Court Slams N5 Million On Delta Governor, Commissioner For Secondary Education, Three Others

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The National Industrial Court, Akwa Judicial Division, has awarded the sum of N5 million damages against the Delta State Governor, Commissioner for Secondary Education, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and the Chairman, Post Primary Education Board and the State government.

The money was awarded in favour or Mrs. Omawumi Tomarah, a teacher at Ogidigben Grammar School, Ogidigben, Warri south west local government area of the State.

The Presiding Judge, Hon. Justice John Targema on Thursday October 26th 2023, declared that the action of the Executive Chairman, Post Primary Education Board, Delta State suspending, Mrs Omawumi Tomarah’s salary since October 2019 till date without following the laid down legal procedures was illegal, null and void.

The Court equally ordered the Chairman, Post Primary Education Board, Delta State; agent of the Honourable Commissioner Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, Delta State, the Governor of Delta State and its Attorney General to restore and pay Mrs. Tomarah’s accrued arrears of salaries from October 2019 till the judgement is fully liquidated.

Justice Targema then directed the Chairman, Post Primary Education Board, Delta State and 4 others to allow Mrs Omawumi Tomarah to carry out her duties as a teacher in Ogidigben Grammar School, without further threats to her life, security and salary.

From facts, the claimant, Mrs Omawumi Tomarah had submitted that her salary was suspended by the Chairman, Post Primary Education Board, Delta State because she refused to yield to the request to pay one Omolu, the sum of N800, 000.00 allegedly owed to one late Mrs. Comfort.

She averred that the Omolu, who claimed to be the next of kin of the late Mrs. Comfort wrote to the Chairman, Post Primary Education Board, Delta State to assist him in recovering the sum of N800, 000.00 without providing any Probate or Letters of Administration or any document whatsoever granted by any Court, naming Omolu, as Executor and/or Administrator of the Estate of the said Late Mrs. Comfort to back his claim.

That despite her suspension since October 2019, she was going to work and performing her duties, and argued that the failure of the Chairman, Post Primary Education Board, Delta State and 4 others in advising the complainant to approach the Court which is clothed with the powers to handle such a matter rather than the defendants taking the law into their hands.

In defence, the defendants, Chairman, Post Primary Education Board, Delta State and 4 others alleged that Mrs Tomarah absented herself from her duty post.

According to them, she is allegedly involved in serious financial embarrassment, as she refused to pay an alleged debt, engaged in alleged misconduct contrary to the provisions of the Delta State Public Service Rules.

They averred that when the Chairman, Post Primary Education Board, Delta State inquired why the letters to the claimant had not been responded to, the Acting Principal, Ogidigben Grammar School reported that Mrs Tomarah has not been to work since February 2019 to enable her pick her letters.

They further argued that the Education Board acted pursuant to its powers under the Delta State Public Service Rules, that the salary of the claimant be suspended pending further action.

They urged the Court to hold that a prima facie case of financial embezzlement was against the claimant and contended that her suspension did not bring her employment to an end but a temporary measure to ensure that the claimant shows up to answer to the allegations against her.

In a well-considered judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice John Targema held that the issue of absenteeism and financial embezzlement fall under serious misconduct by virtue of Delta State Public Service Rule but to succeed under those rules, the conduct must be proven to have been investigated.

He stressed that after investigation is concluded and a prima facie case is established, that the Chairman, Post Primary Education Board, Delta State and 4 others stated countlessly that suspension of the Mrs Tomarah’s salary was done before investigation.

Justice Targema held that the argument of Mrs Tomarah that the Chairman, Post Primary Education Board, Delta State and 4 others have no power to investigate the letter written by Omolu, is misconceived and since the allegation involves money which the claimant is said to be owing another, the Chairman, Post Primary Education Board, Delta State has no power to decide one way or the other but to advise parties to go to Court.

The Court stated that the issue of absenteeism levelled against Mrs Tomarah has not been proven by the Chairman, Post Primary Education Board, Delta State and 4 others and there was no justification for suspending the salary of the claimant.

He held that the Delta State Public Service Rules was not complied with by the 1st defendant; that its investigation was not carried out and proven before suspending the salary of Mrs Tomarah as stipulated by Delta State Public Service Rules, before awarding the sum of N5 million as general damages.

https://thenews-chronicle.com/industrial-court-vindicates-teacher-suspended-for-4-yrs-awards-n5m-damages-against-governor/

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