Court fixes May 24 for virtual proceedings in suit by suspended OGFZAA manager Omosule
A National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja has affirmed virtual proceedings in the suit by a suspended manager of the Federal Government-owned Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority Administration (OGFZAA), Funmilayo Omosule, who is expected to give evidence in the case.
During the virtual proceedings, Omosule is to give evidence from his new base in the United States of America (USA) with the newly introduced virtual court proceedings.
Although the matter was slated for April 4, the Industrial Court was forced to shift the date to May 24 following the absence of the Federal Government counsel in court.
When the suit was mentioned, a letter from a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Paul Erokoro, was presented, indicating that the counsel on the court record, Peace Ogbonna, would not be in court due to engagement in the Court of Appeal for other matters.
The letter requested a shift in the hearing date of the suit.
However, counsel to the Claimant, Dr Tunji Abayomi, faulted the approach of the Federal Government lawyer adding that he was not copied with the letter as required by law.
Abayomi pleaded with the court to invoke Order 31 Rule 5 of the National Industrial Court to compel a hearing of the suit as earlier scheduled.
Justice Olufunke Anuwe in a brief ruling recalled having earlier granted an accelerated hearing into the suit filed in 2016.
The judge affirmed the adoption of virtual proceedings to fast-track resolutions of all issues but declined to compel hearing of the matter as pleaded by lawyer to the plaintiff.
Justice Anuwe subsequently fixed a new date of May 24 and directed that the defendant must be put on notice for the fresh hearing date.
Both OGFZA and Omosule had been locked in a fierce legal battle to resolve the legality or otherwise of the plaintiff’s suspension, following his petition against some management staff of the agency on alleged corruption.
Omosule, who is the claimant in the suit, is seeking the sum of N50 million as exemplary and general damages over his alleged suspension.
OGFZAA had via a letter dated April 18, 2011, suspended Omosule as the manager of its Abuja office on the grounds that he had refused to comply with its letter dated December 3, 2010, which had directed him to present the originals of his credentials for verification.
Omosule, however, refuted the claim of the authority, stating that he made available to the defendant Certified True Copies (CTCs) of his educational certificates/credentials, including GCE ‘O Level certificates and degree certificates as instructed.
Omosule had claimed that the originals of his credentials were misplaced in untraceable circumstances as at 2010 when the report to submit originals was made.
The claimant also averred that the CTCs of his certificates submitted to the defendant were certified by the issuing institutions, which included the West African Examination Council and the University of Ado-Ekiti, then Ondo State University, Ado Ekiti, respectively.
The claimant is seeking the court‘s declaration that he was still a staff of the organisation and entitled to all the rights, privileges and benefits due to him by reason of his employment.
He is praying the court for an order directing the defendant to reinstate him to the position of a director, on grade level 17, a position he claimed his contemporaries were holding currently.
Omosule is equally seeking the order of the court to direct the defendant to pay all his outstanding salaries, benefits and entitlement since 2011.
In addition, he is asking the court to order the defendant to pay him the sum of N50 million as exemplary and general damages.
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