Abuja---His Lordship, Hon. Justice Sanusi Kado of the National Industrial Court, Abuja Judicial Division has declared the action of the Federal Housing Authority in retiring ARC. U. M. Yakawu, MR. A. Y. Shehu and TPL R. O. Attah from service before attaining the age of 60 years based on redundancy and without any disciplinary proceeding culminating in the recommendation for their retirement as ultra vires, null and void, ordered the Housing Authority to reinstate them back to their position as General Managers from 12th February 2014 to the date of their respective retirement in line with the conditions of service with the sum of 1,500,000 costs of action.
However, Justice Kado dismissed the Managers monetization and housing claims for lack of proof by credible evidence and pleading in support of the reliefs that it is not the duty of the courts to fill gaps in pleadings.
From facts, the Claimants had averred that they were purportedly removed from the services of the FHA before attaining the age of 60 years from birth or serving for 35 years, and without any disciplinary action that their termination of appointment by the Housing Authority was without due process sought for reinstatement or payment of their full entitlement up to retirement dates.
However, the Federal Housing Authority on its part contended that Claimants were retired owing to restructuring which resulted in the redundancy of the offices, and were paid their entitlements, salary in lieu of notice in line with the terms of their contract.
Learned Counsel B. J. Akomolafe Esq appearing with O. I. Ojo Esq submitted that the Claimants failed woefully to establish that their employment was wrongly terminated that the termination of the employment of the Claimants was right and satisfies the requirement of law and in fulfilment of the provisions of the Public Service Rules and the conditions of service urged the court to dismiss this case in its entirety with substantial cost.
In opposition, Claimants’ Counsel EteyaOgana, Esq argued that the employments of the Claimants is regulated by the Federal Housing Authority Act, the Federal Housing Authority staff Conditions of Service of Employee and the Public Service Rules that the Authority claim that there was restructuring could not be believed and further that there is nothing before the court to show that the exit and repatriation allowance was paid urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering judgment after careful evaluation of the submissions of both parties, the Presiding Judge, Justice Sanusi Kado held that where an employer relied on redundancy, retrenchment, reorganization, restructuring or unproductivity to end a contractual relationship, the employer would be expected to have facts or the law in support, that to place the burden on the claimant will lead to a miscarriage of justice.
“I have scrutinized the evidence before the court and it is clear to me that the 1st Defendant did not comply with the extant provision of the conditions of service in retiring the Claimants based on redundancy.
“There is no evidence before the Court to show that as at the time the two Management Committees of the 1st Defendant, which were made up of political office holders and career public servants were dissolved by press release announced via radio, on 17/5/2013, the posts of the Claimants have become redundant. The reason being that the dissolution of the two committees cannot amount or be equated to a declaration of redundancy as no such declaration was made.
“With the nullification of the retirement of the Claimants, the Claimants remain in the services of the 1st Defendant with all their entitlement. But, they have failed to prove by credible evidence the exact amount they are entitled to. The Claimants claim as per this relief is vague. It is not grantable.
“This court has also held that in labour relations, the burden is on the claimant who claims monetary sums to prove not only the entitlement to the sums but how he/she came by the quantum of the sums; and proof of entitlement is often by reference to an instrument or document that grants it.