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[Just In] Industrial Court nullifies compulsory retirement of Director Rivers Council for Arts and Culture, awards damages

371 Tuesday 24th November 2020

The Presiding Judge, Portharcourt Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Faustina Kola-Olalere has nullified the compulsory retirement of the Acting Executive Director of the Rivers State Council for Arts and Culture Mr. Deede Baede from the State Civil Service on December 28, 2017 as contrary to the Mandatory Retirement Age stated in the Public Service Rules; also declared the altered of Deedee's date of birth without any reason as illegal and wrongful.

The court ordered Rivers State Civil Service Commission, Rivers state Head of Service, and the Hon. Commissioner, Rivers State Ministry of Culture & Tourism to pay Mr. Deedee salaries and allowances from January 2018 to December 28, 2018, on Grade level 16 when his original retirement took effect, with the sum of Five Hundred Thousand Naira as cost of action and Three Million as damages within 30 days.

From facts, the claimant- Mr. Deedee Baede had submitted that he was employed in 1987 that his employment was abruptly terminated in 2017 on the allegation that he has reached the statutory age of 60 years retirement.

He further averred that in an attempt to correct the inadvertent computation of his natural and statutory date of birth by the commission, the commission wrongly ascribed his date of birth as December 28, 1957, instead of December 28, 1958 contained in his file that his retirement from service was done contrary to the mandatory retirement age stipulated in the Public Service Rules, urged the court to hold in the interest of Justice.

However, despite several adjournments, the counsel from Rivers State Ministry of Justice appeared for the defendants four times in the case, neither of them enter an appearance, file any defence process nor cross-examine the claimant.

Delivering the Judgment, the Presiding Judge, Justice Kola-Olalere held that the legal date of birth of the claimant is December 28, 1958, as supported by the content of his Declaration of Age. 

“Since the defendants did not defend this case despite the ample opportunity the Court gave them to do so; it means that there is no contradiction to the evidence of the claimant before the court and that the defendants are ready to abide by the decision of the Court on this case.

“Consequently, I hold that it is unlawful, wrongful, illegal, ultra vires, null and void of the defendants to retire the claimant compulsorily with effect from December 28, 2017, from Rivers State Civil Service as that action of the claimant’s employer was contrary to the Mandatory Retirement Age stated in Rule 020810 (1) of the Public Service Rules, 2008. 

"The claimant’s employment that was compulsorily determined via Exhibit C.6 is accordingly set aside by this Court. Again I hold that the Compulsory retirement of the claimant took effect from December 28, 2018.

“In the circumstances, I find that in the eye of a reasonable man, the claimant’s reputation has been marred without any justification. Consequently, I hold that the claimant is entitled to be paid general damages by the defendants. I hereby order that the defendants are to pay the claimant the sum of N3,000,000.00 (Three Million Naira) only as general damages on this score.”

For Full Judgment, visit the Judgment’s portal