Home JUSTICE & JUDICIARY Industrial Court declares Mohammed’s non-resignation before party primary as unlawful, okays suspension

Industrial Court declares Mohammed’s non-resignation before party primary as unlawful, okays suspension

President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Justice Benedict Kanyip, has dismissed the case filed by Mr Jungudo Mohammed against the National Health Insurance Authority challenging stoppage of his salary since July 2022 for lacking merit.

The Court declared Mr Mohammed’s participation in the primaries of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) into Jama’are/ Itas Gadau Federal Constituency of Bauchi State while still in service without resignation as unlawful and invalid.

Justice Kanyip held that Mr Mohammed’s non-resignation of his appointment in the Public Service as a public servant before venturing into active politics flies stubbornly in the face of the clear provisions of Section 66(1)(f) of the Constitution and the Public Service Rules and ordered him to pay National Health Insurance Authority the sum of N300k cost of action within 30 days.

From facts, the claimant- Mr Jungudo Mohammed had submitted that while in the employment of the National Health Insurance Authority, he contested the primary election of PDP into Jama’are/ Itas Gadau Federal Constituency of Bauchi State conducted on 22 May 2022 and won and the agency issued him a query on his participation in the primary election while still in Service.

He stated that he replied to the query and the payment of his salaries was stopped and the National Health Insurance Authority by its letter of 9 August 2022 served him with a Notice of Suspension on the account of his participation in the aforesaid primary election.

Mr Mohammed asked for determination among others whether by the combined construction of the provisions of section 40 and section 66(1)(f) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), is not entitled to participate in politics and in fact contest into an elective office provided he resigns, withdraws or retires from his employment thirty days before the election.

In defense, the defendant- National Health Insurance Authority averred that Mr Mohammed is bound by the conditions of service spelt out in the Public Service Rules and is at liberty to contest any political office he wishes to vie for, but to do so, he must resign as prescribed by the 1999 Constitution and the PSR.

The agency argued that Mr Mohammed while being a public officer, cannot participate in an election organized under the Electoral Act 2022 without first resigning his position in the public service, and is under a duty to ensure that his personal interest does not conflict with the duties and responsibilities he owes the Federal Government of Nigeria under the auspices of the agency.

In opposition, Mr Mohammed’s counsel submitted that the provisions of the Public Service Rules (2008 Edition) that seek to limit the participation of his client in the primary election of his political party other than as provided for under sections 40 and 66(1)(f) is inconsistent with the constitutional provisions, that the requirement of resignation 30 days before the election applies only to the general election, not the primaries; and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.

Delivering judgment after careful evaluation of the submissions of both parties, the President of the Court, Justice Benedict Kanyip ruled that Mr Jungudo Mohammed’s participation in the primaries of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) into Jama’are/ Itas Gadau Federal Constituency of Bauchi State while still in service is unlawful and hence invalid.

The Court held that Mr Mohammed’s suspension, the stoppage of his salary and the commencement of disciplinary action against him by the National Health Insurance Authority are valid and lawful.

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