The National Industrial Court (NIC) has warned the Federal Ministry of Information (FMI) against the continued delay in the hearing of a three -year old legal action instituted against it and two others by a former employee, Mr. Yushau A. Shuaib.
The warning from the court followed a complaint by lawyer to the plaintiff, Barrister James Abah Odeh of Bamidele Aturu Chambers that the Ministry of Information had in the past three years employed delay tactics to frustrate hearing of the civil action while other defendants especially the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) had been diligent in the court.
At the resumption of the hearing when the plaintiff was to be cross-examined, the Federal Ministry of Information was not represented by its lawyer but instead the ministry wrote a letter to the court requesting for another adjournment.
The plaintiff counsel Mr. Abah Odeh who was surprised that the Ministry wrote for an adjournment instead of its counsel, accused the ministry of frustrating hearing of the legal action that was instituted against it to challenge the legality of the compulsory retirement of the plaintiff three years ago.
Although the adjournment was granted till July 12, 2016, Justice Edet Isele warned the defendant against undue delay of hearing of the case in the interest of justice adding that Justice delayed is justice denied.
The plaintiff, Mr. Shuaib had dragged the Federal Civil Service Commission, Federal Ministry of Information and the Former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala before the Industrial court in Abuja to challenge his compulsory retirement from the Federal Civil Service after a media publication.
In the court action, the plaintiff prayed for an order of the court against the civil service commission to reinstate him to his post as Chief Information Officer forthwith without any loss at to seniority, salaries, positions and other emoluments.
He also prayed for an order of the Industrial Court to compel the Federal Ministry of Information and FCSC to compute and pay to him all his salaries, allowances, other emoluments and interests due to him from the month of July 2013 up to the date of judgment.
In the legal action instituted on his behalf by Mr. James Odeh Abah, the plaintiff claimed that he was offered automatic employment in to Federal Civil Service in 1994 as one of the NYSC National Honour recipients for meritorious service and outstanding performance as a writer and had served as Press Secretary in the Federal Ministry Information, Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Health, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
The claimant further averred that by a letter of June 26, 2013, he was purportedly retired by the Federal Ministry of Information where he was the Chief Information Officer.
The plaintiff claimed that the compulsory retirement was based on imaginary misconduct raised against him by Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala over a publication in the media without following the due process of the law relating to civil service procedure.
He therefore asked the court to declare that the letter of compulsory retirement as having no force of law, it is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever being in flagrant violation of the rules of the public service 2008 edition.
Plaintiff further asked the court to declare that the decision of the Federal civil service commission of June 26, 2013 on his compulsory retirement without conducting any investigation, without giving him opportunity to defend himself and without complying with the conditions, precedent for retirement is contrary to Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and the Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Right and Enforcement Act Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and the Public Service Rules 030305 and 030601 of 2008 it is therefore illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
Meanwhile Justice Edet E. D. Isele has adjourned further hearing in the industrial dispute case till July 12, 2016 when the Ministry of Information is expected to cross-examine the plaintiff