….Claimant demands N550m compensation, N214m entitlements
The National Industrial Court Abuja has opened a case against the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation, over the alleged illegal dismissal of a civil servant and senior staff of the ministry, Mrs. Bilkisu Sanusi.
Other defendants in the suit are the Head of Service, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and the Accountant General of the Federation who opened their defence on Tuesday, over alleged corrupt practices.
The claimant is demanding the sum of N550million in damages, and an order of the court compelling the defendants to pay all her salaries, entitlements, fringe benefits, bonuses, and all other benefits incidental to her position as a staff of the Budget Office of the Federation, amounting to the sum of N214, 250, 000, allegedly withheld illegally and unlawfully by the defendants.
The presiding Judge, Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi, had in February 2023, ordered the defendants to open their defence, while the case was earlier adjourned till April 4, and later adjourned till Tuesday, May 30, when the defendants opened their defense, tendered their exhibits, and closed their defense.
Mrs. Sanusi had in a suit against the defendant’s alleged abuse of governmental powers to illegally and unlawfully withhold her salaries and entitlement for daring to expose alleged corrupt practice being perpetuated in the Budget office of the Federation.
In the suit marked NICN/ABJ/ 96/22, which was led in evidence by her counsel, Martin Opara, and had been cross-examined by the Director, Legal, in the Budget Office, Mrs. M. D Agada, representing the second and third defendants, and one Aliyu Abdulkadir, representing the Attorney General of the Federation, Mrs. Sanusi had closed her case in February while the trial Judge, had adjourned the matter for the defendants to open their defense.
The claimant had, in her statements of fact alleged that her salaries and other entitlements were stopped by the defendants after she discovered and tried to expose monumental corrupt practices by some staff of the Ministry of Finance (third defendant) in the office of the Director General, Budget Office of the Federation (second defendant).
She further claimed that the issue led to the removal of her name from payment vouchers, while efforts were made to frustrate her, adding that the second defendant also, without any justification, caused her secret and open files domiciled with the Budget Office of the Federation Registry to be removed and kept in an unknown place to frustrate her from proceeding on her retirement.
In her statement, she also claimed that the second defendant, in a bid to frustrate her, also instructed its allies in the finance department to withhold and deny her due financial and material benefits and rights incidental to her employment and office in the Budget Office of the Federation.
Speaking with our correspondent on Tuesday, the claimant’s counsel, Martin Opara, noted that Mrs. Sanusi is asking the court to declare that the termination of her salaries and entitlements before and from November 26, 2021, till date by the first, second, third, and fifth defendants is an illegal, unlawful and gross abuse of governmental powers as such null and void and of no effect.
“That, with-holding of the claimant’s secret and open files and fringe benefits, bonuses and Christmas, Easter and Sallah gifts and all other benefits howsoever called incidental to her position as a staff of the Budget Office of the Federation by the second defendant first is an illegal, unlawful and gross abuse of governmental powers as such, null and void and of no effect.
“That the first defendant lacks the power to impose punishment or suspension of salary on the claimant safe as stipulated by the Public Service Rule which rule must be adhered to as expressly stipulated as doing otherwise amounts to a nullity.
“The claimant also seeks an order of the court compelling the defendants to pay her all her salaries, entitlements, fringe benefits, bonuses and all benefits however called incidental to her position as a staff of the Budget Office of the Federation, amounting to N214, 250, 000 withheld by the defendants illegally and unlawfully.
“She also wants the court to compel the second defendant to forthwith release her secret and open files to enable her to proceed with the processing of her retirement
“She wants the court to award her the sum of N500million in damages in her favour against the defendants and another N50million for the inconveniences which the defendants made her suffer,” Opara said.
Meanwhile, Justice Oyèwùnmí adjourned the matter till July 17, for the adoption of the final written address.