Abuja - The National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday ordered the Nigerian Civil Defence and Security Corps (NSCDC) to reinstate 181 dismissed officers and pay their outstanding salaries and allowances.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Oluseun Shogbola, while giving the judgment, said that the order was made following the evidence before the court.
She said that it is very unlawful to terminate employment verbally, even if the officers were employed with fake letters as claimed by the defendants.
The respondents neither tendered the original sample of the letter as evidence to authenticate their allegation.
Shogbola recalled that during the hearing of the matter, she had suggested that if NSCDC was in doubt of the appointment letters issued to the claimants, it should consult a writing expert.
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"This advice, obviously was not utilized; so I now ask “how did NSCDC confirm that the appointment letters were forged?”
The matter had been accepted and heard at Federal High Court, Abuja, in 2010, before the exclusive right to deal with employment and other labour-related matters was vested in the National Industrial Court.
As a result, the case was transferred to NIC and was assigned to Justice Shogbola for final determination in 2011.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Oboni Musa and 180 others had sued the NSCDC Commandant-General, Dr. Ade Abolurin, alleging unlawful termination of their employment.
The claimants joined the Secretary, Civil Defence, Immigration and Prisons Service Board and the NSCDC as second and third defendants in the suit.
They prayed the court to declare that the verbal and oral suspension of the claimants by the NSCDC was null, void and of no effect.
The claimants also sought an order directing the defendants to recall all the claimants to work and to also release the original copies of their letters of employment to them.
They also asked for an order of the court directing the defendants to immediately pay them all arrears of salaries from 2007 till date.
All the claimants in this suit were recruited by the defendants in 2005.
They underwent the mandatory six months training after which they were posted to different states and Abuja for service.
After two years, they were invited by the defendants to submit the original copies of their employment letters for verification.
While the verification process was ongoing, 17 of them were discovered to be fake, and disciplinary measure was taken against those involved.
However, things took another twist when the 1st and 3rd defendants rather than release the other letters, declared that all were forged and verbally asked all the 181 staff to go.
The claimants, being dissatisfied with the action of the defendants, instituted the suit challenging their unilateral action.
The counsel to the claimants, Ibrahim Bawa told NAN that he was happy, that after eight years, the judgment had brought consolation to his clients.
"Even though we lost two of the claimants during the struggle, we are still grateful to God that it was not a wasted effort,’’ he said.
On the other hand, the counsel to the defendants thanked the judge for her erudite judgment while on the bench as today marked her last sitting before the court proceeds on vacation.