The National Industrial Court of Nigeria has nullified the purported dismissal of Mr. Okorie Bomboy from the Ebonyi State Civil Service, ordered Ebonyi State Universal Basic Education Board, Head Of Service, Civil Service Commission, and State Attorney-General to reinstate Bomboy back to his position with payment of all outstanding salaries and entitlements from 1st January 2017 till date, the sum of 500,000 cost of action within 30 days.
The Presiding Judge, Abakaliki Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Oluwakayode Arowosegbeiin his ruling held that dismissal of the Bomboy from the Ebonyi State Civil Service did not align with the statutes regulating his terms of employment, and violates the principles of natural justice as guaranteed under section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
The claimant- Okorie Bomboy had submitted that he was surprised when he received the letter of dismissal dated 13th January 2017 from the State Civil Service Commission contrary to the Public Service Rules, that no query was issued to him on allegation of serious misconducts nor has he availed the documents against him or given the right to cross-examine witnesses and other breaches that the approval of his dismissal by the governor on the recommendation of the State Head of Service is contrary to the 1999 Constitution; and that, he has suffered serious damages.
The defendants jointly counter-pleaded that as a result of the forged letter of appointment based on which the defendants related with the claimant, that all the products of the relationships are therefore null and void that the State Civil Service Commission exercises appellate jurisdiction over disciplinary processes commenced by the State Universal Basic Education Board that there cannot be wrongful dismissal without valid employment, that the Court has to decide the question of the validity of the employment of the claimant urged the Court to dismiss the suit.
Justice Arowosegbe held that Investigation, trial and imposition of sanctions on civil/public servants are the primary functions of the Civil Service Commission and its organs or agents and not that of the Court.
“The function of the Court is a review of any decision reached by the Civil Service Commission to see whether it is sustainable and whether it is in accordance with the law and the laid down procedures.
“What the defendants are inviting the Court to do is not even to find a postmortem reason or justification for the dismissal but to engage in a prospective investigation, trial and conviction of the claimant on a new accusation of forgery of the letter of offer of appointment, for which he was never investigated and tried by the appropriate constituted bodies. It is not a live issue and a court of law has no jurisdiction to try academic/hypothetical questions.
“The issues the claimant brought to Court showed clearly that his employment is not in doubt and the regularity of the letter of offer of appointment was conceded by the defence up to the issuance of the dismissal letter, for paragraph 1 of the dismissal letter clearly stated that the claimant was until the dismissal “…a staff of the State Planning Commission…” It is therefore on that basis that this case must be fought, won or lost. Issue of irregularities on the letter of offer of appointment is thus clearly an afterthought, and I so hold.
“It is abundantly clear that the Civil Service Commission, Ebonyi State did not conduct any trial on the claimant but merely conveyed the decision of the Governor dismissing the claimant. It is the Governor who took the decision to dismiss the claimant and not the Civil Service Commission. All the Commission did in its 231st meeting was to sheepishly transmit the Governor’s decision to the claimant.
“I hold emphatically that the claimant succeeded in proving unlawful dismissal of employment clothed with statutory flavours and therefore entitled to the reliefs granted above.”
Source: Industrial Court