His Lordship, Hon. Justice I. J. Essien of The National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Lagos Judicial division, on Thursday 14th February 2019 in a judgment dismissed the suit filed by LIEUTENANT YAHAYA YAKUBU Rtd (claimant) against THE NIGERIAN NAVY and 2 others (defendant) for being statute bared in accordance with Public Officers Protection Act.
The claimant by an originating summons filed on the 20/3/2017 sought against defendants among others for AN ORDER compelling the defendants to re-instate the claimant into the Nigerian Navy With effect from the date of his purported retirement without any loss of seniority, having regard to the Court of Appeal’s nullification of his trial by a General Court Martial and an order of discharge and acquittal entered in his favour by the said Court Of Appeal in Appeal No. CA/C/129/2001.
In his written address, the defendant counsel argued that the course of action in this suit arose on the 27/11/2003 when the claimant was compulsorily retired from the services of the defendant and that this action was filed on the 4/5/2016. He argued that from when the cause of action arose to when this suit was filed, a period of 12 years and 6 months and has become statute-barred, it has an effect on the jurisdiction of the court and it robs the court of jurisdiction to determine the case.
In opposition, the claimant counsel in his written submission filed argued that the provision of Public Officer Protection Act does not apply where a public officer abuse his office.
He argued that by issuing the letter of compulsory retirement the defendant engaged in a review of the decision of the Court of Appeal, that the act of the defendant amount to an abuse of public office.
After careful evaluation of all the processes filed, and the submissions of the learned Counsel from both sides. The Court presided by Hon. Justice I. J. Essien expressed thus;
“I must not also forget to add that the investigation of the act of a public officer to determine the existence of malice or abuse is condition upon the action being instituted within the period prescribed by section 2 of the Public Officers Protection Act.
“I therefore find no merit in the line of argument canvassed by the claimant counsel. Upon the issuance of the letter of compulsory retirement of the claimant as contained in letter of compulsory retirement dated 27/11/2003, the claimant ought to have instituted this action within the time prescribed by section 2(b) of the Public Officers Protection Act.
“Instead, the claimant upon being compulsorily retired took a course of petitioning the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria instead of instituting the action challenging the compulsory retirement.
“By his own election to pursue that course, he lost his right of action. He is barred from instituting this action now after a period of over 14 years.”
The court dismissed the suit for being statute barred in line with Public Officers Protection Act.
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