Industrial Court dismisses employment termination claim against FJSC Over Absenteeism

Hon Justice Olufunke Anuwe of the Abuja Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has dismissed the alleged unlawful employment termination claim filed by one Isyaku against the Federal Judicial Service Commission for lacking merit.

The Court held that Isyaku’s allegation about not being given any invitation or opportunity to defend himself which is not a mandatory requirement in the Federal Judicial Service Commission’s Regulation in the disciplinary process for the serious misconduct of absence from duty without leave, is without merit.

From facts, the claimant- Isyaku had submitted he was deployed to the Court of Appeal following his employment, that apart from the query of 12th January 2010, he did not receive any other query or any complaint concerning dereliction of duty prior to the stoppage of his salary in July 2013. On 10th July 2018, he was served with a dismissal letter dated 22nd June 2016 without given any invitation or opportunity by anybody to defend himself before his dismissal from service.

Under cross-examination, Isyaku stated that he was issued a query in January 2010 for absenteeism from work for 3 months, and was absent from office from May 2010 to January 2011 on health grounds.

In defense, the defendant- Federal Judicial Service Commission averred that the reason for Isyaku’s dismissal was the several acts of absence from office without permission for about 5 years and his employment termination was done in line with the commission’s regulation.

The FJSC pleaded that because Isyaku could not be reached for abandoned his duty post, his dismissal letter could not be served on him until 10th July 2018 when his whereabouts were ascertained, and by absenting himself from duty without permission, Isyaku is not entitled to any invitation or disciplinary procedure before his dismissal under the Commission’s Regulation, and urged the Court to dismiss the case in its entirety

In its well-considered judgment, the trial judge, Justice Olufunke Anuwe held that it was Isyaku’s absence from duty without permission that resulted in his dismissal from service by the Federal Judicial Service Commission, and Isyaku failed to convince the court that he was not absent from duty without permission in the period of 6th October 2009 to 12th January 2010.

The Court ruled that Isyaku merely saying that he was never given any invitation or opportunity to defend himself before he was dismissed from service does not satisfy the requirement on him to plead and prove the procedure by which he can be dismissed.

Justice Anuwe affirmed that the FJSC is not obligated under the condition of service to invite Isyaku for a disciplinary hearing and be heard before he can be dismissed for the serious misconduct of absence from duty without leave.

“Consequently, I find no reason to interfere with the procedure adopted in dismissing the Claimant or with the Claimant’s dismissal.” The Court ruled.