By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Justice Danladi Umar, has been served with a notice of contempt of court following his refusal to obey a judgment of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), Abuja.
The Court had reinstated Mr. Francis Ogar as a senior staff of the CCT, after a 13-year-long legal battle he instituted over wrongful dismissal and breach of his fundamental human rights.
Justice Maureen Esowe of the NICN, had in her judgment, reinstated and promoted Mr. Ogar to Level 15 as Assistant Director of the CCT and granted the plaintiff the cost of N2m damages.
The court also declared as null and void the dismissal of the plaintiff from the employment of the defendant through letter dated April 20, 2005 as wrongful and of no effect.
Also Justice Esowe partially upheld the further amended statement of claim where the plaintiff asked, amongst other prayers for the reinstatement of his employment from which he was dismissed on April 20, 2005.
He also asked that his salaries and entitlements be paid from the February 2005 commencement till judgment in the case is given, executed and judgment sum liquidated.
Ogar, who was as at February 2005 Senior Executive Officer (SGL 9), Accounts, will now resume at Level 15 as Assistant Director.
The suit was initiated on May 12, 2005 at the Federal High Court, Abuja before it was later transferred to the National Industrial Court following an objection raised by the defendant on May 18, 2015.
The complainant thereafter filed a statement of complaint before the court on February 2, 2016.
The complainant claimed that he was being persecuted over allegations, as published in Punch Newspaper of April 2005, that some staff of the CCT had petitioned the EFCC, ICPC and the Police that the late CCT Chairman, Justice Sambo, and some management staff had embezzled the sum of N50m from the Tribunal.
Ogar said that at the time of the said petition, he had been posted to the CCT Calabar Zonal Office for about one year and had no cause to be in Abuja where the CCT Headquarters is located.
He alleged that he was however fingered amongst other staff for being responsible for the petition and was summarily shown the way out of public service in alleged disregard of the public service rule and the 1999 Constitution.
Ogar explained that out of frustration, he had no other choice than to tender his resignation on April 7, 2005 for fear of being thrown out of service unjustly and to save his career and reputation.
He further alleged that he had taken the matter to court after his letter was duly received and acknowledged. However, the letter was rejected and he was summarily dismissed from service.
The plaintiff sought among others that he be reinstated to his employment by the defendant and salaries and entitlements commencing from February 2005 till judgment of the case is given, executed and judgment sum liquidated.
“The sum of N10 million being general damages for psychological and physical torture suffered by the plaintiff by his dismissal by the defendant “.
The defendant, on the other hand, in the issues for determination in its final written address, asked the court to determine “whether the complainant on the state of his pleadings and the evidence he had adduced legally admissible evidence that supported the reliefs claimed.
“Whether the defendant was entitled to dismiss the complainant for the reason of refusal to answer query issued by the defendant”.
The defendant submitted that only a photocopy of the letter of dismissal was tendered by the complainant where the defendant claimed it is legally inadmissible before the court.
Also, the defendant argued that a query dated March 8, 2005 was issued to the complainant which he did not respond to prompting the dismissal letter dated April 20, 2005 with reference No. CCT/HQ/252/P/112.
However, the Complainant insisted he had tendered his resignation letter dated April 7, 2005 and asked the court to declare the dismissal letter dated April 20, 2005 by the defendant as wrongful, null and void and of no effect.
However, after about one year of the delivery of the judgment, authorities of the CCT had yet to comply with the verdict.
Consequently, the claimant (Mr. Ogar), pursuant to Order IX, Rule 13 of the Judgement Enforcement Rules, notice of consequences of disobedience to order of court was on April 10, 2018, served on the CCT Chair, Mr. Umar and Mr. Victor Isibor, the Principal Registrar 1 of the CCT, who are the alleged contemnors.
According to the Form 48, notice of consequences of disobedience to order of court, “Unless you Danladi Yakubu Umar and Victor Isibor as Chairman and Principal Registrar 1 of the defendant obey the court orders as contained in the judgment of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria delivered by Honourable Justice M.N Esowe on the 26 May, 2017 which you are aware of, as your counsel Dickson Anie attented court on the 26 May, 2017 and a copy of the certificate of judgment having also been served on you on the 26 July, 2017 via the claimant counsel’s letter of 17 July, 2017; you will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison. The certificate of judgment of 26 May, 2017 and the claimant counsel’s aforementioned letter are hereby attached.”