The National Industrial Court in Lagos has declared as wrongful and unlawful the dismissal of a former General Manager, Legal Services, with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mahmud Alabidun.
The ex-GM was suddenly relieved of his job sometime in October 2011 after working for four years with the agency.
The management of FAAN, under the watch of the then Aviation Minister, Mrs. Stalla Oduah, said Alabidun was dismissed, as “he did not fit into the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan in the Aviation sector.”
But Alabidun had headed for the court contesting the legality of his sacking. In his suit marked NICN/ LA/74/2014, he joined President Goodluck Jonathan and Oduah as first and second defendants respectively.
The sacked GM urged the court to determine “whether the power conferred on the President to appoint and remove persons from public office extends to the plaintiff’s office as the General Manager, Legal, with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.”
He prayed the court to invalidate his sacking and award a cost of N1bn against the President and Oduah in their official capacities “for unlawfully interfering with the plaintiff’s employment as a public servant.”
In their objection, however, the defendants said, “the claimant was relieved of his position as General Manager, Legal of FAAN in 2011 along with others, who the Interim Board believed, after a careful study, could not fit into the Transformation Agenda in the Aviation sector of the current administration.”
But ruling in the matter, Justice Benedict Kanyip said the reason adduced for Alabidun’s sacking was not justified.
He said the defendants did not show the nature of restructuring carried out within FAAN that necessitated the plaintiff’s sacking.
The judge said the defendants’ claim could not succeed since the office of the GM, Legal Services was not scrapped upon Alabidun’s sacking.
The judge said, “The claimant in the instant case was the General Manager, Legal Services. In disengaging him from his employment, was the office he occupied scrapped in order to justify the re-organization? The defendants did not tell the court. If anything, Exhibit MBA5 in paragraph 2 had even asked the claimant to hand over the affairs of his unit to the Deputy Manager, Legal Services, presupposing thereby that the office of the General Manager, Legal, was still intact.
“All of this means that the defendants have not succeeded in justifying the reasons for which the claimant was disengaged, and I so find and hold!”
Kanyip therefore ordered that the claimant’s full salaries from October 4, 2011 to April 29, 2015 be paid to him within the 30 days of the judgment.
The court also awarded N50,000 as cost against the defendants, adding that failure to pay as ordered the judgment sum would attract interest at an annual rate of 10 per cent.
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