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.



Industrial Court orders Forestry Research Institute to reinstate 3 Senior Staff

952 Tuesday 7th May 2024

The Presiding Judge, Akure Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Kiyersohot Damulak has set aside the purported employment termination of Mr Bolanle Ojo and 2 others from the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria for being unlawful.

The Court ordered Mr Bolanle Ojo and 2 others be reinstated to their erstwhile positions in the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria with the payment of their salaries and allowances from the date of termination 28th March 20233 till date and thereafter.

From facts, the claimants- Mr Bolanle Ojo and 2 others had submitted that they were senior staff and had no prior notice of disciplinary proceedings against them and no query was issued to them before the termination of their employment, and the alleged offence of misconduct was never brought to their notice.

Mr Bolanle Ojo and 2 others further averred that they were not afforded the opportunity to testify personally and were not aware of any witness who testified against them and were not given the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses.

In defence, the defendants- Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Environment prayed the court to strike out the names of the Federal Ministry of Environment for non-disclosure of any cause of action.

The defendants maintained that Mr Bolanle Ojo and 2 others were given prior notice of the allegations against them in the letters of invitation to appear before the disciplinary committee. That the allegation of want of fair hearing cannot fly, that Mr Bolanle Ojo and 2 others chose to send in their letters of resignation rather than defend the allegations against them, and urged the Court to dismiss the case.

In opposition, the claimants' counsel rejected the defendants’ assertion and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.

Delivering judgement after careful evaluation of the submissions of both parties, the Presiding Judge, Justice Kiyersohot Damulak dismissed the Federal Ministry of Environment's objection and held that Mr Bolanle Ojo and 2 others' termination letters show that the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria acted with the approval of the Federal Ministry of Environment, which is a sufficient cause of action against the ministry.

The Court stated that a look at the content of the counter affidavit discloses that Mr Bolanle Ojo and 2 others did not attend the disciplinary committee meeting and it's obvious that they could not have met, heard and cross-examined any witness.

Justice Damulak held that the evidence of the letters sent to Mr Bolanle Ojo and 2 others to respond to is not before the court, and the report of the staff disciplinary committee (if there was any) cannot in itself be such evidence that the defendants are expected to show a counterpart of the letters evidencing receipt by Mr Bolanle Ojo and 2 others.

“I have looked at exhibits HHK 2 and 3, they are mere pieces of paper without weight in that they do not have any trace of a letter ever received by the defendants. They are photocopies and not certified. They are documents of doubtful origin and source. More so, the alleged resignation letters, if actually sent, should be in the custody of the defendants yet they have not been produced.” Justice Damulak ruled.

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