Court reinstates Kogi teachers 7 years after sack

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The National Industrial Court has nullified the purported dismissal of three class teachers, Godwin Anene, Egwaba Godwin, and Egwaba Anthony, from the service of Kogi State Government and ordered that the government pay over N30 million salary arrears to the affected workers.

It added that the three teachers be reinstated to their respective positions without loss of rank as if they never left their employment in the state.

The Presiding Judge, Lokoja Judicial division, Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi, held that the huge funds would cater for their salary arrears from January 2016 to the month of June 2022, and that they are entitled to arrears of salaries from July 2022 till date.

Oyewumi held that if Kogi State Government, State Universal Basic Education Board, State Local Govt Service Commission, and 2 Others intend to dismiss the three teachers in view of the outcome of the screening Committee that was done in 2016, they must of necessity follow the procedure for dismissal as provided in the Public Service Rules.

The judge dismissed the objection of the state government to the charges brought before the court by the teachers for lacking merit and held that the position of the State Government that Ibaji Local Government Area is not a juristic personality is very far from the truth and a misconception of the provisions of the Constitution.

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It further held that whilst the teachers are claiming that their employment was terminated, the Kogi State Government, State Universal Basic Education Board, State Local Govt Service Commission, and 2 Others are alleging dismissal and there is no document before the court evincing either termination or dismissal and there is no evidence that the procedure for dismissal under the Public Service Rules was followed by the State Government.

“The law is settled beyond argument that employment with statutory flavour can only be determined in accordance with the procedure for termination or dismissal of employment set out in the Rules and Regulations applicable to the employment. Hence, any other manner of termination or dismissal inconsistent therewith is null, void, and of no effect,” the judge ruled.

Lastly, the court awarded the cost of N300,000 is awarded in favour of Mr. Godwin Anene and 2 others and ordered that the judgment is to be complied with within 30 days.

From facts, the Claimants- Godwin Anene, Egwaba Godwin, and Egwaba Anthony had submitted that the present administration embarked on a staff screening exercise in 2016 and stopped paying their salaries. They posited that they have been receiving their salaries before the screening exercise and that their employment was purportedly terminated after the screening exercise.

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They also averred that the termination of their employment is not in line with the procedure laid down in the Public Service Rule as they were not given any query or any notice of termination or salary in lieu of notice and it has been so difficult to take care of their families and dependents due to the action of the defendants against them.

In defense, the defendants- Kogi State Government, State Universal Basic Education Board, State Local Govt Service Commission, and 2 Others averred that the conduct of the open screening exercise wherein Mr. Godwin Anene and 2 others appeared and were openly found to have breached the terms of their employment and which breaches were made obvious to them on the spot and again carried in the screening report served as enough warning, query and notice in compliance with the rules of their service.

Counsel to the Kogi State Government also submitted that Mr. Godwin Anene and 2 others have not pointed out any provision of the law or regulation that a notice of termination of appointment via a publication is an invalid mode of termination of appointment in any case.

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In addition, Counsel submitted that the joinder of the 2nd defendant- Ibaji Local Government Area ab initio automatically rendered the action or suit incompetent and urged the court to decline jurisdiction.

In opposition, counsel to Mr. Godwin Anene and 2 others maintained that his clients did not commit any offence to the best of their knowledge to warrant the purported termination of their employment and, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.

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