The National Industrial Court of Nigeria sitting in Lokoja, Kogi State, has set aside the compulsory and untimely retirement of four permanent secretaries in the state civil service by the state government.

Justice Zainab Bashir voided the compulsory retirement in her judgement in the consolidated suit number NIC/LKJ/10/2017.

he said the governor had no constitutional rights to retire the permanent secretaries from service.

Mrs Bashir said the retirement by the state government through the state Civil Service Commission contravened extant public service rules and regulations. 

She said removal was the movement of an officer from one position to another while the other is an exit from service at the attainment of 60 years of age or 35 years in service.

According to her, Section 208 of the constitution empowered the governor to appoint and remove from service: public officers like the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Head of Service (HOS), and Permanent Secretaries among others.

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She said Section 208(1) (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended on which the governor relied to fire the permanent secretaries only provided for removal rather than retirement.

The jurist further explained the differences between removal and retirement.

"Removal was the movement of an officer from one position to another while the other is an exit from service at the attainment of 60 years of age or 35 years in service," she said.

According to her, that section of the constitution does not avail the governor the power to retire any public servants from office.

She said it only allowed him to remove them from such offices and return them to their former positions prior to the appointments.

She further held that since the claimants were career civil servants, they could only be returned to their previous positions.

Mrs Bashir, then granted seven of the eight reliefs sought by the claimants and ordered that they be reinstated immediately.

She also added that their outstanding entitlements be paid them within 60 days.

The permanent secretaries, Sani Adamu, Dahiru Shaibu, Austine Unubi and Abraham Adavi were on September 13, 2015, compulsorily retired from service.

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