The court has exclusive jurisdiction in civil causes and matters relating to or connected with any labour, employment, trade unions, industrial relations and matters arising from workplace, the conditions of service, including health, safety, welfare of labour, employee, worker and matter incidental thereto or connected therewith.



Industrial Court quashes 15-year dismissal of Chief Prison Assistant from Correctional Service

937 Thursday 6th June 2024

The Presiding Judge, Yenagoa Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Polycarp Hamman has nullified the purported dismissal letter issued by the Controller-General of Correctional Service to Chief Prisons Assistant, Godwin Oriji dated 13th of January, 2009 for being wrongful, baseless, vexatious and void.

The Court ordered the Controller-General of Correctional Service to immediately reinstate Godwin Oriji back to service with payment of all his salaries and entitlements from 13th January 2009 till the execution of the judgment.

Justice Polycarp held that Godwin Oriji has proved his case before the Court and the failure to afford Godwin Oriji the opportunity to defend the allegations against him (if any) has vitiated and rendered nugatory his dismissal from service.

From facts, the Claimant- Chief Prisons Assistant, Godwin Oriji had submitted that he was never informed of any allegation from the Controller-General of Correctional Service and no query was issued to him prior to the annual leave he embarked upon and to his surprise he received a letter of dismissal from service dated 13th of January, 2009 on the 17th of March, 2009 a day after his resumption.

Godwin Oriji averred that he was never invited to appear before any panel or given any opportunity to defend any allegation against him and all efforts to get justice were to no avail.

However, despite the numerous opportunities extended to the Controller-General of Correctional Service and one other by the Court, the defendants failed to appear to defend the suit.

Mr. Godwin’s counsel, K. C. Ajinwo, Esq. argued that the officer who allegedly executed the dismissal letter was not in the country as at 13th January 2009, and further that since his client's evidence is unchallenged, the Court should accept and act on it as sufficient proof of the case.

In a well-considered judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Polycarp Hamman stated that the contention of Mr. Godwin that he was not given fair hearing by the Controller-General of Correctional Service before his dismissal from service cannot be overlooked by the Court.

The Court reinstated that the principle of natural justice and fair hearing as provided in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is sacrosanct in any disciplinary proceeding by employers of labour.

Justice Polycarp held that there is nothing before the Court to show that Godwin Oriji was given any query to bring the allegations against him to his knowledge for his response, or that a panel was set up to enable him make his representations with a view to exculpating himself of the allegations.

visit the judgment portal for full details