The Presiding Judge, Akure Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Kiyersohot Damulak has declared the purported compulsory retirement of Mr. Shina by the Legal Aids Council from public service via a letter dated 11th day of May 2021 as unlawful, null and void and of no effect.
Justice Damulak stated that the Legal Aids Council punished Mr. Shina severally and continuously for a period of two and a half years for the same offence which the Council lacked the power to do.
From facts, the claimant- Mr. Shina had submitted that he received a query and after the disciplinary hearing, he received a transfer instruction on 10th December 2018 and was informed for the first time that he was found guilty of misconduct.
He maintained that the Legal Aids Council does not have the power to find him guilty of misconduct bordering on criminal allegations, and having retained him in service from 20th April 2018 to 25th May 2021, the Legal Aids Council is deemed to have waived and cannot rely on the unfounded allegation as a ground for his subsequent compulsory retirement.
In defense, the defendant- Legal Aids Council contended that the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the suit on the ground that Mr Shina failed to exhaust all remedies provided for in the public service Rules before rushing to court.
The Council averred that though the disciplinary process did not occasion a miscarriage of justice against Mr. Shina and the process is not statute-barred, urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.
In opposition, A.O. Owolabi with T.O. Ojo, learned counsel to Mr. Shina submitted that by the public service Rules, the power to discipline an officer on grade level 15 like Mr. Shina is vested in the Federal Civil Service Commission and their client cannot be punished severally for the same offence, and urged the Court to grant the reliefs sought in the interest of justice.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Kiyersohot Damulak dismissed the Legal Aids Council’s objection for lacking merit and held that the Legal Aids Council has not shown that Mr. Shina, after 7th June 2019, committed another offence of misconduct to warrant any further punishment as stated in letter of transfer.
The Court affirmed that the transfer of Mr. Shina to Akure in December 2018 was a punishment, and the warning letter issued to him on 7th June 2019 was a second punishment, and the letter dated September 2019 ordering refund, replacement and missing the next promotion was a third punishment and the compulsory retirement dated May 2021 was a fourth punishment.
Justice Damulak stated that the content of the warning letter issued to Mr. Shina leaves no doubt that it concludes the issue of punishment on Mr. Shina, and questions how many times the Legal Aids Council is entitled to punish the claimant for one and the same offence.
The Court stated that Mr. Shina was a Grade Level 15 officer and was outside the disciplinary powers of the Legal Aids Council.
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