The Benin Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria presided over by Honorable Justice Aduola Adewemimo has declared the removal of Mrs. Caroline Edo-Osagie from office as a permanent secretary in the Edo State civil service on 17th October, 2012 as illegal, unconstitutional, invalid, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
Delivering judgement on Monday, 27th April, in suit No: NICN/AK/14/2013 instituted by Mrs. Caroline Edo-Osagie challenging her removal from the Edo State Civil Service as a permanent secretary by the Edo State government; Honourable Justice Adewemimo also ordered the Edo state government to pay her salary as permanent secretary in the Edo State Civil Service from 17th October 2012, the date of her illegal removal from office to the 14th of August, 2013, her date of retirement as a permanent secretary, her gratuity as a retired permanent secretary and her monthly pension as a permanent secretary with effect from 31st August, 2013 till the date of judgement and thereafter.
Mrs. Caroline Edo-Osagie, the claimant in the suit had challenged her removal from office as a Permanent Secretary by the then Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole without a query, non adherence to Civil Service Rules, claiming that her purported removal from office was a flagrant breach of her conditions of service having heard same via media announcement.
Upholding the argument of the Claimant’s counsel, Kingsley Obamogie urging the court to declare null and void the Defendants’ letter dated 30th April, 2013 to the Claimant during the pendecy of the suit, directing the Claimant’s demotion to the rank of Deputy Director in the Edo State Civil Service, Justice Adewemimo held, “nothing should change during the pendecy of an action. Parties to an action are not expected to take any action which may affect or render the judgement of the court nugatory and, any such action by the party in respect of the subject of a suit, will be declared null and void.
“The Defendants’ letter dated 30th April, 2013, issued to the Claimant during the pendecy of this suit is declared unconstitutional, illegal and in breach of Claimant’s conditions of service.”
Deploring the purported removal of Mrs. Caroline as a permanent secretary in the Edo State Civil Service vide media announcement, the Honourable Justice Adewemimo held that it is on record that the Claimant was appointed into the office of permanent secretary vide a letter of appointment marked as exhibit C4 which was published vide a gazette also marked Exhibit C5 which “goes to reason that appointments, resignation, or removal from office of a public officer cannot be done by a radio announcement, as this is contrary to her terms of employment and International Labour Standard.
“This court is charged by Section 254C (1) f&h of the CFRN 1999 as amended to apply international best practice in labour, Employment and Industrial relation matters as well as International labour standard. The removal of the Claimant from office by a mere media announcement is contrary to all tenants of a contractual employment and International Labour Standard”, Justice Adewemimo held.
While stating that the Claimant’s plea for pre- judgement interest fails, Justice Adewemimo held, “the claim for pre-judgement interest fails, all sums awarded in this judgment are to be paid by the defendants within 30 days from the date of this judgment, failing which the sum shall attract a 10% interest per annum.”
Reported By Lucky Isibor,