His Lordship, Justice Nelson Ogbuanya of the National Industrial Court sitting in Lagos has dismissed the case filed by one Olabisi against the Governing Council, Estate Surveyors and valuers Registration Board for lacking merit.
The Court held that Olabisi was afforded sufficient opportunity to defend herself on the allegations levelled against her and her responses to the queries amount to an admission that her employment was validly terminated.
From facts, the claimant- Olabisi had submitted that her employment was terminated contrary to the natural justice and non-compliance with the provisions of Public Service Rules, and had written that the letter of termination be replaced with reinstatement but all to no avail.
She also contended that her termination of employment was a product of serial victimization against her by the Board that the Committee that heard her case comprised of those who had grievance issues with her, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
In defence, the Defendant- Estate Surveyors and valuers board submitted that they acted on the recommendation of the investigative committee, that the appointment of the Olabisi and three others be terminated based on misconduct, that claimant herself confirmed that she was given the opportunity to explain and defend herself, and that satisfied the rule of fair hearing.
The board counsel, E. Akpofure, Esq while contending that there was no evidence of any victimization against the Claimant, that the board terminated her employment with three other staff involved in the said misconduct, urged the court to dismiss the case.
In opposition, the claimant counsel, E. A. Adesina Esq argued that the allegation of misconduct was not proved by the agency as required by the Evidence Act, urged the court to discountenance the submission of the board and grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering the judgment after careful analysis of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Nelson Ogbuanya held that it is the duty of Olabisi to show by credible evidence how the alleged termination/dismissal was wrongful and no supporting evidence to anchor the allegation of victimization by the board.
Justice Ogbuanya held that the Olabisi admissions in her responses to the queries invariably relieved the agency of the evidential burden of proof of the alleged misconduct which incidentally motivated the termination of her employment.
“I nurture a considered view that in certain circumstances of the employment relationship, particularly where the erring employee admitted the alleged infraction, exchange of Query and Response can suffice as a disciplinary hearing, and such has been judicially acknowledged to satisfy the fair hearing prescription of the rule of natural justice in such disciplinary hearing.
“I find that the Claimant did not sufficiently adduce evidence to show how the said officers actually victimized her that could disqualify them from sitting at the Board Meeting where the decision to terminate the Claimant’s employment was made, even when by her own express written response to the queries, she admitted the allegation that prompted the termination of her employment. Accordingly, I find no discrimination against the Claimant. I so hold.
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