IS THE CHAIRMAN OF EFCC AND THE EFCC ONE AND THE SAME? (POWERS OF THE CHAIRMAN OF THE EFCC)
CASE TITLE: EFCC v. OLOWONIHI (2020) LPELR-50701(CA)
JUDGMENT DATE: 25TH AUGUST, 2020
PRACTICE AREA: LABOUR LAW.
LEAD JUDGMENT: YARGATA BYENCHIT NIMPAR, J.C.A.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:
This appeal borders Labour Law.
This Appeal is against the decision of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Abuja and delivered on the 26th February 2019, Coram: Hon. JUSTICE SANUSI KADO.
The Respondent, an employee and Management staff of the Appellant was accused by the Acting Chairman of the Appellant for being responsible for adverse publications against the Appellant. Despite Respondent’s denial, his computer and telephones were seized and he was made to write a statement. Thereafter, the Acting Chairman redeployed him from heading the Training Institute and was placed in the Acting Chairman’s office without any designation or desk. Respondent was subsequently queried and suspended for 2 years without pay and on recall; the Respondent was later demoted and made to write a letter of apology and was requested to forfeit his outstanding salaries. The letter was signed by the Secretary of the Commission on the orders of the Acting Chairman. The initial allegation against the Respondent was labelled offence against discipline but was demoted on the offence of breach of confidence.
The Respondent was proceeded against on the provisions of the Staff Hand Book which was not made by the Commission as required by law but the Chairman of the Appellant. With issues joined by the pleadings, the matter proceeded to trial with the Respondent as the sole witness for the claimant while the Appellant called 4 witnesses. Parties filed and adopted written address and after due consideration, Judgment was partly entered for the Respondent. It is against that decision that this Appeal was filed.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
The Court determined the appeal on these issues couched as follows:
- Whether the judgment delivered on 26th February 2019 when the Learned trial Judge has lost his recollections of the facts in issue is not a nullity, having been delivered outside the ninety (90) days allowed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
- Whether the learned judge did not err in law when it held that the Chairman of the defendant (now Appellant) and the defendant are two separate legal entities and that the defendant’s staff Regulations Handbook 2007 is invalid on the ground that it was approved by the Chairman of the defendant and not by the defendant.
- Whether the learned trial judge did not err in law when it held that the defendant (now Appellant) breached the claimant’s (now Respondent) right to fair hearing.
- Whether the learned trial Judge, having nullified the Appellant’s Staff Regulation, was right in re-instating the Respondent to his former rank of Detective-Commander on grade 17, a rank created by the Appellant’s Staff Regulation.
On the whole, the Court found no merit in the appeal and accordingly dismissed same.
- GOVERNMENT AGENCY- ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION: Whether the Chairman of EFCC and the EFCC are one and the same; whether the power to make/approve the staff handbook of the EFCC is vested in the EFCC and not the chairman
- GOVERNMENT AGENCY- ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION: Whether a court can order the reinstatement of a staff of the EFCC after nullifying the EFCC staff handbook
- CONSTITUTIONAL LAW- BREACH OF RIGHT TO FAIR HEARING: Instance where the proceedings of an administrative/disciplinary panel will be held to be in breach of the right to fair hearing.