The Presiding Judge, Akure Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Kiyersohot Damulak has nullified the purported dismissal of Mr. Allen Sowore from Ondo State Civil Service Commission and ordered for his reinstatement to his erstwhile position in the Ministry of Rural and Community Development with payment of salaries from August 2020 till date and subsequently till retirement.
Justice Damulak held that Mr. Sowore was not afforded fair hearing in the process leading to his dismissal and therefore his dismissal was null and void for want of a fair hearing.
From facts, the claimant- Mr. Allen Sowore had averred that the procedure for dismissing him as an officer in the State Civil Service was gravely flouted by the defendants who desperately and clandestinely determine the guilt without following the due process as provided by the Civil Service rules.
His Counsel submitted further that the defendants did not give his client an opportunity to be heard before he was issued a letter of dismissal and the decision to dismiss him for sundry allegations of absence from duty without lawful authority, involvement in political activities, and refusal to answer queries, acted arbitrarily and violated the claimant’s right.
In defense, the defendants- Ondo State Civil Service Commission, Ministry of Rural and Community Development, Ondo State Head of Service, and the State Accountant General maintained that the refusal of Mr. Sowore to pick the query issued to him and present his defense to the allegation of absence from duty amounts to a waiver of his right to fair hearing, that having satisfied the requirement of the law and procedure in the Civil Service Rules and Civil Service Regulations, the dismissal of Mr. Sowore is valid, constitutional and in accordance with the due process of law.
The learned defendant's counsel submitted that the leave of absence obtained from the Commission was in respect of the appointment by the Governor. Once the Governor terminates the appointment, the leave of absence obtained in respect thereof also automatically terminates and Sowore did not need a letter terminating the leave of absence before returning to his office in the Directorate of Community and Rural Development.
In reply, Mr. Sowore submitted that upon the oral termination of his job at the Governor’s office, he was absorbed as an aide by the office of the Deputy Governor on the same leave of absence which will elapse in 2021 and which has not been revoked by the 1st defendant or anybody whatsoever, urged the Court to grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering the judgment after careful evaluation of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Damulak held that whether or not the Deputy Governor had the statutory power to make such appointment, the re-appointment by the Deputy Governor was a fresh appointment and Mr. Sowore needed to apply and obtain a fresh leave of absence from Ondo State Civil Service Commission, which he did not.
Justice Damulak held that query from the Directorate of community and Rural Development, and the invitation to the plenary of the State Civil Service Commission was not served on the claimant, and the invitation to the sitting of the senior staff disciplinary committee of the Directorate of community and Rural Development is not in evidence, let alone served on the claimant.
“It is to be noted that the employment of the claimant is statutorily protected therefore the procedure for his discipline or removal from office must be strictly followed or else the removal is null and void and liable to be set aside. This question is resolved in favor of the claimant.” Justice Damulak Ruled.