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The court has exclusive jurisdiction in civil causes and matters relating to or connected with any labour, employment, trade unions, industrial relations and matters arising from workplace, the conditions of service, including health, safety, welfare of labour, employee, worker and matter incidental thereto or connected therewith.

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Industrial Court declares removal of Prefa Freedom, Barry Ikosomi from Bayelsa Independent Electoral Commission as UnConstitutional


428 Wednesday 8th June 2022

The Presiding Judge, Yenagoa Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Bashar Alkali has declared the purported dissolution and removal of Hon. Prefa Freedom and Hon. Barry Ikosomi as Commissioner and member of the Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission by the Governor of Bayelsa State as announced on the 15th February 2012 as unconstitutional and unlawful in regard to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 {as amended}.


Justice Alkali ordered the Government of Bayelsa State Government and its Attorney-General to pay Hon. Prefa Freedom and Hon. Barry Ikosomi forthwith the sum of N24.5m, N45.5m respectively being their total monthly net pay for the unexpired period and severance gratuity.


The Court held that Hon. Prefa Freedom and Hon. Barry Ikosomi cannot be removed at the whim and caprice of the Bayelsa State Government that the procedure for bringing their appointment to a lawful end must be complied with; awarded the sum of N2,000,000.00 {Two Million Naira} only as damages and the sum of N300,000. 00 as the cost of action against the State Government and its Attorney General.


From facts, the claimants- Hon. Prefa Freedom and Hon. Barry Ikosomi had submitted that he was appointed as Commissioner of the Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission on the 30th of November, 2009 and the State Government abruptly terminated their appointment through the government-owned media without recourse to the constitutional procedure laid down for their removal. 


They averred further that they instituted an action against the Defendants sometime in 2012 and got judgment in their favour but was struck out by the apex court for lack of jurisdiction and we were asked to present the case before the National Industrial court.


In defense, the Defendants- Government of Bayelsa State Government and its Attorney-General submitted that the Court does not even possess the power to review the judgment of a court of coordinate or concurrent jurisdiction not to talk of appellate courts and that Hon. Prefa Freedom and Hon. Barry Ikosomi action has been caught by the statute of limitation action and urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.


In reply, the claimants' counsel, Matthew Opukumo Esq urged the court to discountenance the submission of the defendants and grant the reliefs sought.


After careful evaluation of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Bashar Alkali held that Hon. Prefa Freedom and Hon. Barry Ikosomi have not lost the opportunity to re-commence the suit again since the judgment of the Court of Appeal did not dismiss the claim of the Claimants; dismissed the objections for lacking merit.


Justice Alkali held the appointment of Hon. Prefa Freedom and Hon. Barry Ikosomi was protected to some extent by statutory provisions and cannot be removed at the whim and caprice of the State Government that the procedure for bringing their appointment to a lawful end must be complied with.


“Following the pleadings before this court, and the provisions of Section 197 and 201 of the Constitution, the Governor of Bayelsa State is bereft of the constitutional power to remove the Claimants from office in flagrant disobedience to the provision of Section 201 of the Constitution. 


“I hereby hold that dissolution of the Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission without compliance with Section 201 of the Constitution is null and void. And as such the claimants are entitled to reliefs {1} and {2}.


“I order that all the terms contained in this judgment be complied within 30 days.” Court Ruled.


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