From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
The National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Kogi on Thursday set aside the compulsory and untimely retirement of four Permanent Secretaries in the state civil service by the State Government.
Justice Zainab Bashir who voided the compulsory retirement in her judgement on the consolidated suit number NIC/LKJ/10/2017 in Lokoja, said the governor had no constitutional rights to retire them from service.
Bashir said the retirement by the state government through the state Civil Service Commission contravened extant public service rules and regulations.
She said that Section 208(1)(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 As Amended on which the governor relied to fire the permanent Secretaries only provided for removal rather than retirement.
The jurist went further to differentiate between removal and retirement as one connotes a movement from one position to another while the other, an exit from service at the attainment of 60 years of age or 35 years in service.
She said that 208 of the constitution empowered the governor to appoint and remove from service, public officers like the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Head of Service (HOS), Permanent Secretaries among others.
The section of the constitution, according to her, does not avail him the power to retire except to remove them from such offices back to their former positions prior to the appointments.
She held that since the claimants were career civil servants, they could only be returned to their previous positions as they were not due for retirement through attainment of 60 years of age or 35 years of service.
Justice Bashir therefore granted seven of the eight reliefs sought by the claimants and ordered that they be reinstated immediately adding that their outstanding entitlements be paid them within 60 days.
The Permanent Secretaries, Alhaji Sani Adamu, Dr Dahiru Shaibu, Austine Unubi and Abraham Adavi were on September 13, 2015, compulsorily retired from service and they, in their individual capacities, approached the court seeking redress.
They sought eight reliefs including a declaration that their appointments into the Civil Service of Kogi State and positions of Permanent Secretaries vide the defendant’s letter of 28th June, 2011 remained valid, extant and and subsisting.
They also sought orders to set aside the retirement, reinstate them with full benefits, and payment of all arrears of salaries, benefits and emoluments accruable to them from 13th September 2017 to date.