Court sets aside dismissal of deceased NJI staff, orders payment of entitlements

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The National Industrial Court, Abuja on Wednesday set aside the letter of dismissal of a staff of National Judicial Institute (NJI), dismissed posthumously (after his death).

Delivering judgment, Justice Rakiya Haastrup, declared the dismissal as null, void and of no effect.

“In my humble view, the dismissal letter cannot be said to have survived the deceased employee, what survives the deceased is his entitlements which accrued to him before his death.”

Haastrup equally said that by the NJI Act, it was only the the Board of Governors that could exercise the functions of appointment, promotions and discipline of any employee.

She said that from the exhibit before the court, the deceased letter of employment was signed by a secretary on behalf of the administrator of the institute.

The judge said, “I think it only follows then that the same authority which issued the employment letter should have been the same to issue the letter of dismissal.

“The letter has no legal effect on Late A.O Oladimeji, since it did not emanate from 1st defendant, and I so hold”.

The letter of dismissal had been signed by the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, as the Chairman, Board of Governors.

Haastrup added that there was no evidence to show that the deceased was under any investigation on allegation of fraud.

She said neither was there any documentary evidence before the court on report of disciplinary committee to show that the deceased was invited and appeared before it.

She said this implied that the procedure in Public Service Rules was not complied with before the dismissal of the deceased..

The judge further ordered that the defendant should compute and pay the claimant (widow) all the entitlements of the deceased.

In addition, she awarded the sum of N500,000 as general damages and the sum of N100,000 as cost of prosecuting the suit in favour of the claimant.

Haastrup concluded by directing that judgment must be complied with, within 30 days from the date of judgment.

Joined as co-defendants in the suit are the Board of Governors and Administrator of NJI.

Adeyemi Pitan, the claimant’s counsel in his submission said that the widow of the deceased, Mrs Lucy Oladimeji had approached the court to seek redress when she got a letter dismissing her husband who died on April 14, 2008 in a letter dated July 9, 2008.

He said the deceased was employed by the defendant on April 18,1999 as a Chief Administrative Officer.

Pitan also said efforts to make the defendant pay the deceased’s entitlements had proved abortive.

The defence counsel, Eyitayo Fatogun in the statement of defence had, however argued that the deceased, Mr. A.B Oladimeji, was dismissed posthumously because of a report on allegation of fraud by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) that indicted him. (NAN)

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