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Court declares removal of BYSIEC staff unconstitutional

The National Industrial Court has declared the removal of two staff of the Bayelsa Independent Electoral Commission Mr Prefa Freedom and Mr Barry Ikosomi as unconstitutional.

In his ruling, Justice Bashar Alkali of the Yenagoa Judicial division ordered the Bayelsa State Government and its Attorney-General to pay Mr Freedom and Mr Ikosomi the sum of twenty-five point five million Naira and forty-five point five million naira being their total monthly net pay for the period and severance gratuity.

The claimants, in their submissions, told the court that on November 30, 2009, they were appointed commissioner of the Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission and member of the state INEC.

On February 15, 2012, the state government announced the dissolution of the state INEC and the removal of the claimants as commissioner and member of the commission, terminating their appointment through the government-owned media without recourse to the constitutional procedure laid down for their removal.

In 2012, they instituted a case against the defendants and judgment was given in their favour but was later struck out by the apex court for lack of jurisdiction and they were asked to present the case before the National Industrial court

Ruling in the matter, Justice Alkali held that the appointment of the claimants was protected to some extent by statutory provisions and cannot be removed at the whim and caprice of the State Government that the procedure for bringing their appointment to a lawful end must be complied with.

The court also held that the dissolution and removal of claimants on the 15th of February 2012 were unconstitutional and unlawful in regard to the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 {as amended}.

Reporting by Lawrence Afolabi; editing by Adeniyi Bakare