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Reinstate All Course 21 Officers Unlawfully Retired From Service, Court Orders PSC

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Ex-IGP Solomon Arase, The Newly Appointed PSC’s Chairman

The Abuja division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), has ordered the Police Service Commission (PSC) to immediately reinstate all Courses 21 Police Officers, who were unlawfully retired from service.
The court also ordered the PSC to reinstate back into the Force all the affected officers without loss in rank or benefits and be allowed to continue in service until they have attained either 60 years of age or 35 years in service (from their date of appointment as Cadet ASP) whichever is earlier.

The court further ordered that the two Claimants in the suit, ACP Adesina Olunlade and CSP Regina Mogbojuru, and other members of the Course 21 (Force Entrants), who were retired unlawfully are to be paid their salaries from the period of the unlawful retirement till when they are reinstated or lawfully supposed to leave the service either by age or 35 years of service. And that PSC and others are restrained from forcefully retiring the claimants before their retirement age 60 years.

The court also ordered that the records of service of the claimants is to reflect their date of appointment as Cadet ASP as the date of their first appointment.

Above orders were made by Justice Oyebola Oyewunmi, in a judgment delivered in a suit numbered NICN/ABJ/51/2022, filed by ACP Adesina Olunlade and CSP Regina Mogbojuru, who sued for themselves and on behalf of Courses 21 (Force Entrants) of the Police Academy.

Listed as defendants alongside PSC in the suit were: Inspector-general Of Police (IGP) and Force Secretary, Nigeria Police, listed as first to third defendants.
The claimants, ACP Adesina Olunlade and CSP Regina Mogbojuru, who sued for themselves and others, have approached the court by originating summons through their lawyer, Edwin Okoro, after they were unjustly retired and sought for the following reliefs: “a declaration that the decision of the first defendant in her 24th Plenary meeting in relation to the regularization of date of first appointment of the Claimants is valid and subsisting.

“A declaration that their date of first appointment into service, as contained in their appointment letter of 4th August 2002, is not subject to a review by the second and third defendants.

“An order nullifying the unlawful purported retirement from service of some of the Claimants of Course 21 (Force Entrants) by the second and third defendants, contrary to their date of first appointment into service, as contained in their appointment letters respectively.

“An order directing the defendants to reinstate forthwith the claimants unlawfully retired contrary to their date of first appointment into service, as contained in their respective appointment letters.

“An order directing the defendants to pay all them salaries, allowances and other entitlements, by the unlawful retirement, upon their re-instatement.

“An order mandating the defendants to update forthwith their service records, to reflect the 15th of August 2002 as the date of their First Appointments, in line with the decision of the first defendant in her 24th Plenary meeting in relation to the regularization of date of first appointment.

“An order of perpetual injunction, restraining the defendants jointly and severally from unlawfully and prematurely retiring the Claimants of Course 21(Force Entrants), of the Police Academy, affected by the decision of the first defendant in her 24th Plenary meeting in relation to the regularization of date of first appointment.

During the trial of the case, the claimants; ACP Olunlade and CSP Mogbojuru through their counsel, stated that they are Police Officers and members of Courses 21 (Force Entrants) of the Police Academy and that the defendants from 1989 started a policy of advertising for vacancies in establishment of assistant superintendent of Police and Inspectors and in response to that some qualified serving members of the rank and file with University degrees who were interested in the cadet program were directed to resign their appointment and apply for the program afresh like their civilian counterparts and anyone who fails to resign as directed upon being appointed into the Cadet program is deemed to have resigned their earlier appointment.

They also told the court that they are members of the Force and qualified for appointment also applied for appointment to the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police and equally resigned their appointments and were appointed as Cadet ASP on August 15, 2002.
They claimed that the first claimant in response to the complaints of the Courses 18 and 19 as regard their dates of appointments at its 24th Plenary Meeting directed that all officers with similar issues who were directed to resign their appointment before taking up a new one should maintain their date of appointment as Cadet ASP as their date of first appointment.

However, the claimants stated that both the second and third defendants refused to implement this directive in respect of the members of the Course 21 entrants which have affected them negatively.

Responding to the claimants’ suit, the second and third defendants through their lawyer, Joseph Offor, urged the court to dismiss the suit with substantial cost.

The two defendants argued that the NIC in a previous case of CSP Okwuguni and Others vs. Police Service Commission and two others, had gave judicial approval to the directive of the first defendant and the second and third defendants had implemented the decision by reinstating the claimants therein while they have refused to implement same in respect of the Claimants stating that there is no judgment of Court in their favour.

The second and third defendants also stated that there was no cadet scheme in the Force in 1989 and that Claimants cannot rely on exhibit B as it only addressed the issue of payment of lodging to certain cadets who were already police officers before their admission into the Police Academy and that the claimants never at any time resigned their pensionable employment before taking up another pensionable employment and that they can only avail themselves on production of a letter of resignation.

The defendants further argued that claimants’ action arose due to their inability to appreciate the nature of their employment into the Force. And that the first defendant as a recruiter has responsibility to recruit in line with the statutes and not the other way around and first and second defendants have no obligation to carry out any directives that is contrary to the extant laws. Adding that there was no way the first and second defendants could have complied with the directive of the first defendant when claimants on their own notified the two defendants of their due dates of retirement which forwarded to the first defendant who approved same and that it is not true that their actions was discriminatory.

They argued that the judgment of the Court relied on by claimants does not apply to the claimants and that the claimants have reached their mandatory retirement age counting from the date of their previous appointment with the Force.

Justice Oyewunmi in her judgment on the suit, after considering positions of parties and after resolving all issues raised in favour of the claimants held that: “……….this Court is in agreement with the well-reasoned decision as regards the date of appointment of the claimants therein which was held to be the date of their appointment as Cadet ASP. Therefore, there is no reason for this Court to depart from same judgment which it is ordinarily bound by.

“I bear in mind that by the contents of Exhibits N and O, the first and second claimants were born on 22nd February, 1966 and 7th August, 1965 respectively. If my knowledge of mathematics serves me right, first and second claimants will be 60 years of age by 22nd of February, 2026 and 7th August, 2025 respectively. By the provisions of Rule 020810 of the PSR retirement of a Public Officer is upon attaining 60 years of age or 35 years of pensionable service whichever is earlier.

“The first and second Claimants will attain 35 years of service in the year 2037 going by their date of appointment as Cadet ASP as reasoned supra. However, they would have attained 60 years of age respectively on 22nd of February, 2026 and 7th August, 2025 respectively. The effect of this is that their retirement by age will come earlier than their 35 years of service.

“Flowing from the above are the consequential reliefs and for the sake of clarity, I declare and order as follows; “that first and second claimants be reinstated back into the Nigerian Police Force without loss in rank or benefits because they have not attained either 60 years of age or 35 years of service and be allowed to remain in service till the 22nd of February, 2026 and 7th August, 2025 respectively, when they will be 60 years of age.

“Parties are to bear their respective cost. Judgment is accordingly entered.”

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