After four years of protracted legal battle the Nigerian government has finally obeyed the judgment of the National Industrial Court order directing it reinstate embattled civil servant, Yushau Shuaib.
Mr. Shuaib was chief information officer on Grade Level 14 at the Ministry of Information and culture before he was controversially prematurely retired in 2013.
But a letter of reinstatement with reference no. FMIC/LEG/307/VOL.1/122, and signed by the Director of Human Resources Management, S.U. Ewa on behalf of Minister Lai Mohammed, informed Mr Shuaib that he had been reinstated into the civil service with immediate effect.
The reinstatement letter reads in part, “I am directed to refer to the National Industrial Court judgment dated 22nd November, 2017 on the above subject and to inform you of the Honourable Minister’s directive that you be reinstated into the civil service as Chief Information Officer, SGL14 with immediate effect”, the letter said.
“You are therefore requested to report to the undersigned for further instruction, please.”
In a September 17 letter to Mr. Mohammed accepting his reinstatement, Mr. Shuaib appreciated the government’s decision to comply with the judgment of the National Industrial Court delivered on November 22, 2017.
Mr Shuaib, while thanking the Minister, requested the prompt settlement of his outstanding salary arrears from June 2013 to date and gave his account details for remittance of his entitlements.
Justice David Isele of the National Industrial Court (NIC) had in his judgment ordered the immediate reinstatement of the former spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), into the public service.
Mr. Shuaibu was forcefully retirement in 2013 over an opinion article he wrote on former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
The civil servant had sued Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) and Federal Ministry of information over the premature retirement.
James Ode Abah of Bamidele Aturu Legal Chambers handled the case for Shuaib.
Delivering the judgment, 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 Mr. Shuaib’s immediate reinstatement to his duty post as 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 all salaries, allowances and other emoluments due to Mr. Shuaib from June 2013 to the judgment date and interest at the prevailing commercial bank’s rate on his total package.
The case centered on the illegal and unlawful retirement of Mr. Shuaib for criticizing Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, in an opinion article on lopsided appointment in the public service.
Early in his statement of defence, Mr. Shuaib had stated that Public Service Rule 030421 gave him the right to write opinion articles.
According to that section: “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: “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 the Federal Government after winning State and Presidential Awards of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) scheme in 1993.
He has served at various organisations as Public Relations Officer and Press Secretary, including at the Delta State Government House, Asaba; the state’s Ministry of Information, Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal 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.
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