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Organised labour sues Ekiti govt. over retirement, demotion in civil service

By Sunday Aloba, Abuja 

Factional Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Ekiti State, Kolawole Olaiya, has dragged the state government to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) to challenge his demotion and compulsory retirement from civil service. In the suit marked NICN/AK/13/2016 filed at the Akure Division of the Court, Olaiya averred that the punishment meted out to him by the Ayo Fayose administration was done out of malice as the government did not want him to continue as the TUC boss despite being affirmed by a valid court judgment. 

Olaiya who is praying the Court to pay him N20 million as damages is also seeking an order directing the defendants to pay his salaries, allowances, incremental rates and entitlements from February 22, 2016 when the demotion and compulsory retirement took effect. 

Defendants in the suit are Government of Ekiti State (1st), Ekiti State Civil Service Commission (2nd) and Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice (3rd). 

The state government accused Olaiya of involvement in partisan politics and an Administrative Panel of Inquiry was set up to investigate the allegation. 

The panel recommended his demotion from the post of Principal Legal Officer Grade Level 12 to the post of State Counsel Grade Level 10 and compulsory retirement on Grade Level 10 from the state civil service with effect from 22nd February 2016. 

Olaiya in his statement of claim before the court averred that he was not given a fair hearing by the panel. Olaiya said the 2nd defendant merely accepted the recommendation of the panel and enforce same without calling upon him to reply against the allegations. 

Other reliefs sought by the claimant include a declaration that his demotion and compulsory retirement on the allegation of partisanship without compliance with the extant Public Service Rules is ultra virus, null, void and unconstitutional. 

Another relief is an order setting aside all steps and disciplinary procedures taken by the defendants against the claimant and the consequential letter of demotion and compulsory retirement of the claimant dated 22nd February 2016 forthwith. 

The TUC chief also sought an order of injunction restraining the defendants, their servants, agents, officers, whosoever/howsoever acting on their behalf from victimizing, persecuting or otherwise penalizing him in the civil service and carrying g out his lawful duties. 

Olaiya contended that it was wrong and illegal for the state government to single him out for punishment among other labour leaders in the for organizing an adoption rally for former Governor Kayode Fayemi on 14th June, 2014 saying the action was a collective decision by the labour movement and not his personal decision. 

The claimant insisted that he is not a card-carrying member of any political party as a union leader or a civil servant and never printed, distributed or pasted posters of any political aspirant as he did not have the wherewithal to do so.

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