendants to pay the claimant within 30 days all his outstanding salaries, allowances, emoluments and all other perks or increment arising or attached to his position as Deputy Manager, or arising or attached to the current positions enjoyed by his colleagues from the 13th February 2017, till date.
The defendants were further ordered to place the claimant in the same position as his colleagues who were Deputy Managers when his employment was unlawfully terminated.
A cost of N100,000.00 was awarded to be paid to the claimant by the defendants.