Industrial Court Dismisses Claim Against Corporate Affairs Commission

The Presiding Judge, Ibadan Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Dele Peters has dismissed the allegation of unlawful dismissal claim filed by one Oyewale against the Corporate Affairs Commission for lacking merit.

The Court held that the dismissal of Oyewale was not wrongful, illegal or unconstitutional and there was no breach of any of the fundamental rights in the process leading to the dismissal of Mr Oyewale.

From facts, the Claimant- Oyewale had submitted the Committee headed by the acting Registrar-General of the Commission took a decision that every member of staff summoned or alleged for one infraction or another all of whom were over sixty in number should be pardoned and a letter of warning/exoneration should be given to them; that he was the only one not given such letter and was denied promotion examinations from 2016 till he was dismissed despite the fact that the Committee never found him wanting in any of the allegations.

Mr. Oyewale stated that a query issued since 2017 was served on him in 2019 when he wrote the Management concerning the omission of his name during promotion; that the query dated 2016 for which all the alleged employees were to be exempted/exonerated was the basis of the query dated 2019; that his dismissal violates the Conditions of Service and other legal instruments regulating his employment.

The Counsel to the Corporate Affairs Commission submitted that Mr. Oyewale was dismissed on 2nd September 2020 but did not file his action until 9th December 2020 and that the suit is caught by the statute of limitation under the Public Officers Protection Act.

The Corporate Affairs Commission averred that Oyewale failed to show in any material particular how his dismissal violates the Conditions of Service and prayed the Court to dismiss the case of the Claimant in its entirety.

In opposition, the counsel to Oyewale contended that the action of the Commission conferring on itself the power to hear and determine a criminal allegation against his client amounts to violation of his fundamental right to fair hearing, and the length of time between the first query on 14th June 2016 and when he was issued letter of dismissal was more than 4 years was contrary to Public Service Rules, which mandates that all disciplinary procedure must commence and be completed within 60 days except where it involves criminal cases.

Counsel urged the Court to grant the reliefs sought.

Delivering judgement after careful evaluation of the submissions of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Dele Peters dismissed the Corporate Affairs Commission objection and held that the statute of limitation does not apply to employment causes and matters to oust the jurisdiction of the Court to hear and determine the case.

However, Justice Peters reinstated that the law requires Oyewale to situate any allegation of wrongful dismissal within the confines of the condition of service tendered and bring to the fore any infractions of the same or failure of the Commission to comply with any of the requisite provisions in bringing the relationship between them to an end.

“Unfortunately, the Claimant did not call any of the over 60 staff who were allegedly pardoned and issued letters of warning to go and sin no more. The Claimant ought to at least do that so as to give fillip to his assertion respecting the issue of malice he alleged on the part of the Defendant. It is not sufficient for an assertion to be made.” Justice Peters

The Court held the Corporate Affairs Commission complied with the procedure as set out in the conditions of service in dismissing Oyewale.