The National Industrial Court of Nigeria has set aside the suspension of Mr. Moses Adaguusu and ordered the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, to pay him over N14 million as benefits and allowances accrued to him while on suspension.
Justice E.N. Agbakoba, who delivered the judgement on Friday at the Abuja division of the court, also awarded the sum of N2 million Adaguusu as cost of prosecution.
Delivering the judgement on the case with Suit No NICN/ABJ/169/2021, Justice Agbakoba said while the court does not hinder employers from punishing erring staff, such punishment must be within the ambit as specified by the law.
She said not adhering to fair hearing principle contravenes the law. She therefore declare the suspension with fair hearing and without payment of allowances and benefits as null and void.
Agbakoba also set aside the claim by the defendant that the claimant did not exhaust the mechanisms inherent in the circular of the civil service.
Speaking to journalists after the judgement, the prosecuting counsel, Terlumun Azom Esq, said the judgement serve as a caution to heads of MDAs saddled with the tasks of heading public offices on behalf of the government.
Azom said, “The judgement has condemned in itself what is called impunity and rascality by those saddled with the position of authority, especially those in public offices that have been given the responsibility to lead. They have to abide by the rules governing their offices.
“In this case, the claimant was wrongfully suspended from office. He wasn’t given fair hearing; The rules guiding proceedings as far as fair hearing is concerned were not adhered to, simply because of the interest of an individual, the Registrar General of CAC.
“The court has today, vindicated the claimant by condemning his actions of high-handedness and acting rather too harshly with authority” he said.
The counsel to the claimant expressed gratitude to the court for granting the relief it sought through it.
“We are very grateful to the court and we thank God almighty for keeping us alive to see victory today.
“The benefits of the judgement are much. First, we sought for a declaratory relief, setting aside the illegal suspension of the claimant and the court actually granted it. Secondly, the court also directed that all his benefits, entitlements accruable to the claimant as a deputy director, which totals over N14 million should be paid to him while he was on suspension.
“Thirdly, the court also awarded the sum of N2 million as the cost of prosecuting this action. Being a successful person, the court thought it wise that he should be paid for filing this matter. We applaud the decision of the court” Azom said.
Responding, counsel to the defendant, Francis Ogbu Esq expressed his dissatisfaction with the judgement and said he will proceed on appeal.
“We heard somethings which we are not comfortable with. So the legal thing to do is to go on appeal” he said.
Meanwhile, the spouse of the claimant Mrs. Member Adaguusu, who spoke on the challenges she experienced as a result of the actions of the Registrar General towards the husband said the persecution while it lasted was a terrible experience.
“I and my family have suffered in the hands of the Registrar General, CAC for no just cause. My husband’s victimisation and oppression for three years at the instance of the Registrar General is a terrible experience. I thank the court today for vindicating my husband. The court has once again proven to be the only hope of the common man”.
The legal tussle started when the claimant, Mr Moses Adaguusu, a Deputy Director, through his counsel, approached the Industrial Court seeking it to declare as null and void