The National Industrial Court sitting in Sokoto on Wednesday ordered the immediate reinstatement of Sambo Nawawi as the Sokoto State Auditor General.
Mr Nawawi was prematurely retired from service.
The court, which described Mr Nawawi’s premature retirement as null and void, ordered the state government to pay him all entitlements.
Mr Nawawi had filed the suit challenging his wrongful retirement having not reached the statutory 60 years retirement age as provided for by the law applicable to the office of the Auditor General.
The case was instituted in November 2016 from Kano Division before its transfer after establishment of the Sokoto Division in 2017.
The claimant, through his counsel, Sufi Basheer, had argued that his appointment was wrongly terminated before he reached the stipulated age of 60 years contained in Auditor-General’s appointment rules.
Mr Bashir argued that mentioned laws, interpretations and modifications by the defendant’s counsel, to justify its action, were misrepresentation of statutory fact. He said the relevant law that governs Auditor General service had been in place
He prayed the court to reinstate his client arguing that the general civil service rules are not applicable to Auditors-General position.
The respondent counsel, and Sokoto State Attorney General, Suleiman Usman, had argued that laid down procedures were adhered to in retiring the claimant.
Mr Usman had argued that the law provides that civil servants should reach 60 years of age or 35 years in service.
He argued that the civil service rules are general and binding on all civil servants, saying the law mentioned by the claimant was ancient as new ones had been formulated since 1999.
He laced his arguments with citations from Nigeria’s Constitution, Sokoto State Public Service Regulations; Sokoto State Modification of laws and Sokoto State Contributory Pension Scheme.
But Justice Kiyashot Damlak, in his judgment, dismissed the defendant’s submissions, and held that the claimant had proved his case beyond all reasonable doubts.
He held that the 1999 constitution has given specific term of retirement for office of the Auditor General with corroborating lawful provisions.
Mr Damlak said specific lawful provisions could not be altered with general provisions, saying laws are not ambiguous. He held that the Sokoto State laws and subsequent modifications become voided as constitution supersedes all the provisions.
He said based on testimonies and exhibits before him, the claimant was wrongly retired from active service at the age of 52, after being in service for 35 years, in 2016.
The judged consequently granted all the claimant’s prayers and ordered for his immediate reinstatement into the office as State Auditor General. The judge also ordered all accrued salaries and entitlements paid.
Mr Damlak further declared the claimant’s retirement as unlawful, and set aside all retirement papers and correspondences between him and the state government..
He held that his lawful retirement date should be 2024.
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