The Presiding Judge of the National Industrial Court, Yenagoa Judicial division, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Bashar Alkali has nullified the purported dismissal of Bayelsa State Counsel, Barrister Jonah Okah dismissal from the employment of Bayelsa State Civil Service commission.
The Court ordered Bayelsa State Government and State Civil Service Commission to Okah immediate reinstate Bar. Okah to his status as a Senior State Counsel, payment of salaries and entitlements from the date of the purported dismissal 23rd November 2016 till date within 30 days.
From facts, Learned counsel to the claimant, Sunny Adolor Esq. contended that the Bayelsa State Civil Service Commission and the State Government (1st and 2nd Defendants) failed to abide by the provisions of Public Service Rules that the claimant dismissal was devoid of fair hearing urged the court to grant all the reliefs sought.
However, counsel to the Defendants contended that claim of the breach of fair hearing was misleading that claimant was given fair hearing, invited to appear before the panel and had the opportunity to respond to the allegations made against him. And upon the seven-man panel recommendations, the claimant was dismissed from service of the 1st and 2nd defendants on record urged the court to dismiss the case.
Learned counsel for the defendants further submitted that the onus of proof has always been on the claimant to show that his dismissal is not justified that there is a presumption in favour of an officer's dismissal, once he absents himself from duty, without leave.
The learned counsel to the claimant contended that the defendant failed to follow due process over the dismissal of the claimant from service.
Delivering judgment, the trial Judge, Justice Alkali held that the procedure adopted by the Defendants in dismissing the Claimant falls short of what was enshrined in Public service rules thereby offending the spirit of the provisions of Section 36(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) on fair hearing.
"What baffles me is that the issue of instigation of the public against the government was never part of the misconduct investigated by the panel. Even the issue of false allegation against government officials was dropped by the panel because according to them, same is subjudice. I wonder how these two issues formed the basis of dismissing the Claimant.
"From the pleadings and exhibits before me, DW AG 001- 004 which are the attendance report submitted to the Investigative Panel and which forms the basis of the Claimantís dismissal were not supplied to him, and he was also not given access to these documents." Justice Alkali ruled.
In all, the Court set aside the dismissal of the Claimant and all steps taken in that regard, ordered the 1st and 2nd Defendants to reinstate the Claimant to his status as a Senior State Counsel without prejudice to entitlements and promotions which have accrued to him during the period of his dismissal with 30 days.