The National Industrial Court, Abuja, on Thursday dismissed a suit filed by a former staff, Stephen Onwujekwe, against Ajaokuta Local Government Area Council for failure of the claimant to file the suit within the three months stipulated period.
The claimant, Onwujekwe had approached the court, seeking an order for the restoration of his name on the payroll of the defendant.
Onwujekwe equally sought for a declaration that his employment with the defendant still subsists.
He also sought payment of his salaries and entitlements from 2012 when his salary, bonuses and entitlement were stopped, till date.
Delivering judgment, Justice Rakiya Haastrup, held that the suit did not satisfy the provisions of Section 2 (a) of the Public Officers’ Protection Act, 2004.
She held that Section 2 (a) of that Act stipulates that any counter-action against public officers should be instituted within three months.
She further held that the suit, which was instituted on May 18, 2017 failed to meet the three-month requirement.
According to her, the claimant cannot claim ignorance of the date when his salary was stopped, which was Jan. 2012.
She said the claimant ought to have filed the suit within three months of the actual cause of action.
She said: “if an action against a public officer is status barred, having not been brought within the prescribed period of three months.
“There will be no basis for investigating the conduct of the public officer which gave rise to the action.
” In light of the foregoing, I do therefore hold that the defendants in this suit are entitled to the protection under the law, by virtue of Section 2 (a) of the Public Officers’ Protection Act, 2004″, the judge said.
Mr Akingbade Oyelekan, the claimant’s counsel, submitted that his client, who was an Health Officer on a study leave with pay took part in the screening exercise by the defendant sometime in 2011 and returned back to school only not to get paid since after the screening exercise.
The defence counsel, Mr Abdulwahab Mohammed, in his submission, argued that the claimant instituted the suit outside the three-month period allowed by law.
Mohammed further argued that the claimant’s salary was stopped for his refusal to present his original certificates during the screening exercise for verification of documents and qualifications conducted by the defendant.
He said that the defendant followed due process, as the claimant was lawfully and duly relieved of his appointment and his salary stopped over his failure to present his credentials for the screening exercise.
Kogi State Local Government Service Commission and Attorney General, Kogi were listed as defendants in the suit.