The National Industrial Court, Abuja, on Tuesday affirmed that the removal of Mrs Patience Odumu-Ojobi, an Assistant Chief Accountant with Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Water board, was lawful.
Odumu-Ojobi, in her complaint, said she was removed by her employer because she was standing trial with her husband in a Federal High Court, Abuja, on criminal charge bordering on criminal misappropriation and obtaining money under false pretence.
In addition, she alleged that due process was not followed before she was indicted as she was not informed that she was under investigation.
The claimant further stated that no disciplinary panel was set up nor was she invited to defend herself before the interdiction.
She therefore sought for a declaration of the court that her employer did not follow laid down regulations by the Public Service Rule (PSR), before interdicting her.
She also urged the court to declare her interdiction as unlawful and compel her employer to reinstate, pay and restore her privileges and rights accrued to her.
Odumu-Ojobi further sought for an order of court to direct the defendant to pay her the sum of N50 million as damages and another N5 million as cost of prosecuting the suit.
In delivering the judgment, Justice Kiyersohot Damulak, held that the issue to be determined by the court was to interpret whether or not the claimant ought to be interdicted.
The judge averred that the fact that the claimant was standing trial for a criminal charge was not disputed by parties.
He said because the facts that led to the interdiction was not in argument, the court interpreted whether or not the action was lawful.
According to Damulak, an interdiction in law is when an officer is temporary restrained from performing his/her duties when they are facing or standing trial for a criminal charge pending the outcome or determination of the proceedings.
He therefore said there was no need for the defendant to set up a disciplinary or investigative panel for a matter that was already before a court that was higher than the defendant’s panel.
In addition, he said that the interdiction was in order, just a temporary removal and not a disciplinary procedure like suspension that would have gone through the process of setting up a panel.
He concluded by dismissing the suit for lacking in merit.
Joined in the suit as defendants are the Minister of FCT and Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).
Newsmen report that the claimant who is on grade level 13 was issued the letter of interdiction in Sept., 2018 and is currently being paid 50 percent of her salary.
She was arraigned along her husband in an FHC charged with criminal offence.
An offence which was over an allegation of business transaction that went sour between the defendant’s Co-operative Society and the claimant’s husband.