The National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) sitting in Lagos has nullified the contentious “proper placement” exercise of some staff of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The court nullified the exercise on Wednesday while delivering judgment in a matter brought before it by Felix Bob Nabena, a senior staff of the agency.
In 2015, the management of NIMASA moved to demote some 20 of its staff from Levels 15 and 16 to Levels 9 and 10. The staff were employed by the previous Director General of the agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi.
However, after the change of government in May 2015 and the sack of Akpobolokemi, attempts were made by the new management of NIMASA to demote the staff in question to their “proper” grade levels. Dissatisfied, the affected staff approached the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) to stop the move.
In its ruling in the matter on Wednesday, the court granted all the reliefs sought by Nabena, except for the refund of his legal expenses.
According to the court, NIMASA and its supervising ministry, the Federal Ministry of Transportation lack powers to downgrade the affected staff.
The court declared that the recommendations of the committee set up in September 2015 by NIMASA and the Federal Ministry of Transportation to review the employment of the claimant and which committee produced a report contained in a document titled “Federal Ministry of Transport Abuja Report of the Ministerial Committee on Personnel Matters in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Volume 1 Main Report” is unlawful and constitutes a breach of the contract of employment of the claimant.
The court further ruled that the report of the said committee is ultra vires its powers, and that the failure of the defendants to give the claimant a hearing before the production of the report is unlawful, and amounted to a breach of fair hearing.
The NICN further issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining NIMASA, its agents, privies or whosever, from giving effect to the report of the said committee on personnel matters.
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