Court orders Nigerian govt to reinstate NEMA spokesperson four years after compulsory retirement

Yushau Shuaib with his lawyers at National Industrial Court
Yushau Shuaib with his lawyers at National Industrial Court

Justice David Isele of the National Industrial Court, NIC, has ordered the immediate reinstatement of a former spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Yushau Shuaib, back into the public service after being forcefully retired in 2013 over an opinion article he wrote on former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Through James Abah of Bamidele Aturu Legal Chamber, Mr. Shuaib had sued the Finance Minister, Federal Civil Service Commission, FCSC, and Federal Ministry of Information over the purported retirement.

Delivering the Judgement, Justice Isele declared that the letter retiring Mr. Shuaib from service has no force of law and is therefore illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever being in flagrant violation of the civil service rules.

The judge also declared “the premature retirement of NEMA spokesperson by the Federal Government without conducting any investigation, without giving him an opportunity to defend himself and without complying with the condition precedent for retirement is contrary to section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and therefore illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and null and void.”

The court, therefore, ordered the immediate reinstatement of Mr. Shuaib to his duty post as the Chief Information Officer without any loss to seniority, salaries, position and other emoluments.

The judge ordered the federal government to compute and pay within 30 days (before Xmas/New Year) all Mr. Shuaib’s salaries, allowances and other emoluments due to him from June 2013 to the judgment date (November 22, 2017) and interest at the prevailing commercial bank’s rate on his total package.

The case centred on the retirement of Mr. Shuaib over an allegation of criticising Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala in an opinion article on lopsided appointment in the public service. Early in his statement of defence before the court, Mr. Shuaib had stated that Public Service Rule 030421 gave him the right to write an article. The section states that “Nothing in this rule shall be deemed to prevent an officer from publishing in his own name, by writing, speech or broadcast matters relating to a subject of general interest which does not contain a critic of any officer.”

He also cited Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution which states that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”

Mr. Shuaib, an award-winning writer, was offered automatic employment by Delta State and federal government after winning state and presidential awards of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) scheme in 1993.

He had served at various organisations as Public Relations Officer and Press Secretary including Delta State Govt House, Asaba, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, National Press Centre, and National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.

After his purported compulsory retirement, Mr. Shuaib activated PRNigeria, a press release platform for critical institutions in Nigeria serving the military, security, intelligence and response agencies among others.

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