Memo to Lai Mohammed on Disobedience to Court Orders
Dear Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I write this in respect to your Ministry’s apparent disobedience to a straightforward court order for my reinstatement and payment of remuneration after the illegal letter of retirement I received in 2013.
As you may be aware, Justice David Isele of the National Industrial Court, NIC, had on November 22, 2017, ruled and ordered the immediate reinstatement and the payment after I was forcefully retired over an opinion article I wrote on former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in March 2013.
The court had declared that the letter retiring me from service has no force of law and is therefore illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever being in flagrant violation of the civil service rules.
Meanwhile, I am equally too aware of the fact that the Federal Ministry of Information which you supervise as the Minister had in March this year reported to have rejected the judgement. In its appeal, the Ministry urged the Court to set aside the judgement of NIC and to dismiss the suit. Joined as a defendant is the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) which had signified its readiness to obey the order and recall me back into the service.
While your Ministry has neither complied with the court order nor responded to the series of letters from my lawyers over the legal issues, I least expect that as the Minister of Information, a lawyer by qualification and a former spokesperson of the then opposition party who was publicly defending my right to freedom of expression would now sit on a fair judgement on the same issue since last year.
You may recall that when you were the spokesperson of the then opposition party, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), you issued an official statement in the noon of Sunday, May 5, 2013 extoling my courage for the constructive criticisms in my writings as you berated the administration of Goodluck Jonathan for harassing and penalizing me over the same issue.
In your statement where you also condemned Jonathan’s regime for attacking Rotimi Amaechi and Oby Ezekwesili, you wrote thus: “The fate that befell NEMA spokesman Yushau Shuaib for daring to criticize the lopsided appointments in parastatals under the Ministry of Finance, are glaring actions of an administration (Goodluck Jonathan) that is bent on stifling Freedom of Expression.
“These anti-democratic measures will worsen as the 2015 elections approach. Therefore, all lovers of democracy must join us in speaking out against the Jonathan Administration’s descent into despotism.
“This is the only way to prevent a President’s desperation for power from torpedoing our country’s democracy. After all, a critical benchmark of a democratic society is the existence of a vibrant, free and independent media that will give the citizenry a platform to freely and vigorously debate current issues”.
Though I am quite surprised that you now keep mum after a judgement that favoured your advocacy in the past. I refused to believe that as the then spokesperson of the opposition party you were merely pretending or lying when you were defending my right to freedom of expression in 2013. I now wonder if you are aware, as the Minister, of the notice of appeal from your Ministry rejecting the entire judgement of a competent court for my reinstatement and compensations.
Like I had stated previously, I don’t believe you could be lying with your public support for the freedom of expression in 2013 by tolerating the unfathomable decision of your Ministry on the same issue in 2018.
Honourable Minister sir, I urge you to be wary of fraudulent antics of petty civil servants who could mislead you. It may interest you to note that in a deliberate effort to nail me at all cost after my article on Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in 2013, the directors in the Ministry of Information ignored my various initiatives and efforts in promoting the image of the government while in the service. I had issued countless press releases and articles as well as received awards and commendations even from government agencies in 20 years’ career in the service.
The directors met and insisted on my dismissal over the same article ignoring my written defence. They even made a mockery of the Automatic Employment the government offered me as a recipient of Presidential National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Award for meritorious service in 1994.
In page 6 of the minutes of their meeting of June 11, 2013, the Directors of the Ministry indicated their disdain for merit and demonstrated their jealousy when they stated that “the officer (Yushau Shuaib) came into the service by accident and it was advisable that he should go the same way.”
It was after I was forcefully retired that I sued the government for the unlawful retirement over the opinion article. In my statement of defence before the Court, I stated that I was not given fair hearing by the ministry and that the Public Service Rule 030421 gave me the right to write an article. The section states that “Nothing in this rule shall be deemed to prevent an officer from publishing in his own name, by writing, speech or broadcast matters relating to a subject of general interest which does not contain a critic of any officer.”
I also cited Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution which states that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”
Since you, as the Minister of Information, have refused to respond to the court judgement and series of letters from my solicitors since last year, I have no other alternative than to instruct my lawyer to take an immediate and appropriate legal action against you.
Wuye District, Abuja