Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) and its suspended Abuja Liaison Office Manager, Funmilayo David Omosule, have at last agreed for an out-of-court settlement in resolving the legal battle instituted against the authority since 2011.
Both OGFZA and Omosule had been locked in fierce legal battle at the National Industrial Court (NIC) to resolve the legality or otherwise of Omosuleâ€™s suspension, following his petition against some management staff of the OGFZA on alleged corruption.
The agency had via a letter dated April 18, 2011, suspended Omosule as the manager of the Abuja liaison office, on the grounds that he refused to comply with its letter dated December 3, 2010, which had directed him to present before the OGFZA board, the originals of his educational certificates/credentials for verification.
Omosule, however, refuted the claim of the authority, stating rather that he made available and forwarded to the defendant, Certified True Copies (CTCs) of his educational certificates /credentials, including GCE â€˜O Level certificates and degree certificates, claiming that â€œthe originals were misplaced in untraceable circumstances as at 2010 when the report to submit originals was madeâ€.
The claimant added that the CTCs of his certificates submitted to the defendant were certified by the issuing institutions, including the West African Examination Council and the University of Ado-Ekiti, then Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti.
However, at the last court proceedings on May 26, the parties, through their counsel, Paul Erokoro (SAN), and Joseph Tobi, for the defendant and claimant, respectively, eventually agreed to resolve the seven-year legal battle out of the court.
This prompted the trial judge, Justice Anuwe, to adjourn to July 10 for parties to report to the court, the terms of settlement agreed upon, which the court will adopt as its final judgment in the matter.
Before coming to the Industrial court in 2016, the claimant had in 2011 approached the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to demand his fundamental rights to fair hearing. He also in 2012 wrote the AGF, ICPC and the Police to investigate the alleged criminal acts of the OGFZA officials involved in the matter.
He disclosed that both the AGF and the ICPC in their various letters directed the OGFZA to withdraw the suspension and pay him all his entitlement, adding that nothing was done till date.
Omosule, who in his statement of claim urged the court to declare his suspension as wrongful, oppressive, unjustifiable and therefore null and void, had in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on July 23, 2015, alleged that he was punished because of his stand against corruption.
According to him, â€œIn 2011, as Manager, Abuja Liaison Office of Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority Onne, Rivers State, I raised eyebrow that instead of management buying a brand new generator for the Abuja liaison office, the old one was refurbished and supplied as brand new, which was one of the numerous criminal transactions carried out with N100 million to furnish Abuja and Lagos offices of the authority.
â€œThe above earned me an unlawful suspension from office without pay since 2011 to date with an unintelligent and fictitious claim that I forged Degree and NYSC Certificates,â€ he said. The claimant in the letter, however, urged the president to institute a probe into the matter and prosecute those liable of the alleged criminal act in line with his administrationâ€™s stand against corruption.
Omosule, in the suit urged the court to set aside the purported letter of suspension and order his immediate reinstatement to his employment.
Besides, he applied for a mandatory order of the court directing the defendant to pay him all his outstanding salaries and allowances due to him since April 2011, up till the time of his reinstatement and another mandatory order placing him on grade Level 17 and the position of his mates who were managers like him in April 2011 are currently occupying in the employment of the defendant.