Industrial Court sets aside Class Teacher’s 12 years employment termination, orders immediate reinstatement

The Presiding Judge, Awka Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice John Targema has declared the dismissal of Class Teacher Mr. W. G. Onoriose from the Federal Civil Service as unlawful, and inconsistent with the Civil Service Rules and the provisions of the 1999 Constitution on fair hearing.

The Court set aside Mr. Onoriose’s letter of suspension, reports of the panel of inquiry, and letter of dismissal; and ordered the Federal Civil Service Commission and Honourable Minister of Education to immediately reinstate Mr. Onoriose to his corresponding position of his mates in terms of his employment before the letter of dismissal with payment of all salaries and allowances from the 5th of October 2012 till the date of his reinstatement.

From facts, the claimant- Mr. Onoriose had submitted that he had been the form teacher since the 2011/2012 academic session and during his 24 years of service, he had never received any complaints or queries regarding his performance; that on July 11, 2012, he was summoned by the senior staff on allegation of misconduct and was suspended thereafter.

He stated further that while hoping and waiting that the Minister of Education would review his suspension; he received a dismissal letter dated 02/4/2013 effective from 5th October 2012.

The plaintiff argued that the Federal Civil Service Commission and the Minister of Education did not comply with relevant laws and regulations before suspending and dismissing him from service.

In defense, the 2nd defendant- the Honourable Minister of Education urged the court to dismiss the suit with substantial cost that the disciplinary committee, constituted followed all due procedures before dismissing Mr. Onoriose from the Federal Civil Service, urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.

In opposition, the counsel to Mr. Onoriose argued that the Federal Civil Service’s failure to afford his client the opportunity to be tried in the regular courts before finding him culpable of criminal misconduct is contrary to the Constitutional provisions.

Counsel averred further that the Federal Civil Service Commission, ought not to have acted on the recommendation of the Honourable Minister of Education without first hearing from Mr. Onoriose as prescribed by the Federal Civil Service Rules.

Delivering the judgement, the presiding Judge, Justice John Targema held that it is therefore erroneous for Mr Onoriose’s counsel to contend that once a crime is detected, the employer cannot dismiss the employee unless he is tried and convicted first.

However, the Court held that the Minister of Education could not claim to have followed the Public Service Rules when they did not refer to it before taking disciplinary action against Mr. Onoriose.

Justice Targema stated that Mr. Onoriose presented evidence that clearly shows that the Federal Civil Service Commission and Minister of Education did not follow the procedures outlined by the Public Service Rules and termination or dismissal cannot be retrospective.

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