The National Industrial Court in Abuja, on March 31st, 2023, delivered a judgment by Justice Ayodele Obaseki Osaghae ordering the immediate reinstatement of Mrs. Victoria Ayantuga, an Assistant General Manager at the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), who was wrongfully dismissed from the organization. Mrs. Ayantuga, along with some of her colleagues, had their employment unlawfully terminated in a highly publicized manner via newspapers on June 1st, 2021.
This wrongful suspension and dismissal led to a protracted legal battle, culminating in a judgment that favored Mrs. Ayantuga. The court declared the actions of the NSITF Management Board and the former Minister of Labor & Employment, Chris Ngige, as “unlawful, illegal, null and void, and of no effect whatsoever” in accordance with the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund Act and Staff Conditions of Service. The court’s order set aside the dismissal.
This judgment was rendered in a suit marked NICN/ABJ/223/2021, initiated on August 27th, 2021, by Mrs. Ayantuga to challenge her dismissal from the federal government agency. Justice Obaseki, in her ruling, emphasized that the facts presented by the claimant in the supporting affidavit were unchallenged by the defendants, thus accepted and acted upon by the court.
The court’s judgment, delivered on March 31st, 2023, was comprehensive and left no room for ambiguity. It directed Mrs. Ayantuga’s immediate reinstatement and the payment of all outstanding salaries, increments, and allowances dating back to her suspension in July 2020. The judgment, as outlined in the official document available on the National Industrial Court of Nigeria’s website, included several key declarations:
Employment Status: The court affirmed the validity of Mrs. Ayantuga’s employment with the NSITF and her entitlement to all remuneration and entitlements.
Immediate Reinstatement: The court ordered the immediate reinstatement of Mrs. Victoria Ayantuga to her position at the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, with no loss of seniority, rank, or grade level. She was to be placed in the position of Deputy General Manager she would have held if her employment had not been illegally terminated.
Payment of Salaries and Allowances: NSITF was instructed to promptly pay Mrs. Ayantuga all her outstanding salaries, increments, and allowances from the date of her suspension in July 2020 until the execution of the court’s order.
Costs Awarded: In addition to the above, the court ordered the payment of costs of action amounting to N500,000.00 in favor of Mrs. Ayantuga.
Despite the court’s clear directives, subsequent efforts to fully comply with the judgment, including Mrs. Ayantuga’s complete reinstatement to her position, payment of outstanding salaries, preservation of her rank and seniority, and payment of the cost of action, have not been implemented. Legal representatives have corresponded with the relevant offices to ensure compliance with both the court order and the Minister’s directives.
The Minister of Labor & Employment, Rt. Honourable Simon Lalong, intervened to uphold the rule of law and ensure justice was served. He emphasized the administration’s commitment to adhering to the rule of law and not allowing any organization or government institution to disregard court orders.
Mrs. Ayantuga’s wrongful dismissal, despite her outstanding contributions and special promotion, was deemed unacceptable by the court, which cited international labor standards in support of its decision.
For more details on this case, you can reference the official judgment on National Industrial Court of Nigeria website… https://nicnadr.gov.ng/judgement/details.php?id=7804