The Honourable Justice OA Obaseki Osaghae of the National Industrial Court has adjourned a suit filed by a Deputy Director of Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, Yisa Usman, over wrongful dismissal.
The Deputy Director filed the N150 million suit as compensation to challenge the decision of JAMB to unlawfully dismiss him from office on 29th September 2023 .
In the suit, NICN/ABJ/266/2023, filed by his Counsel, Oseini Bamigbaye from the Chambers of Mohammed Shuaibu, at the NIC Abuja, the Deputy Director is praying the court to quash the dismissal and reinstate him.
He is also praying the court to grant him an order for his entitlements, benefits, and perks among others.
Usman is the claimant, while JAMB is the sole defendant in the case dated and filed September 29, 2023.
When the case of wrongful dismissal was called up for mention at the National Industrial Court, Area 3, Abuja on Monday 22nd January, 2024, the presiding judge, OA Obaseki Osaghae, adjourned the matter to March 11, 2024.
The defendant, JAMB did not appeared nor sent a legal representative for the hearing.
The court document shows that the plaintiff is seeking, “an order compelling the defendant to promote the claimant as the Director of Finance and Account, being the most senior and qualified Director in the Finance Department; the current Director of Finance and Account (DFA), having been holding that office illegally since May 9, 2022, when he turned 60 years old.
“Exemplary damages in the sum of N150, 000, 000.00(One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) for illegally and unlawfully dismissing the claimant as well as the emotional, reputational, psychological pain and trauma caused by the malicious, illegal, and arbitrary actions of the defendant.
“The cost of this action includes reasonable cost to cover solicitor’s fees.”
In his statement of material facts, Usman averred that he joined JAMB in Sept 11, 1997 as an Accountant II and rose to the position of Deputy Director after receiving several promotions in the Board.
He said at the time of the dismissal, he was in his eight year as Deputy Director in Federal Service and next in line to be the DFA.
He said his professional education, training, experience, and personal principles “shaped him as an accountable, honest, transparent, efficient, and anti-corruption individual who cannot tolerate any form of infractions and always speak up against them.”
According to him, this nature resulted in conflicts with the Management of the Board, as he is seen as an obstacle that needs to be removed.
He said his commitment to due process and aversion to corrupt practices led him to lodge complaints to the management of JAMB, the Head of Service, the EFCC, ICPC and the office of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education about financial interactions in the board.
Usman said unfortunately, these actions did not sit well with the Board’s Management, particularly its Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede.
NAN observes that no fewer than 33 letters, exhibited in the court documents, were written by the claimant to different government agencies in his efforts to blow the whistle on various infractions, violations of due process, laws, and Civil Service Rules against the Board in relation to procurement, bookkeeping and employment regulations.
Against this background, Usman averred that he suffered continuous transfers despite his constant pleas due to his physical and health issues.
According to him, within a period of five years, the claimant was maliciously transferred from Abuja to Kogi to Kaduna and then to Port Harcourt and back to Kaduna, despite his physical challenges and the distance from his family.
He alleged that the purpose of these transfers was to remove him from important core activities of the Board and prevent him from raising concerns about any notable infractions.
Besides, he said that in the bid to shut him down, a trumped up charge was filed against him at Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja.
“Despite all these challenges, the claimant diligently and commendably performed his duties and responsibilities,” he said.
Justice Osatohanmwen Obaseki-Osaghae adjourned the matter until March 11 for further mention due to non-representation of JAMB in court when the matter came up on Monday.
The judge also directed that a hearing notice be issued and served on the defendant against the next adjourned date.
NAN reports that the police had, on June 14, 2023, arraigned Usman before Justice Nkeonye Maha of a FHC on allegations bordering on threatening Mrs Raheemat Oloyede on the phone with the intent to blackmail her husband, Prof. Ishaq, the JAMB’s Registrar, among other counts.
But Usman’s lawyer notified the FHC Court, when parties returned to court, that while the trial was still ongoing, his client was dismissed when parties ought to respect and submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the court and maintained a status quo pending the hearing and determination of the charge.