The National Industrial Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, has reinstated the permanent secretaries sacked in 2015 by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
The court declared the sack as unconstitutioal before the law. The presiding Judge, Bashir Alkali held that the state government overstepped its constitutional bounds by treating the civil servants like his political appointees.
Wike in a statement issued by his government in November 2015 removed and compulsorily retired 14 permanent secretaries. Aggrieved by the action of the governor, the permanent secretaries approached the INC praying the court to declare the action of the governor as illegal and unconstitutional.
The claimants also in their prayer asked the court to make orders setting aside their compulsory retirements, reinstating their salaries and other entitlements as well as awarding them N600m as damages. “This suit is rightly instituted and the court has jurisdiction to adjudicate over this matter.
It is crystal clear that all the claimants have shown existence of common grievance so that the judgement will be given jointly and severely”, the Judge said. Alkali said according to the constitution, a civil servant is employed to work for 35 years under the civil service regulations before retirement at the age of 60.
“The power of the governor to appoint is not absolute. Civil servants do not hold their offices at the mercy of the governor. Even if they are removed, they should be returned to the civil service. They are not like commissioners or special advisers, whose tenures are tied to the governor. “Civil servants cannot be removed at will without compliance to the rules.
If the governor does not want them as permanent secretaries, they should be returned to the service as directors. “The security of tenure and rights of the civil servants are determined by the civil service Commission. The claimants are not political appointees and cannot be retired by the governor”, he said.