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Court orders three sacked federal housing managers reinstatement

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

After six years wait, three former General Manager of Federal Housing Authority (FHA) have heaved a sigh of relief following a judgement by National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja that the Federal Government reinstate the affected official to their post before being retired from service.

The former general managers, ARC. U. M. Yakawu, MR. A. Y. Shehu and TPL R. O. Attahwere retired by the government in 2014 before attaining the 60 years mandatory age for retirement. 

After hearing both parties’ arguments, the industrial court declared on Tuesday that retiring a staff based on redundancy, without any disciplinary proceeding before recommending his retirement, was null and void.

Delivering judgement on the case, Justice Sanusi Kado, added that the apex government should pay the affected staff the sum of N1.5 million as costs of the action.

Justice Kado, however, dismissed the staffs’ monetization and housing claim for lack of proof of evidence and that it was not the duty of the courts to fill gaps in pleadings for any claimant. 

Delivering judgment after careful evaluation of the submissions of both parties, Kado said: “I have scrutinized the evidence before the court and it is clear to me that the 1st Defendant did not comply with the extant provision of the conditions of service in retiring the Claimants based on redundancy. 

“There is no evidence before the Court to show that at that time, the two Management Committees of the 1st Defendant, which were made up of political office holders and career public servants were dissolved by press release announced via radio, on 17/5/2013, the posts of the Claimants have become redundant. The reason being that the dissolution of the two committees cannot amount or be equated to a declaration of redundancy as no such declaration was made

“With the nullification of the retirement of the claimants, they remain in the services of the 1st Defendant with all their entitlement. But, they have failed to prove by credible evidence the exact amount they are entitled to. The Claimants claim as per this relief is vague. It is not grantable.

“This court has also held that in labour relations, the burden is on the claimant who claims monetary sums to prove not only the entitlement to the sums but how he/she came by the quantum of the sums; and proof of entitlement is often by reference to an instrument or document that grants it”.

Earlier during legal proceedings, the claimants averred that they were purportedly removed from the services before attaining the age of 60 years from birth and without any disciplinary action taken against them before terminating their appointment by the Housing Authority.

The claimant also stated that after their retirement, the government was yet to pay their full entitlement up to retirement dates.

FHA, meanwhile, contended that the government retired the claimants owing to restructuring which resulted in the redundancy of the offices, and were paid their entitlements, salary in place of notice in line with the terms of their contract. 

The counsel to the defendants, Akomolafe submitted that the claimants failed to establish that their employment was wrongfully terminated because the government actions conform with provisions of the Public Service Rules and the conditions of service urged the court to dismiss this case in its entirety with substantial cost.

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