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Industrial Court dismisses alleged unlawful dismissal claim against Nigerian Navy

Hon. Justice (Prof) Elizabeth Oji of the Lagos Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has dismissed the case filed by one Osarodion against the Nigerian Navy challenging his dismissal from service as lacking in merit.

The Court held that Osarodion failed to show how his dismissal contravened the Nigerian Navy Regulations and also failed to lead convincing evidence that his right to fair hearing was infringed.

From facts, the claimant- Osarodion had submitted that he joined the service of the Nigerian Navy on March 22nd 1999 that sometime in March 2016, he was charged for misconduct and was informed by the Command Marshal that he had been disbranched.

Osarodion maintained that the summary trial proceedings before the Commanding Officer Table which found him guilty of the charge of “negligence and disobedience to particular order” is a gross violation of the Constitution of Nigeria and the principles of natural justice.

In defence, the defendant- the Nigerian Navy testified that Osarodion was given every opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses or call his own witness to counter the allegation made against him, and was recommended for dismissal by the Commanding Officer and was subsequently confirmed on the 18th October 2016.

The Nigerian Navy contended that the court lack the jurisdiction to try the matter on the ground that the Court cannot sit over the decision of a General Court Martial, being a court of coordinate jurisdiction, and also premature for being brought without compliance with the Armed Forces Act.

In opposition, the Counsel to Osarodion argued that the word “may” used in section 147(2) of the Armed Forces Act, cannot be constructed as ousting the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court in the context in which it was so used by the legislature, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.

In a well-considered judgment, the presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Elizabeth Oji held that section 147(2) of the Armed Forces Act, is not a mandatory provision to constitute a condition precedent to access to the Court, and affirmed the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter for not being a decision of a Court Martial.

The Court stated that Osarodion did not lead evidence to establish the procedure required by service regulation that were breached, and the report of the Confirmation of Summary trial punishment tendered by the Nigerian Navy shows that the accused was properly charged and due processes were complied with during the trial, as Osarodion was given the opportunity to state his case as shown in the report.

Justice Oji held that Osarodion has not led convincing evidence that his right to fair hearing was infringed.


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