His Lordship, Hon. Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi of the Abuja judicial division of the National Industrial Court has declared that the employment relationship between Amina Attah and the National Council for Arts and Culture subsist, declared the stoppage of Amina’s salary by the agency without a letter of dismissal or disengagement as unlawful, null and void.
Justice Oyewumi ordered the National Council for Arts and Culture to pay Amina Attah all her salaries and outstanding allowance from November 2015 till date within 30 days.
From facts, the claimant- Amina Attah had submitted that she appeared before a committee over an allegation of misconduct which she denied and was never confronted with anyone over the said allegation that she was not paid salary since November 2015 and later got to know through the Account Unit that a confirmation from the office of the Accountant General of Federation indicated a suspension of her salary and to which only an admin officer has an explanation that all effort towards the payment of her salary proved abortive.
In defense, the defendant- National Council for Arts and Culture averred that sometimes in the year 2014, due to the overblown size of its workforce, a verification exercise was conducted and as a result of which a report was issued which revealed that several persons were illegally captured on its payroll.
The agency further contended that Amina was offered an appointment by unauthorized staff without its approval as a result of which he was issued a query and was also indicted by a fact-finding committee set up in respect of misconduct, submitted that Amina has failed to place sufficient evidence before the Court to entitle her to the reliefs sought, urged the Court to dismiss the case with substantial cost.
In opposition, the Amina counsel Iyaji Bisong Esq submitted that the argument of the council that his client was employed by an unauthorized person is laughable, averred that the reason for the stoppage of her salary is shrouded in secrecy that the agency acted in utter disregard of the procedures laid down in the Public Service Rules PSR, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering judgment after careful evaluation of the submissions of both parties, the presiding judge, Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi held that the person that signed the employment letter issued to Amina Attah acted on the agency directive that due process was followed in Amina’s employment.
The Court held that Amina ought to be communicated about the outcome of whatever disciplinary action taken against her and the council failed to tender any evidence to prove the contrary.
Justice Oyewumi further held that the claimant cannot be deemed to have constructive knowledge of her disengagement from the service in the absence of any letter to that effect that the defendant ought to communicate the claimant’s disengagement/ dismissal from service to her if any.