IN THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE ABUJA JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT ABUJA
BEFORE HIS LORDSHIP HON. JUSTICE B. B. KANYIP, PHD
PRESIDENT, NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA
DATE: SEPTEMBER 2, 2020 SUIT NO. NICN/ABJ/143/2018
1. Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Power,
Works and Housing Headquarters
2. Federal Civil Service Commission -Defendants
John Onuche, for the claimant.
N. B. Shani, Principal State Counsel, with A. J. Reuben-Nnwoka, Senior State Counsel, and Tobi Oladele, for the 1st defendant.
Ms N. R. Onyebuenyi, with O. E. Bob-Manuel, for the 2nd defendant.
1. The claimant took out this action vide a complaint filed on 21st May 2018 together with the accompanying originating processes. To this, the defendants filed their respective defence processes. By order of Court, the originating processes of the claimant were amended. Accordingly, by his amended statement of claim, the claimant is praying for the following reliefs against the defendants:
(a) A declaration that the suspension was wrong.
(b) Re-instatement of the claimant back to his work and all salaries and promotion arrears paid till date.
(c) An order for the payment of Thirty Million Naira (N30,000,000.00) as general damages.
(d) One Million Naira (N1,000,000.00) cost of this suit.
2. There is a slight difference in the reliefs claimed by the claimant in his complaint dated 1st March 2019 but filed on 11th March 2019 with the reliefs in the statement of claim also dated 1st March 2019. As already shown, relief (a) as per the statement of claim is for a declaration that the suspension is wrong. This relief (a) is not reflected in the reliefs the claimant is claiming as per the complaint. Relief (b) as per the statement of claim is for both reinstatement, on the one hand, and for salaries and promotion, on the other hand. In the complaint, these reliefs are put as reliefs (a) and (b) respectively. Reliefs (c) and (d) in both the complaint and the statement of claim coincide. By Daniel Holdings Ltd v. UBA Plc  LPELR-922(SC), relying on Overseas Construction Ltd v. CreekEnt. Ltd  3 NWLR (Pt. 13) 407:
The law is that a statement ofclaim supersedes a writ of summons. A claim madeon the writ of summons, which is not repeated inthe statement of claim or which is varied in thestatement of claim will be deemed abandoned orvaried.
See also Coutinho Caro & Co. Nig Ltd v. Obioha Investment Ltd  LPELR-21464(CA). I shall accordingly restrict myself to only the reliefs claimed as per the statement of claimant.
3. At the trial, the claimant testified on his own behalf as CW and tendered the following documents:
(1) A copy of the employment letter (Exhibit 1).
(2) A copy of letter of suspension (Exhibit 2).
(3) A copy of letter of the claimant’s counsel for re-instatement (Exhibit 3).
(4) A copy of letter of reminder from the claimant’s counsel to the Ministry of Works (Exhibit 4).
(5) A copy of the claimant’s appeal letter for re-instatement (Exhibit 5).
4. For the 1st defendant, Williams Ememeroru Etenubro, a Chief Executive Officer in the Human Resources Department of the 1st defendant, testified as DW. He tendered the following documents:
(1) Revised Guidelines for Appointment, Promotion and Discipline 2004 (Exhibit D1).
(2) Internal Audit (Four-Man Investigative) Committee Report 2014 (Exhibit D2).
(3) Minutes of meeting of Senior Staff Committee Discipline) 18th May 2014 (Exhibit D3).
(4) Federal Civil Service Commission’s Letter of Approval of Suspension dated 30th May 2017 (Exhibit D4).
(5) Acknowledgement Copy of the Ministry’sLetter of Referral to the Police dated 27th March 2017 (Exhibit D5).
(6) Ministry’s Letter of Response to the Claimant’s Solicitor dated 3rd April 2018 (Exhibit D6).
5. The 2nd defendant only filed their defence, but failed to appear for their defence, wherein the claimant’s counsel applied for it to be foreclosed, which application was granted by the Court. The 2nd defendant, however, cross-examined the claimant when he testified as CW.
6. At the close of trial, the defendants were to file first their respective final written address, but they did not — the 1st defendant would in Court on the day of adoption of written final addresses inform the Court that he simply relies on his evidence and exhibits. Both defendants were accordingly foreclosed from filing any final written address as enjoined by Order 45 Rule 12 of the National Industrial Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2017 (NICN Rules 2017) given that the claimant filed his in accordance with Order 45 Rule 11 of the NICN Rules 2017.
THE CASE BEFORE THE COURT
7. To the claimant, he is a Principal Executive Officer I in the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing having been posted there from Federal Ministry of Education, where he was first employed. That after working for over 20 years, an unsubstantiated allegation was laid on him as to forgery of promotion papers for officers in Benin, which allegation was never investigated or substantiated. That a query was issued to him, which he answered in the negative. Afterward, a suspension letter was issued to him on 19th July2016, which suspension is still subsisting and it is not termination, all contrary to Part V(v) of the Federal Civil Service Guideline, which stipulates that under no condition should an interdiction or suspension be made to last more 3 months in the first instance and the extension of 3 months subject to the approval by the 2nd defendant. That the claimant has not received any money from the 1st defendant on the work that still subsists from July 2016 till date. The claimant went on that he did not appear before any panel to defend himself before the suspension letter was issued to him. That he wrote several letters of appeals but all to no avail. In consequence, that he suffered and is still suffering because of the unending suspension that was issued to him whereby his salary was stopped since July 2016.
8. To the 1st defendant, contrary to impression created by the claimant, where a misconduct committed by a civil servant is criminal in nature, suspension may last beyond 3 months until the Police conclude their investigation in line with Part V, para. 8 of the Revised Guidelines for appointment, promotion and discipline issues by the 2nd defendant in 2004. That the Internal Audit Department of the Ministry discovered that the claimant forged and issued fake promotion and conversion letters to 12 officers of the Ministry in Edo State Field Office, and a four-man investigative committee chaired by the Director, Human Resources investigated the allegations and indicted the claimant and recommend disciplinary action against the claimant. That the case was then referred to the Senior Staff Committee (Discipline) of the Ministry, which committee recommended the suspension of the claimant plus a direction that the case be referred to the Police for further investigation since the allegation of forgery borders on criminality. That this decision was ratified by the 2nd defendant. To the defendant, the suspension of the claimant is in order and is in the interest of the Service considering the criminal nature of the offence allegedly committed by the claimant, which is being investigated by the Police. That the Ministry is not competent to act further until the Police concludes its investigated.
9. The 2nd defendant filed its defence processes but did not defend the case. It did not call any witness to testify. Effectively, the claimant’s case against the 2nd defendant case remains one that is undefended.
THE SUBMISSIONS BEFORE THE COURT
10. Only the claimant filed a written submission before the Court. While the 2nd defendant did not even defend the case, despite filing defence processes, it, however, cross-examined CW. The 1st defendant on his part also did not file any written address but it stood on its oral evidence and exhibits. Of course, it is not the law that a litigant must file a written address. The authorities recognize that though written addresses may be important — Bosma & ors v. Akinole & ors  LPELR-20285(CA) — in providing the Judge a clear mental opinion as to the hard core of a party’s case, there are instances when they are mere formality and so may not diminish or add to the strength or weakness of a party’s case. See Ndu v. The State 7 NWLR (Pt. 164) 550 SC. Niger Const. Ltd. v. Okugbene 2 NSCC 1258 puts it that “When…the facts are straight forward and in the main not in dispute, the trial Judge would be free to dispense with final addresses” and that“Cases are normally not decided on addresses but on credible evidence”.And by Nicholas Elumeziem & ors v. Boniface Amadi  LPELR-22459(CA), where a counsel failed or refused to address the court, it is not the duty of court to impose on such counsel.
11. In making its submissions, the claimant urged the Court to note that the said signature on the alleged forged documents is not the claimant’s given that his name was not on the documents. That the defendants has made a heavy weather of the fact that the claimant forged fake promotion documents and gave same to 12 officers, which cannot be substantiated. That the defendants’ allegation is a mere allegation which the Court should throw into the dustbin. Also that the testimony of DW undercross-examination is that the claimant has been on suspension since 2016 till date without being paid any money. That he also testified that the claimant’s signature and name were not on any of the alleged forged documents. And that all the information he got was not what he witnessed.In other words, DW’s testimony is hearsay; and the law is that, hearsay evidence is not admissible, citingOkediji Abimbola v. Atilola  EPR 104 at 120.
12. The claimant then submitted a sole issue for determination i.e.“whether the claimant has discharged the onus of proof on him to entitle him to the reliefs sought in this suit”. To the claimant, this is a case of wrongful suspension from office of the claimant by the defendants, from the claimant’s office at the Ministry of Works Headquarters, Abuja, where he has not been paid any salary or any money since the suspension in 2016 till date, which is contrary to the provision of Part V para 8 of the Revised Guidelines for Appointments,Promotion and Discipline issued by the Civil Service Commission 2004. That a suspension is supposed to last for only three months in the 1st instance. It can only be extended by the permission obtained from the Civil Service Commission, which permission was not obtained.That the Ministry went on its own frolic to extend the suspension from 2016 till date and it is still subsisting, which is legally wrong. That in UBA Plc v. Mrs Doreen Nkolika Oranuba 2 NWLR (Pt. 1390) 1 at 22, the Court held that it is against fair hearing and the rule of natural justice for an employee to be suspended on half salary when the employee has not been accorded fair hearing. Thatin the instant case, the claimant was not given a fair hearing before the suspension and was NOT even placed on a half salary since 2016 till date. The claimant also referred to “Yusuf v. UBN Ltd 6 NWLR (Pt. 457) 632 Pg. 41-42”, which according to the claimant held thus:
An employee cannot be removed or dismissed for a specific misconduct in the absence of adequate opportunity afforded him to justify or to explain same. Before an employer can dispense with the service of the employee, all he needs to do is to afford the employee an opportunity of being heard before such action, even where the allegation is criminal in nature. There must be fair hearing.
13. The claimant went on that from the foregoing, it is clear and on record, also it is the evidence of DW under cross-examination that the claimant never appeared before any panel to defend himself, which is against natural justice, equity and good conscience. That the right to be heard is such an important, radical and protective right that the courts strain every nerve to protect it and even imply it where a statutory form of protection will be less effective if it did not carry with it the right to be heard, citingOlatunbosun v.NISER Council 3 NWLR (Pt. 80) 39 andOsumah v. EBS 17 NWLR (Pt. 902) 39.
14. The claimant concluded by submitting that he has proved his case on thebest standard required in law; consequently, he is entitled to the reliefssought in this suit. That he also has shown that the evidence of DW is of no moment. Because it was shown that the case of the 1st defendant is marred with obvious and numerous contradictions leading to speculations. Accordingly, that the Court should grant all the reliefs he seeks.
15. Like indicated earlier, the 1st defendant relied on his oral evidence and documents, and the 2nd defendant entered no defence.
16. I have carefully considered the respective processes, evidence and submissions of the parties. The claimant’s case is that he was suspended from work, which suspension is wrong as it went beyond the maximum period allowed under the Guidelines for Appointments, Promotion and Discipline Revised August 2004 and issued by the Federal Civil Service Commission tendered as Exhibit D1 by the 1st defendant. At page 30 of Exhibit D1, paragraph (v) states thus:
Under no condition should interdiction or suspension be made to last more than 3 months in the first instance. Where the need for extension arises, the permission of the Federal Civil Service shall be obtained.
This is the provision that the claimant submitted was flouted by the defendants as to make his suspension from work wrongful; including the fact that he was not accorded fair hearing before he was suspended.
17. A review of the evidence before the Court will assist in resolving the merit of the claimant’s case. In Exhibit 5 dated 23rd March 2017 and tendered by the claimant, the claimant indicated that the genesis of his predicament started in September 2014 when at a meeting of all staff in promotion section it was disclosed that some staff in the Benin Field office forged promotion letters and presented them for variation in order to earn higher salary. This discovery was detected by the Audit section. A four-man committee was set up to look into the matter. In their report, which is Exhibit D2 of November 2014, the committee indicated at paragraph 3.1.13 of pages 7 to 8 that some of the officers with the fake conversion/upgrading and promotion letters mentioned Mr Yakubu Modu Sunday as the person who issued the fake letters to them. It was when the committee confronted Mr Yakubu that he disclosed that the letters were given to him from Headquarters by the claimant, who happened to be a staff of promotion branch. The committee also indicated that Mr Yakubu confirmed that he worked with the claimant in Port Harcourt during the 2012/2013 promotion exercises but without the permission of the Federal Controller or the Head (Human Resource Management).
18. In paragraph 4.0(i) and (ii) of page 10 of Exhibit D2 dealing with Findings, the committee found thus:
(i) Mr. Imogie Solomon of promotion branch in the Headquarters issued the fake letters to the affected staff through Mr. Yakubu Modu Sunday of Edo Field Headquarters.
(ii) Mr. Imogie Solomon had worked with Yakubu Modu Sunday at Port-harcourt during the conduct of the 2012/2013 promotion exercises. Mr. Yakubu was neither assigned by the Federal Controller nor Head (HRM) to attend the two promotion exercises.
And in paragraph 5.0(i) at page 11 of same Exhibit D2, the committee recommended that:
Disciplinary procedures should commence immediately against Mr. Imogie Solomon and his accomplice Mr. Yakubu Modu Sunday.
19. Exhibit D3 is the minutes of the Senior Staff Committee (SSC) of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works & Housing (Works Sector) on Outstanding Disciplinary and Appeal Cases Held on Wednesday 18th May 2016. Under paragraph 3.7 at pages 10 to 11 where the cases of the claimant was addressed it was noted that after Exhibit D2 indicted the claimant as the principal culprit, the claimant was issued a preliminary letter dated 23rd April 2015 so as to ensure fair hearing; and that the claimant denied the offence he was accused of. In Exhibit 5, the claimant acknowledged that a query was issued to him on 23rd April 2015. This query/preliminary letter was, however, not tendered before the Court. The SSC, however, noted that the claimant committed serious misconduct as stated in Rule 030402(a) of the Public Service Rules (PSR) bordering on falsification of record. The SSC then decided that the claimant should be suspended with immediate effect in the interest of the public in line with the Rule 030406 of the PSR and his matter be referred to the Police for further investigation. I must state that Alhaji Ibrahim Muhammed, an Hon. Commissioner of the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC), the 2nd defendant in this suit, represented the FCSC as an observer in the meeting of the SSC of 18th May 2016.
20. Exhibit D5 dated 27th March 2017 is a letter by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (Works) to the Commissioner of Police, FCT Command, wherein cases of forgery and fraud against 27 officers including the claimant were reported for further investigation.
21. Exhibit D4 dated 30th May 2017 is a letter from the FCSC, the 2nd defendant in this suit, to the Honourable Minister, Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (Works Sector) wherein the FSC conveyed the fact that it held a meeting on Wednesday 22nd March 2017 and approved the recommendations of the SSC of the Ministry on outstanding disciplinary cases. In particular, the suspension of the claimant with immediate effect was approved by the 2nd defendant.
22. And so by Exhibit 2 dated 19th July 2016, the claimant was suspended. By paragraph 2 of Exhibit 2, the claimant was suspended thus:
Consequently, you are hereby suspended from the exercise of the power and functions of your office and from enjoying your monthly salary for three (3) months subject to extension effective from the date of issuance of this letter.
It must be noted that the suspension was without pay; and the letter of suspension did not indicate the limit of the period of any possible extension.
23. The claimant’s solicitor had written a letter dated 22/01/2018 to the 1st defendant praying for the restoration of the claimant. This letter is Exhibit 3. In Exhibit D6 dated 23rd April 2018, Mrs Morayo S. Alimi, Director (Human Resource Management), replied to Exhibit 3 on behalf of the Honourable Minister stating that the claimant’s suspension arose out of an investigation by the SSC whose decision was further ratified by the FCSC, the 2nd defendant in this suit. And that the claimant’s solicitor may wish to note that the offence in question being criminal in nature has been reported to the Nigeria Police for further investigation, the finding of the Police in respect of which is being awaited. Accordingly, there is no doubt whatsoever that the claimant’s suspending, aside from being one without pay, was one pending investigation in contrast with one meted out as punishment. I so find. I acknowledge that suspension may be one pending investigation, or it may be one meted out as punishment. See Mr Bisiriyu Adegoke Sheu v. Lagos NURTW (First BRT) Cooperative Society Limited  62 NLLR (Pt. 216) 40 and Mrs Abdulrahaman Yetunde Mariam v. University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital Management Board & anor  35 NLLR (Pt. 103) 40 NIC.
24. The claimant accordingly came to court praying that his suspension be declared wrongful and he be reinstated back to his work and all salaries and promotion arrears paid till date as well as general damages and cost of the suit paid to him. The plank of the claimant’s case is twofold: he was suspended for more than the requisite period allowed; and he was not accorded fair hearing. I shall proceed to consider these grounds of the claimant’s case.
25. In arguing that he was suspended far in excess of the period allowed, the claimant relied on paragraph (v) at page 30 of Exhibit D1. I reproduced the provision earlier. For emphasis, it states:
Under no condition should interdiction or suspension be made to last more than 3 months in the first instance. Where the need for extension arises, the permission of the Federal Civil Service shall be obtained.
Two things must be noted by this provision.
26. First, it is a 2004 provision. This means that coming earlier in time, it cannot supersede the main PSR, which is a 2008 document. Under Rule 030406 of the PSR dealing with suspension, it is provided thus:
Suspension should not be used as a synonym for interdiction. It shall apply where a prima facie case, the nature of which is serious, has been established against an officer and it is considered necessary in the public interest that he he/she should forthwith be prohibited from carrying out his/her duties. Pending investigation into the misconduct, the Federal Civil Service Commission or the Permanent Secretary/Head of Extra-Ministerial Office (if within his/her delegated powers) shall forthwith suspend him/her from the exercise of the powers and functions of his/her office and from the enjoyment of his/her employment.
27. Rule 030406 of the PSR did not stipulate any time limit for suspension; and it is very specific that suspension is without pay. Here lies its distinction with interdiction under which half pay is payable. See Rule 030404 of the PSR dealing with interdiction. So when the claimant agreed that he was not put on any salary, he confused his suspension with interdiction. In Mr Bisiriyu Adegoke Sheu v. Lagos NURTW (First BRT) Cooperative Society Limited, I noted that “the power to suspend and its ambit is a function of law and/or the terms and conditions of the contract of employment”.The English cases of Hanley v. Pease & Partners Ltd  1 KB 698 and Marshall v. Midland Electric  1 All ER 653, however, held that employers cannot suspend without pay where there is no express or contractual right to do so. These English cases have been applied by this Court in a number of cases such as Mr Bisiriyu Adegoke Sheu v. Lagos NURTW (First BRT) Cooperative Society Limitedand Mrs Abdulrahaman Yetunde Mariam v. University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital Management Board & anor. Rule 030406 is very specific that suspension is without pay. There is accordingly nothing wrongful about the claimant being suspended without pay if that is the ground upon which the suspension is being challenged. I so hold.
28. The second thing to note about paragraph (v) at page 30 of Exhibit D1 is that the suspension is to last 3 months, but where the need for extension arises, the permission of the Federal Civil Service shall be obtained. I already indicated that in terms of time limit, Exhibit D1 cannot supersede the 2008 PSR. But even if take Exhibit D1 on its face value, Exhibit D4 is the approval of the FCSC, the 2nd defendant in this suit. Exhibit D4 approved the suspension of the claimant as per item 8 with immediate effect. No time limit for the suspension was imposed. This being so, the permission of the FCSC to extend the period of a suspension that Exhibit D1 talked of can be said to have been met. I so find. Once again, the claimant’s argument that his suspension is wrongful on this score cannot be sustained. I so hold.
29. One additional point on time limits for suspension. In Sylvanus Eze v. University of Jos  LPELR-20072(CA), a similar argument was raised i.e. that suspension could not be beyond three months. Citing Bamigboye v. University of Ilorin &anor 10 NWLR (Pt. 622) at 290 SC, this argument was rejected by the Court of Appeal.
30. The second ground upon which the claimant argued that his suspension is wrongful is that he was not accorded fair hearing before he was suspended. He cited and relied on UBA Plc v. Mrs Doreen Nkolika Oranuba  LPELR-20692(CA);  2 NWLR (Pt. 1390) 1 at 21 – 22, which held that the suspension of the respondent on half pay without first issuing her a query is wrongful and unlawful. In Exhibit 5 tendered by the claimant himself, the claimant acknowledged that he was issued a query on 23rd April 2015. The claimant affirmed this in his testimony under cross-examination when he stated that he was queried before his suspension and he answered it. On this score alone, the authority of UBA Plc v. Mrs Doreen Nkolika Oranuba is distinguishable and so unhelpful to the claimant.
31. Even aside from this, an argument similar to that of the claimant in the instant case raised in Mr Bisiriyu Adegoke Sheu v. Lagos NURTW (First BRT) Cooperative Society Limited  62 NLLR (Pt. 216) 40. And this is what this Court held:
Under cross-examination, DW acknowledged that before the letter of suspension (Exhibit C4) was issued, there was no query issued to the claimant. DW went on to also acknowledge that there was no report of the investigation of the claimant given to him. On this score, the claimant submitted that the consequence of the defendant putting him on indefinite suspension without any investigation or query being issued is that the letter of indefinite suspension is null, void and premature, referring to Anakism v. NBN Ltd  1 NWLR (Pt. 322) 557. In United Bank for Africa Plc v. Mrs. Doreen Nkolika Oranuba  LPELR-20685(CA), it was held as follows –
The problem with the Appellants contention is that the Respondent was suspended on half salary which is punitive in nature. It is certainly against fair hearing and the rule of natural justice to take such a punitive measure against the Respondent without first giving her a hearing through a query. Where the Appellant desired to proceed under Clause 4.2.3 of exhibit D2 to suspend the Respondent in order to make room for proper investigation, such suspension ought to be on full salary in order not to create the impression that the Respondent has already been found guilty without giving her any hearing. In support of his stand, the appellant had referred to the case of Lewis v. Heffrer & Sons  3 All ER 254. But in that case the suspension was with full pay.
It will appear therefore that the learned trial Judge was right in his conclusion that the Appellant by suspending the Respondent on half salary without giving her a hearing, acted in breach of clause 9.0 of Exhibit D1 and the rules of fair hearing and natural justice. The finding is not perverse and the appellant is wrong in his contention that the trial Judge by that finding rewrote the contract of the parties.
The claimant placed much reliance on this case cited as UBA Plc v. Oranuba  2 NWLR (Pt. 1390) 1 at 21 – 22. The thing with this case is that it was based on the conditions of employment of the respondent; and in holding that the suspended respondent ought to be on full salary in order not to create the impression that the respondent has already been found guilty without giving her any hearing, the Court proceeded to make it clear that thereby the appellant acted in breach of clause 9.0 of Exhibit D1. Regarding the instant case, clause 38 is very clear that suspension is without pay. Clause 38 accordingly provides an express and/or contractual right on the employer to suspend without pay, which the claimant cannot now fault or complain about since he agreed to it.
On the argument of the claimant that he was not given fair hearing before he was suspended, relying thereby on UBA Plc v. Oranuba (supra), I indicated earlier that the weight of the authorities is that when it comes to suspension, the question of fair hearing and/or natural justice is immaterial. See Longe v. FBN Plc, Ayewa v. University of Jos, Akinyanju v. University of Ilorin, Shell Pet. Dev. Co. v. Lawson Jack, Adams v. LSDPC and Gukas v. Jos Int. Breweries Ltd (all supra). The argument of the claimant is accordingly unsustainable.
32. The full citation of these latter cases is: Bernard Ojeifo Longe v. First Bank of Nigeria Plc  6 NWLR (Pt. 1189) 1; Ayewa v. University of Jos  6 NWLR (Pt. 659) 142, Akinyanju v. University of Ilorin  7 NWLR (Pt. 923) 87,Shell Pet. Dev. Co. v. Lawson Jack  4 NWLR (Pt. 545) 249, Adams v. LSDPC  5 NWLR (Pt. 656) 291 CA andGukas v. Jos Int. Breweries Ltd  6 NWLR (Pt. 199) 614 CA. In Mr Usanga Eyo Brian v. Polaris Bank Limited unreported Suit No. NICN/LA/412/2014, the judgment of which was delivered on 20th March 2019, this Court in especially paragraph 30, was very specific (after holding in paragraph 29 that “it is within the disciplinary powers of an employer to suspend an employee for purposes of investigating an infraction or as punishment for an infraction”) in holding that:
…The claimant complained of the absence of fair hearing in terms of his suspension, which thus made his suspension bizarre and suspicious. The authorities are, however, pretty clear that when it comes to suspension, the question of fair hearing and/or natural justice is immaterial…
On this score, the claimant’s argument in the instant case that he was not accorded fair hearing before his suspension is not tenable and so is hereby rejected.
33. All of this means that relief (a), which prays for a declaration that the suspension was wrong, cannot be granted as it has not been proved by the claimant. I so hold. And because relief (a) has not been proved, the remaining reliefs, which are hinged on it, cannot be granted. The claimant’s case in its entirety accordingly fails and so is hereby dismissed.
34. Judgment is entered accordingly. I make no order as to cost.
Hon. Justice B. B. Kanyip, PhD