The National Industrial Court [NIC], sitting in Abuja, has rejected a motion filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service for stay of execution of a judgement it delivered on April 30, ordering the immediate reinstatement of a Clerical Assistant, Franca Osondu, and payment of all her salaries entitlements from 2009 till date.
The court had in the earlier judgment found that the termination of Mrs. Osondu’s appointment by the management of the FIRS was in flagrant violation of her right to fair hearing as protected by Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the extant provisions of the Public Service Rules, 2008.
The court had declared the letter of termination of her appointment on August 3, 2009, as null and void and consequently ordered her immediate reinstatement and payment of all her salaries entitlements from 2009 till date.
However, the FIRS, through its counsel, Ejiro Ejemeyowvi, lodged notices of appeal against the judgment, one at the NIC and the other at the Court of Appeal.
These notices of appeal were equally followed by an application by the FIRS to the NIC, Abuja seeking an order to arrest the judgment of the court pending the outcome of the appeal.
In refusing this application, the court ruled that it was not the habit of Nigerian courts to deny litigants the fruit of their judgment and that the counsel to the FIRS failed to place before the court special and exceptional circumstances that would move the court to deviate from such practices.
The NIC further stated that it is trite that an appeal does not necessarily act as a stay of execution.
The court took judicial notice of the fact that the matter had lasted three years in court and that it would take another five years for the appeal to be disposed off at the Court of Appeal.
It said it was not in the interest of justice to grant the FIRS’ application for stay of execution pending appeal.
Consequently, the NIC refused the application.
H.N. Egbune, Counsel to Mrs. Osondu, applauded the ruling and hailed the court for seeing through the gimmick that the court should “rob Peter so as to pay Paul”.
He said it would bring hope to thousands of public service staff unlawfully sacked from their employment.
“This ruling is an embodiment of common sense, justice, fairness and raises the confidence the masses have on the judiciary as the last hope of the common man,” Mr. Egbune added.