Kogi PDP Hails Court Verdict Reinstating Sacked Forest Guards

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The Kogi State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has hailed the recent judgment of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Lokoja Judicial division on Wednesday where it delivered judgment against Kogi State Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, reinstating 90 sacked Forest Guards.

It would be recalled that the court, presided over by His Lordship, Hon. Justice Zaynab Bashir, declared as wrongful termination of the employment of 90 Forest Guards, noting that their sack was not in accordance with the Public Service Rules, and ordered the immediate Payment of Salaries of those affected.

In a statement signed and issued by Achadu Dickson, Director Media and Documentation, he described the ruling as “a vindication that whatever dark, directionless and inhumane decision that is wrongfully taken by Gov Yahaya Bello, the truth which is light would overcome his falsehood and wickedness.”

The PDP called on Governor Bello to obey the court ruling, adding that the declaration to reinstate the sacked workers by the court of competent jurisdiction is a victory for democracy and those oppressed.

The party called for the immediate payment of the sacked forest guards’ emoluments and warned against any attempt to delay in the implementation of the court ruling.

The PDP further called for the reinstatement of the over 15,000 sacked Kogi state workers, alleged to have been wrongfully laid off by Gov. Bello under the guise of a screening exercise that has lasted for over two years and advised those wrongfully dismissed not to be discouraged but to be patient adding that God willing, they all would be reinstated in a few months to come.

PDP lamented that the state, since its creation, has never experienced suffering and hardship by the citizens as is being witnessed under Gov. Bello and berated the quality of leadership which it said has no purpose, focus and vision.

It would be recalled that the Claimants via a suit filed on 12th April, 2017 Claiming from the defendants jointly and severally inter alia for A DECLARATION that as Civil Servants in the service of Kogi State Government are entitled to salaries, allowances and trainings for the effective performance of their duties as Forest Guards and AN ORDER for the payment of salaries and allowances of the Claimants.

The Case of the Claimants as Forest Guard with reference No.KG/MENR/OFF/173/27 having undergone training however their salaries and allowances have not been paid since December 2015 and training were not organized for them.

The Claimants further maintained that their appointments which is governed by civil service Rules and other government instruments and were never issued any query, warning or disciplined since their assumption of duty on 1st December, 2015, were disengaged in January, 2016 by the Governor of Kogi State through an executive order during the probationary period in line with the terms and conditions of their provisional appointment while the defendants appointed another set of forest guards in February, 2017 and have since trained them. The Defendants further stated that the suit against them is frivolous, misdirected and should be dismissed with cost.

Delivering her ruling, Hon. Justice Zaynab Bashir, expressed thus: ” I have painstakingly evaluated and understood all the processes filed by learned Counsel for the parties in this suit. I have reviewed the testimonies of the witnesses called on oath, watched their demeanor and carefully evaluated all the exhibits tendered and admitted.

“Employment with statutory backing must be terminated in the way and manner prescribed by that statute, and any other manner of termination inconsistent with the relevant statute is null and void and of no effect.”

Going by the above authority, it is evident that the procedure for terminating a provisional appointment in the instant suit is not in accordance with the Public Service Rules and I so hold.

On the whole, it is crystal clear that the termination of the employment of the claimants did not follow the statutory procedure. I am convinced that the claimants have proven their case. I find in the final analysis that the termination of the Claimant’s employment was improper, unlawful, null and void. It is trite that where there is an improper removal of an employee from an employment protected by statute, the consequence is that the employee has not been removed from office. In other words, once dismissal or termination of employment is declared null and void, there is nothing standing in the way of the Claimants from having their jobs back with its attendant rights, benefits and privileges.

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