IN THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE ABUJA JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDING AT ABUJA
BEFORE HIS LORDSHIP: HON JUSTICE O. O. OYEWUMI
Dated: 26TH NOVEMBER, 2020.
Suit No: NICN/ABJ/317/2018
MARY PHILIP (W/INSPECTOR) - - - - - CLAIMANT
1. THE NIGERIAN POLICE FORCE
2. THE INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF POLICE - DEFENDANTS
3. CP JOHN AMADI
C.A. Oboh with G.O. Kadiri, Augustine Uno Kanu for the Claimant
Blessing Ezeala for the defendants
1. By a General Form of Complaint dated 16th November, 2018 the Claimant claims against the defendants as follows-
i) DECLARATION that the proceedings and Recommendations/verdict of the 1st and 2nd Orderly Room Trial Panels set up by the Defendants against the claimant, comprising of its members and headed by CSP ADEDEJI O. AKEEM and CSP OLUBUNMI OTI respectively are null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
ii) DECLARATION that the non-compliance and breach of regulations 384, 391, 392 and 393 in the schedule to the Nigeria Police Act. And the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) (As Amended) by the defendants in the proceedings leading to claimant’s purported demotion in rank and dismissal from the 1st defendant force has infringed on my (sic) constitutional Right to fair hearing and therefore, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
iii) DECLARATION that the purported demotion in rank of the claimant from Inspector of Police to Police constable in so far as it is based on the deliberations and decisions of the 1st and 2nd Orderly Room Trial against the claimant, comprising of its members and headed by CSP ADEDEJI O. AKEEM and CSP OLUBUNMI OTITOOL respectively is unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
iv) DECLARATION that the purported recommendation for the claimant’s dismissal from service as an Inspector and Officer of the 1st defendant as conveyed to claimant by 3rd defendant vide letter NO DTO: 133700/09/2018 in so far as it based on the deliberations and resolutions of the 1st and 2nd Orderly Room Trial against the claimant, comprising of its members and headed by CSP ADEDEJI O. AKEEM and CSP OLUBUNMI OTI respectively as null, and void and of no effect whatsoever.
v) DECLARATION that the claimant’s tenure as an Officer of the rank of Inspector in the 1st defendant Force is still subsisting.
vi) AN ORDER OF MANDATORY INJUNCTION directing the defendants to reinstate me to my office as Inspector in the service of the 1st defendant force and to pay me all my emoluments, salaries, allowance and benefits from 14th of September, 2018 when the defendants withdraw those entitlements from me.
vii) AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION Restraining the defendants jointly and severally, whether by themselves or by their servants, officers, agents or privies or otherwise howsoever from accepting or acting on the deliberations proceedings, recommendations and verdict of the 1st and 2nd Orderly Room Trial panels set up by the defendants against me, comprising of its members and headed by CSP ADEDEJI O. AKEEM and CSP OLUBUNMI OTITOOL to dismiss me from service as an Inspector of the 1st defendant force.
2. It is the claimant’s case as per her witness statement on Oath that she was enlisted and trained into the Nigeria Police Commands for a period of 15yrs without any query as she performed her duties diligently. That around August 2018, the 3rd defendant was appointed as Provost Marshall and promised to award the staff with slots on a cash and carry basis in any ad-hoc and civilian staff recruitment exercise to be conducted by the defendants, on that note, the claimant approached PA/Private Secretary one Aminu Mohammed and requested for 2 slots with a promise to pay when her salary is paid but the PA/Secretary refused stating that he was under strict instruction to sell only on cash and carry. That afterwards, she approached her colleague who gave her 2 out of the 5 slots she had and she paid into her GTB Bank account. Letters of Appointment were issued to her relatives. She later discovered that more slots were sold to members of staff, on an inquiry she was told that the 3rd defendant is sourcing for money to complete his personal house. That upon the said information she applied for 10 slots amounting to N500,000.00 at N50,000.00 each which she promised N180,000.00 and complete the balance of N320,000.00 when her salary is paid, but the Secretary refused and advised her to see the 3rd defendant, which she did explaining the situation at hand. That the 3rd defendant requested for her personal details which she obliged him adding that she had marital problems. She continued that the 3rd defendant promised to assist her by giving her the 10 slots she requested for but asked her to pay the N150,000.00 she had to his Secretary and also the sum of N30,000.00 for him to facilitate the documentation and issuance of Appointment letters, that on 29/08/2018, she was called by the Secretary informing her that the letters of Appointment were ready but later brought 2 letters signed by the 3rd defendant to her. She stated that the 3rd defendant later asked her out, she refused and the 3rd defendant threatened her that he would revoke the previous Appointments he signed on grounds of forgery. That about a week later, she was summoned by the 3rd defendant to his office in the presence of two other staff collected her phone, reading allegations against her bordering on false Entry, forgery and then ordered her detention at the Garki Police Station for 8 days and subsequently set up an Orderly Room Trial headed by one CSP Adedeji O. Akeem as Delegated Officer but the 3rd defendant kept interrupting the proceedings. He ordered the officer not to call some of her witnesses or record some of her questions. That based on that she was convicted and recommended for demotion to the rank of a constable which she protested and appealed to the Inspector-General of Police but before the expiration of the 7 days as provided by the Police Act, the 2nd defendant Ordered her arrest and detention and further set up a 2nd Orderly Room Trail headed by CSP Olubunmi Otitiola, she informed them that she had been tried already for same offence and was awaiting the outcome of her Appeal but the 2nd Orderly Room Trial panel refused to hear her out, rather it was influenced by the 3rd defendant after which they recommended her dismissal from the 1st defendant on 17/09/2018.
3. On the other hand, the 1st, - 3rd defendants jointly filed their statement of defence on 29/06/2020, they pleaded that the 3rd defendant never requested for any money from the applicant neither did he solicit for any affair with the claimant. That the claimant made a false claim thus averred that on 2/8/2018 one Inspector Mohammed Usman a dispatch clerk at Niger state Police Command discovered that there was a civilian staff Appointment in the Command’s mail box, when he opened the letter, he suspected that the signature on the letter appeared suspicious unlike the Commissioner of Police signature, so he reported the issue to one Insp. Emodi Edogi P.A to the Commissioner of Police Provost Marshall for verification, that it was discovered that the letters which was dispatched by the claimant W/Inspr. Mary Philip was authorized by the Commissioner of Police Provost Marshall. That the claimant immediately admitted the offence in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner of Police Provost Marshal and other Senior Officers in the office and plea for forgiveness, that she also admitted further that one Aminu Muhammed a civilian staff in the admin section assisted her to scan and printed the letter at the sum of N38,500 but the said allegation was denied by Aminu Muhammed. That after the investigation, the claimant was indicted and was recommended for trial bordering on discreditable conduct, corrupt practice, falsehood, Gross Insubordination. That in line with Police practice for a reviewer in an orderly room trail, the revising or reviewing officer ordered for retrial of the claimant based on procedural flaws, that the trail was reassigned to another officer (CSP Olubumi Otitiola), that during trial, the claimant register showed forged and scanned appointment letter which were secretly dispatched by the claimant without the consent of O/C civilian staff one ASP Adejoh Emmanuel. That the new issues raised by the claimant in her petition was tendered and did not establish the fact that she was ignorant of the disciplinary offences she was charged and failed to absolve herself from the offences. That at the end of the Orderly room trial, claimant was found guilty as charged and sentenced accordingly by virtue of Sections 370 and 371 of the Police Act and regulation 1990. That the Presiding Officer recommended her dismissal and it was also recommended that she should be charged to the FCT High Court for the offence of forgery.
4. During the cause of trial, the claimant testified for herself as CW, she adopted her written statement on Oath dated 15th of November, 2019 and equally frontloaded documents which were admitted and marked as exhibits M-M2. The defendants also called a sole witness one Femi Oladele, who testified as DW, he adopted his written statement of 8/07/2020 as his evidence and he also tendered documents admitted and marked as exhibit F-F6. He was cross-examined by the claimant.
5. In compliance with the rules of this Court, the 1st – 3rd defendants jointly filed their final written address on 03/08/2020 wherein counsel on their behalf formulated three (3) issues for the Court’s determination viz-
1. Whether based on the facts and circumstances of this case, the offence for which the claimant was tried by the defendants and subsequently dismissal deserve dismissal under employer/employee relationship.
2. Whether the Rules of Orderly Room Trial as contained in the Police Regulations and Fair Hearing as enshrine in 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) was not complied with by the defendants in the trail of the claimant.
3. Whether the claimant is entitled to any emolument, salary and allowances having been dismissed based on alleged offence of gross misconducts from the service of the 1st defendant
6. It is the submission of learned counsel for the defendants on issue one framed that the claimant engaged in gross misconduct which led to her dismissal. He argued that the claimant’s accusations against the 3rd defendants is vague and her allegation that the 1st Orderly room trial did not follow the proper procedure in conducting the Trial, hence the Orderly Room Trial was reassigned to another Officer (CSP Olubunmi Otitioola) and it was discovered that many fake appointment letters were dispatched to Benue, Kaduna, Lagos and Niger State were scanned and forged by the claimant and such gross misconduct ranging from discreditable conducts, corrupt practices, falsehood, gross insubordination and criminal conduct formed the grounds for her dismissal. Cited in support is the case of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc v. Emmanuel Aderewaju; Olaniyan v. Unilag (1985) 2NWLR (Pt. 9) 599. Learned counsel further submitted that the 1st defendant has the power to terminate her contract of employment base on the offences committed, Mr. Sule Obaje v. NIG Airspace Management Agency.  2 NWLR (Pt. 1365), counsel also submitted that the claimant failed to succeed on the strength of her own case by failing of proof on preponderance of evidence. See Dana Impex Ltd V Adetoro (2006) 3NWLR (pt 966) 78 at 102 – 103; Section 113 (1) of the Evidence Act 2011.
7. Arguing on issues two, learned counsel urged the Court to examine exhibit F-F6 tendered by the defendants and also claimant’s evidence, stating that the defendants duly complied with the 1st defendant Regulations as provided in Sections 384, 391 and 393 of the Police Act and Regulation Cap P19 law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 dealing with Rules of fair hearing noting that by reassigning the Orderly Room Trial to another officer the rules of audi alteram partem was duly followed therefore the claimant cannot claim that the tie for reviewing her appeal was not exhausted when she clearly admitted committing the offence and ought to have been dismissed out rightly but was given a privilege for a defence which she utilized to her maximum, in aid of this argument is the case of Prince John Okechukwu Emeka v. Lady Maryhery Okadigbo  18 NWLR (pt 1331).
8. With regards to issue three, learned counsel contended that the claimant is not entitle to any terminal benefit or compensation as provided in Section 392 (2) (c) of the Police Act (supra) and the case of LT. F. O Odunlami C v. The Nigeria Navy  12 NWLR (pt 1367)pg 20. Counsel noted that the success of all her reliefs will be determined by her first relief stating that if the main claim fails, other claims or relief which are dependent on the success of the main claim fails also. Counsel urged the Court to resolve the three issues raised in favour of the defendants and dismiss the claimant’s suit with substantial cost.
9. In response to the defendants final written address, claimant filed her final written address on 24/08/2020, learned counsel on her behalf distilled four issues for the Court’s determination thus:
1. Whether the administrative tribunal (Orderly Room Trial) that investigated and tried the claimant has the criminal jurisdiction to do so considering the criminal allegations made against the claimant?
2. Whether the claimant’s employment being clothed with statutory flavour was accorded a fair hearing before her dismissal? And whether or not the claimant was entitled to the relief sought?
3. Whether or not the unchallenged evidence of the claimant via cross examination does not amount to admission of the claimant’s claim? And whether or not the Court can attach any weight to secondary document tendered before the Court considering the reasons given as to the whereabouts of the primary document.
4. Whether or not the forensic report tendered in evidence as exhibits by the defendants witness and same not been certified by the emanating authority but by the defendants can be relied upon by this hourable Court.
10. Regarding issue one, learned counsel to the claimant submitted the trite position of the law that where an allegation against an employee borders on crime, no disciplinary action can be taken by any administrative body or tribunal until such a person has been charged and convicted by a competent Court of jurisdiction. See Graba v. University of Maiduguri (1986) 1 NWLR pt 18 550 @ 584, Federal Civil Service v. Laoye (1989) 23 NWLR pt 106, 652 @ 679. Oboh esq submitted that the recommendation by the Orderly Room Trial to dismiss the claimant was contrary to Regulation 369(2) of the Police Act (Supra) as it lacks the capacity to do so being that the claimant as an Inspector in the 1st defendant’s employment, appropriate procedure must be followed which the claimant was not supposed to be tried by that panel but could have been dismissed by the Police Civil Service Commission or the 1st defendant acting through the 2nd defendant cited in support is the case of Institute of Health V Anyip (2011) 55CNY 250 @ 259, counsel further submitted that the Police Act, the Public Service Rules never gave the Orderly Room Panel power to try any criminal allegation as such the decision of the Orderly proceeding against the claimant should be declared null and void.
11. On issue two, leaned counsel submitted that the 1st defendant being a Federal Institution with the 2nd defendant at the statutory leadership of the 1st defendant while the claimant is an employee of the 1st defendant as a Public Servant by virtue of Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). Counsel noted that the 1st defendant is a statutory incorporation established under the Act of the National Assembly and under the leadership of the 2nd defendant and as such lack the powers to hire and fire outside the provision of the governing Act. In support is the case of Idoniboye – Obu V NNPC (2003) 2 NWLR pt. 805 pg 9519. Learned counsel submitted that the claimant’s employment was regulated by the Act therefore she enjoys special status and has a right to fair hearing. He continued that the parties who testified at the Orderly room trail are also staff of the defendants as it is trite that a man cannot be a judge in his own case furthermore, that the witness who testified in favour of the defendants admitted during cross-examination that under the Police Force, hierarchy is maintained stating that he takes and carries out the instructions of his Superior Authority, hence the panel set up by the defendants are supposed to be independent of the defendants and such must comply with the instructions of the defendants. See Ilorin v. Akirogunde (2005) 29 WRN 91 @ 121. Learned counsel submitted that the defendants failed to give claimant fair hearing.
12. Counsel equated justice to pregnancy that cannot be covered for two long and stated further that whatever is written stands for record purposes, also noted that the defendants failed to allow the claimant exhaust her seven (7) right of Appeal before sending a letter to the 2nd defendant titled IGP’s REVIEWINGS dated 17th September 2018. Counsel further submitted that failure to comply with the principle of fair hearing by the defendants before dismissing the claimant vitiate the entire proceedings, and therefore urged the Court to grant the claimant all the relief sought. It was further submitted by learned claimant’s counsel, that where the Court in an employment with statutory flavor is found to be unlawful, the proper order to make is reinstatement. He cited the cases of Abdul Raheem v. Oloruntoba-Oju  WRN 11; Nnoli v. UNMTH  10 SCNJ 71-93.
13. Regarding issue three, learned counsel to the claimant submitted that cross examination has been held to be a weapon to test the credibility of evidence-in chief see Ayorinde V Sogunro (2012) II NWLR (pt. 1312) 460 @ 478. Counsel also submitted that where the evidence of a witness has not been challenged, contradicted or shaken under cross examination and his evidence is not inadmissible in law. See Suberu V State (2020) NWRL 9pt 1176) 494 @ 501, noting that regarding tendering of document, proper foundation ought to have been laid which the defendants failed to do, he cited Sections 88. 89 of Evidence Act 2011; Habib (Nig) bank Ltd v. Koya (1992) 7 NWLR (pt 251) 43 @ 56. Counsel stated that all the documents tendered by the defendants witness cannot and should not be relied upon having failed to lay proper foundation as to the where about of the original copy.
14. On issue four, counsel noted that the defendants through their witness tendered forensic report claiming that it shows the fake and original signature of the 3rd defendant without telling or convincing the Court that the forged signature emanated from claimant and how it was forged stating that for a document to be forged, there must be evidence proving that such document emanated from the accused, which the defendant have failed to do so, he went on to argue that the defendant’s witness under cross examination revealed that he was absent when the forensic investigation was carried out. Counsel therefore submitted that the said document tendered before the Court are in gross violation of the law. He cited the case of Ojo v. Gharoro (2006) All FWLR (pt 316) @ 217; AZU v. State (2007) ALL FWLR (pt 375) 405 @ 555. Counsel further added that the documents were not certified by the emanating authority which makes it a gross violation of the rule of law. See Section 104 of Evidence Act; Adekola v. Allara (2011) All FWLR (pt 572) 1696 @ 1731. Counsel stated that a certificate of public document must always be done by the department or officer in custody of it and not a different department. Positing that a trial Court is expected to admit and act only on evidence which is admissible in law and where the Court admits such inadmissible evidence, it has a duty not to act upon such document so admitted. Counsel urged the Court to consider all issues raised by the claimant and enter judgment in favour of the claimant on all her claims.
15. After an indepth consideration of the processes on record, the testimony of witnesses as well as arguments of counsel in their final written address, I find it obvious that the issue that will lead to the just determination of this case is whether or not the claimant has proven her case to be entitled to her claims.
16. I will consider claimant’s reliefs (i) to (iv) together. A brief insight into the claimant’s case discloses that she was a serving Police Officer and woman Inspector working under the Commissioner of Police, Provost Marshal, she was dismissed from the service of the 1st defendant upon allegation of gross misconduct that boarders on corrupt practices, forgery and false entry based on the proceedings, deliberations and recommendation and verdicts of the 1st and 2nd Orderly Room trial that was conducted by the defendants. The crux of the claimant’s grievance as could be gleaned from her reliefs (i) to (iv) are that the proceedings, composition and recommendations/verdict of the 1st and 2nd Orderly Room Trial panels set up by the defendants against her are devoid of her Constitutional right to fair hearing and disregard of the statutory provisions, i.e. regulations 384, 391, 392 and 393 guiding her employment, should thus be declared null and void and of no effect whatsoever. While the defendants on the other hand averred at paragraph 7 of their statement of Defence that in line with Police practice for a reviewer in an Orderly Room Trial, the revising or reviewing Officer ordered for retrial of the claimant base on the Police Act and procedure.
17. It is not in contention that claimant’s employment is one that enjoys higher status than Ordinary master servant relationship based on the conditions of her service which is governed by the provisions of the Police Act and Regulations cap19, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and the guidelines made there under. See Ojabor v. Hon. Minister of Communication Ors (2018) LPELR – 44257CA. The status of employment with statutory flavour, in its own right, guarantees an employee’s right to fair hearing before dismissal from employment, this is the thrust of employment with statutory flavor as espoused by the Apex Court in Olaniyan v. University of Lagos (1985) 2 NWLR (pt.9) 599; in determining an employment governed by statute, the laid down procedure in the statute must be strictly complied with as any breach would render the dismissal null and void, see Mrs Fakuade v. OAU Teaching Hospital (1993) 5 NWLR (pt 291) p.24. Having said that, now the question is did the defendants follow the procedure required by Regulations 352. 384, 391 and 392 of the Police Act/regulations before an officer of claimant’s status is dismissed. A cursory look at the provisions of the above Regulations which laid down the procedures for the conduct of summary investigation provides thus:
352. Complaint of grievance and wrongs
(1). Any police officer who-
(a) thinks himself wronged by any other police officer, or
(b) thinks that he has just cause to complain of any matter, may make a complaint in writing to his immediate superior police officer.
(2) Any police officer on being asked by a superior police officer if he has any complaint to make, may make a complaint orally to the superior police officer.
(3) A superior police officer to whom an oral or written complaint is made shall cause such complaint to be inquired into and may, if on inquiry he is satisfied of the justice of the complaint so made, take such steps as may be within the scope of his authority to remedy the matter complained of. In any other case he shall forward the complaint and his report thereon to the inspector-General who may give such directions as he deems fit.
(4) Where a superior police officer is of the opinion that the subject-matter of an oral complaint falls outside his scope of authority he shall direct the police officer making the complaint to reduce his complaint into writing and on the receipt of the written complaint the superior police office shall forward the complaint together with his report thereon to the Inspector-General who may give such directions as he deems fit.
18. While Regulation 384 provides that-
1. The delegated Officer shall select the most convenient place for the hearing of the charge but generally the place selected shall be in the Police district or division in which the Police charged is serving.
2. The room or place in which the proceedings are conducted shall be termed the Orderly Room and the proceedings shall be termed Orderly Room proceedings.
3. During the course of Orderly Room proceedings the term “defaulter” shall be applied to the junior officer charged.
4. In any Orderly Room proceedings the defaulter shall be entitled to make his own defence but shall not be entitled to be represented by any person whatsoever.
5. The delegated Officer may request any person to attend the proceedings and give evidence or to produce any document likely to prove material to the investigation.
6. The defaulter may apply to the delegated officer to arrange for the attendance at the proceedings of any person and if the delegated officer is satisfied that the person is likely to give material evidence on behalf of the defaulter, the delegated Officer shall make such arrangement as may be within his power for the attendance of the desired witness.
7. If the defaulter is present, the delegated Officer shall state the substance of the charge to him and shall ask him if he admits the truth of the charge.
19. It can be deduced from the above Regulations that where an Officer commits an offence, a delegated Officer is appointed to conduct an Orderly Room Trial, where the defaulter will be subjected to authority and discipline, to make his defence and give evidence, he shall also be entitled to cross-examine any witness giving evidence in support of the charge and address any question to a witness for his defence and where delegated Officer find that the charge(s) merit a more severe punishment, he shall forward the investigation papers together with his findings to his superior rank Officer for adjudication and award punishment. The IGP may equally direct a review of the trial. The defaulter has 7 days right of appeal.
20. It is trite that where an employment is protected by statute, the process of removal of the Officer must as stated supra be in strict compliance with the extant statute governing the employment and a breach of any of the provisions renders the process of such dismissal null and void and of no effect. Now did the defendants follow the laid down procedure as provided by the Police Act and Regulations. The claimant’s contention is that the proceedings and Recommendations/verdict of the 1st and 2nd Orderly Room Trial should be declared null and void and of no effect because she was not given fair hearing. It is trite that he who asserts must prove the existence of the fact. This is captured in latin as “incums probatioqui dicit, non qui negat” meaning the burden of proving a fact rest on the party who asserts the affirmative of the issue and not upon the party who denies it for a negative is usually incapable of proof. See the cases of Akinbade & Anor v. Babatunde & Ors LPELR-43463 SC; Ayala v. Daniels & Ors  LPELR-47184CA. The Court held that whoever desires any Court to give judgment as to any legal right or liability dependent on the existence of facts which he asserts must prove that those facts exist.
21. It is also trite that when an employee is alleged of gross misconduct as it is in this case, the employer must afford him an opportunity to defend the allegation against him and also would be invited to appear and make any representation or defence. The employee would also as of a right be given opportunity to cross examine his accusers and be allowed to call witnesses to afford him fair hearing see Mgbere v. INEC (2014) NLLR (pt 149) 452-453.
22. Before proceeding with the main issue, I feel compelled to say a thing or more about the argument of learned claimant’s counsel that the claimant ought to have been arraigned before the Court on criminal charges and not before the Orderly room trial. The law as it stands today is that an employer is at liberty to discipline its employee who allegedly commits acts of gross misconduct against his employer which acts also discloses criminal offences under any law; the employer does not have to prosecute or wait for the outcome of the prosecution of the employee for the criminal offence before proceeding to discipline the employee under the contract of service or employment. This was the position of the Apex Court in Imonikhe v. Unity Bank Plc  LPELR-1503(SC), where Rhodes Vivour JSC, held that “By the conditions of service of any organization properly so called an employer ought to be able to discipline erring employees and that was precisely what the respondent did” See also P.C. Mike Eze v Spring Bank Plc,  12 S.C. (PT.1), 173. It is thus apparent from this and other decisions on this subject that the defendants need not first arraign the claimant on the charges before the Orderly room trial.
23. The claimant in prove of her case tendered her letters of promotions and signals evincing her promotion to her current position of Inspector before her dismissal, she also tendered her letters of appeal as well as the law regulating her employment. It is not in doubt that she is a Police Officer a woman inspector. It is equally not in doubt that claimant was tried before two Orderly rooms and was detained in Police cell. The requirement of the regulation in the process leading to dismissal of any Police Officer as revealed in regulation 352 is that a Police Officer who has cause to complain, would have to lodge his complaint in writing to his immediate supervisor and there will be an inquiry by investigating the complaint. According to the claimant she was alleged by her immediate boss, John Amadi CP Provost Marshal the 3rd defendant for forging his signature in producing letters of employment. She was then charged for forgery and corrupt practice and was tried by CSP Adedeji at an Orderly room trial, who recommended that she should be demoted from her rank to Constable. She appealed against that decision and whilst awaiting for its response, she was detained at Garki Police Station and was arraigned on the following day before another Officer, one Olubunmi Otitoola. I have crissed crossed the regulation, particularly regulation 384 which listed the procedure to be followed in summarily trying a Police Officer of claimant’s status, first there is no provision for a second Orderly room trial. I equally wonder why the defendants have to conduct another trial when there was one conducted by a delegated officer. According to DW, it was due to procedural error. Whose fault is that if I may ask? The Officers ought to be well versed with the procedure and their failure to do that should not be visited on the claimant by subjecting her to a second trial. According to the claimant the recommendation of the first trail was that she should be demoted to Constable. To then subject her to a second Orderly room trial where she expressly stated clearly in the attached portions of the report to the request for forensic examination letter, i.e. exhibit F and F1, that she has already been tried before one Adedeji. It is only the scenario painted by regulation 392 when the claimant appeal against an Orderly room trial, that the IGP may order for a re- trail or review of the Orderly room trial. I equally did not see any complaint by any Superior Officer against the claimant before the Orderly room trials were conducted. It is clear as crystal that the defendants failed to follow the procedure required by law before dismissing the claimant. The defendant obviously in their bid to play a hide and seek game before the Court failed or refused to produce the first Orderly room trial Report. Even the Report of the second Orderly room trial conducted by one Olubunmi Otitioola whose recommendation was acted upon for dismissing the claimant was not tendered. What was tendered as exhibit F, is the Forensic report and attached to this document is the purported report which is incomplete, I observed that the pages are not seriatim, for instance what is before the Court are pages 144, 148, 149, 70, 71, 188, 186. Page 188 has no nexus to 184, as well as 186. 187, 184, 181, then 179, 177, 178, 175, etc. I can go on and on. The Court cannot make a head or tail of the said document, thus the document is unreliable and the Court cannot attach any weight to it. This is a clear indication that the defendants did not conduct the Orderly room trials in accordance with the regulations guiding their relationship with the claimant. I equally find that the only authority that could order for a retrial is the Inspector General. What happened in this instant case is that the defendants took it upon themselves to conduct another trial to the disadvantage of the claimant before submitting same to the Inspector General. I also find that the defendants did not allow the claimant to exhaust her right of appeal under regulation 391, which is 7 days of notification of the punishment, before the 2nd defendant reviewed her case and confirmed same. This is in view of DW’s evidence under cross examination where he said that the second Orderly room trial was concluded on the 12th of September 2018 and the IGP reviewed it on the 17th September, 2018, i.e. 5 days after the conduct of the second trial. Infact CP Force Provost Marshal, the 3rd defendant wrote a memorandum to the IGP titled “Review/Comment dated 14th September, 2018, id est, 2 days after the second Orderly Room trial without giving the claimant the opportunity to exhaust her right of appeal. The 3rd defendant’s memo was not accompanied by the report of the Orderly room trials as required by the Police regulation. The claimant’s alleged confessional statement was not also attached to the report. I actually found no evidence on record to substantiate the contention of the 3rd defendant that the claimant admitted to the allegations. Ditto Claimant’s appeal letter written on the 17th of September 2018 was not considered by the defendants before her dismissal by the defendants on the 17th September, 2018. Her 7 days window within which she is required to appeal has not lapsed when the defendants purportedly dismissed her. I find without any hesitation that the procedure adopted by the defendants is fraught with irregularities. It was a hush hush hurriedly conducted procedure intentionally adopted by the defendants to show the claimant the way out of the 1st defendant, this the Court frowns at respecting employment that enjoys statutory flavor as in this present. On this Eko JSC in Comptroller General of Customs & Ors v. Gusau  LPELR-42081(SC). Succinctly puts it thus “The main object and intention of the Constitution, in vesting in the Federal Civil Service Commission the power not only to appoint persons to offices in the Federal Civil Service but also to make rules regarding the manner they retire, or the manner they are compulsorily retired, therefrom are clear. They are to engender in the civil servants security of tenure, which they psychologically need for patriotic and honest discharge of their duties” [Emphasis mine].
24. In addition to this, it is pertinent to state that the procedure enumerated in the Police regulation is not for window dressing but to ensure that the procedure for discipline of any Police Officer is strictly adhered to and is to conform to her Constitutional right to fair hearing requirement of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution as amended. In other words, this Court has to ensure that equal opportunity is given and afforded an employee before a Disciplinary Committee, Administrative Panel, or quasi- judicial /criminal and the likes in accordance with the dictates of Section 36(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Where it is proved that a Party was not accorded or given opportunity to defend himself before a Tribunal, Panel or Ad Hoc Committee, or quasi criminal panel as in this case would be rendered a nullity and will be vacated or set aside forthwith. See Nichols Chukwu Jekwu Ukachukwu v. PDP & Ors  2 SCM 2002 AT 223 F – D. Failure to follow the procedure by the defendants has breached the right of the defaulter to fair hearing. I therefore, find without any shadow of doubt that the defendants breached the provision of regulations 352, 384 and 391 for disciplining the claimant leading to her purported dismissal.
25. It is the law of common place that where a statutory body fails to comply with certain procedural safe guards in an enabling act or regulation, there is a breach of a duty imposed on it and its decision in such circumstances is ultra vires the powers of the defendants to dismiss the claimant. See University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Management Board v. Nnoli supra. Shitta Bey v. Federal Public Service Commission  1 S.C (Reprint) 26; Ibama v. S.P.D.C. (Nig.) Ltd.  17 NWLR (pt. 954) p.364; FMBN & Anor v Owodunni  LPELR 44556 CA; Chief J. L. E. Duke v. Government of Cross River State &ors  8 NWLR (Pt. 1356) 347 @ 366. It is obvious from these cases that the right of an employee under investigation to fair hearing is inviolable and where breached, the action as reasoned supra will be deemed to be null and void and of no effect whatsoever. It is consequent upon the complete neglect/disregard of the Police Act and its regulation that I find that the claimant was unlawfully dismissed from the 1st defendant. Accordingly, the letter dismissing the claimant dated 17th of September, 2018 is hereby set aside. I so hold.
26. It is the claimant’s reliefs (v) and (vi) that her tenure in office as an officer of the rank of Inspector in the 1st defendant Force is still subsisting and should then be reinstated. I have held hereinbefore at paragraph 25, that the claimant was unlawfully dismissed by the defendants and her dismissal letter accordingly set aside. It then goes without saying that the claimant is still in the services of the 1st defendant as a woman Inspector. The law is notorious that where the Court finds a statutory employment to be unlawfully determined, the consequential order to make in the circumstance is reinstatement. The position of the law is aptly captured by Akintan JSC in CBN v. Igwillo  ALL FWLR (Pt. 379) 1385 at 1401, Paras. E – F; thus- “Where an employee's service is protected by statute and his employment is wrongfully terminated, he would be entitled to reinstatement in his office and in addition, damages representing his salaries during the period of his purported dismissal." It is in line with this trite position of the law that I make an order for the reinstatement of the claimant to her position as a woman Inspector in the 1st defendant by the defendants forthwith. I equally order that the defendants pay the claimant her salaries and allowances from the 17th of September, 2018 till the date of her reinstatement. I thus find and hold.
27. Finally, the claimant by her relief (vii) is seeking for an injunction restraining the defendants from acting on or accepting the proceedings, recommendations of the two Orderly room trials. I have held supra in this judgment that the procedure adopted by the defendants in the conduct of the procedure leading to claimant’s dismissal is in breach of her Constitutional right as well as fraught with irregularities. It then means that the orderly room trials were not in compliance with the Police regulations and was thus declared null void and of no effect. The import of this is that relief (vii) is overtaken by the decision in this case supra.
28. It is deducible from all reasoning hereinbefore, that the claimant’s claims succeed in its entirety. It is in that regard that I make these declarations and Order.
1. That the procedure adopted by the defendants in dismissing the claimant is in breach of the Police regulations.
2. That the Constitutional right of the claimant to fair hearing was breached.
3. That the letter or signal dismissing the claimant dated 17th September, 2018 is hereby set aside.
4. That the 1st defendant is to reinstate the claimant to her position as woman Inspector forthwith.
5. That the 1st defendant is to pay the claimant all her salaries and allowances from the 17th September, 2018 till the date of reinstatement.
6. No order as to costs.
Judgment is accordingly entered.
Hon. Justice Oyewumi Oyebiola O.