Court Declares Dismissal Of Customary Court President As Illegal, Orders Re-Instatement - Welcome to Uju Ayalogu's Blog

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Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Court Declares Dismissal Of Customary Court President As Illegal, Orders Re-Instatement

Court Declares Dismissal Of Customary Court President As Illegal, Orders Re-Instatement

His Lordship, Hon. Justice Elizabeth Oji of the National Industrial Court, Lagos Division has declared the purported dismissal of President Customary Court Lagos, Chief Awosola Godwin by the Lagos State Judicial Service Commission as illegal, ordered payment of salary from July 2017, till when his tenure would have ended in 2019 with the sum of One Million, Three Hundred Thousand Naira cost of action within 60 days.

The Court held that the Commission breached Chief Awosola right to a fair hearing and also failed to comply with the procedures laid down in the relevant laws in the determination of the Awosola employment.

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From facts, Claimant’s- Chief Awosola 1st tenure as President of the Customary Court lapsed in 2014 and same was renewed for another five (5) years which was expected to lapse in 2019, submitted that In May 2017, he received a letter from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of Lagos State Ministry of Justice notifying him of a petition written against his person an allegation of official misconduct.

In compliance with the directive contained in the letter, the Claimant wrote his reaction to the petition and took same to the office of the DPP for submission which was not successful. He submitted that he was later invited by the commission to appear before the Investigation Committee in respect of the earlier mentioned Petition and stated his defence.

Claimant’s submitted that the commission dismissed him on the ground of dereliction of duty and general inefficiency and maintained that the mode and manner in which he was dismissed was not in compliance with the provisions of the relevant laws.

However, the defendant- LSJC submitted that members of the Judicial Service Committee deliberated on the report of the Disciplinary Committee that found a serious case of dereliction of duty, inefficiency against the Claimant contrary to the procedure laid down under the Customary Court Laws of Lagos State and Oaths of Office taken by the Claimant and enforced their recommendation.

The Defendant argued that the Claimant, whose employment is five years renewable tenure, is a contract staff and the procedure adopted to dismiss him was in accordance with the provisions of the Lagos State Public Service Rules 2015.

Delivery Judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Oji held that Chief Awosola appointment was NOT on contract basis that the Claimant’s appointment is part of the civil/public service population and is duly provided for by a separate law; the Customary Courts Law of Lagos State 2011.

“I have considered the procedure adopted by the Defendant leading to the dismissal of the Claimant, this in my view, falls short of the requirement of the Lagos State Public Service Rules 2015.

“…having found that the claimant was not a contract staff, then it can be concluded that the procedure adopted by the Defendant, cannot be in consonance with the provisions of all the relevant and cited laws. In that case, this issue can be concluded at this point, and the dismissal declared illegal.

“The Defendant is hereby ordered to re-instate the Claimant to the position he was with all the benefits attached to the position before his employment was unlawfully interfered with. This Order recognises that Claimant’s tenure would have lapsed by 2019. He is, therefore, to be placed in the position he would have legitimately been had he continued in office till 2019.

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