Hon. Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi of the Abuja Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has nullified the purported suspension and subsequent dismissal of Abubakar Umar from the Nigerian Customs Service for being in contravention of all the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), Customs and Exercise Management Act, Public Service Rules, The African Charter on Human and Peoples Right, Labour Conventions and all known principles of natural justice, equity and good conscience.
The Court granted an order compelling the Nigerian Customs Service Board, Nigerian Customs Service, Comptroller of Customs General and Hon. Min. of Finance and Budget to reinstate Abubakar Umar as an Officer of the Nigerian Customs Service with all rights, privileges and pre-requisites attendant of his status (Chief Superintendent of Customs) with payment of all his salary arrears and allowances from when he was suspended on 8th March 2018 till he is reinstated and continue to pay his salary as an employee of the Customs Service, with the sum of N250,000.00 as cost of action within 30 days.
Justice Oyewumi ruled that an employer must follow strictly the provisions of the PSR before it could dismiss an erring employee that Abubakar Umar’s suspension from 8th March 2018 till his dismissal in October 2021, which is 3 years and 7 months is clearly in flagrant breach of the condition of his service, and it is so unlawful for an employer under statute to stretch the disciplinary procedure of any erring Officer as in this instant for more than 60 days, to do otherwise contravenes the provisions of the PSR.
The claimant- Abubakar Umar had submitted that on 7th March 2018 he was given 48 hours to answer query on alleged misconduct and without a fair hearing, he was suspended on the 8th of March, 2018. He was subsequently given another query on alleged gross misconduct on the 14th of May 2020 about 2 years two months from the date he was suspended and was subsequently dismissed from service in 2021.
In defense, the defendants- Nigerian Customs Service and 3 Others challenged the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain the case on the ground that the Case is statute-barred in line with the Public Officer’s Protection Act, and for being frivolous and vexatious.
Justice Oyewumi ruled that Abubakar Umar’s suspension from 8th March 2018 till his dismissal in October 2021, which is 3 years and 7 months is clearly in flagrant breach of the condition of his service, and it is so unlawful for an employer under the statute to stretch the disciplinary procedure of any erring Officer as in this instant for more than 60 days, to do otherwise contravenes the provisions of the PSR.
“It seems so clear as crystal that the defendants are confused as to the offence the Claimant committed, hence in a breath they alleged that his act was a misconduct and, in another breath, he was alleged to have committed a serious misconduct. Parties are not allowed to speak from the two sides of their mouth, this is because a spring cannot produce two types of water at the same time.” The Court ruled