Court dismisses suit against Niger Delta Basin Authority

The Presiding Judge, Portharcourt Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, Justice F. I. Kola-Olalere has dismissed the suit filed by Mr. Friday Maekae against Niger Delta Basin and Rural Development Authority for being wrongly initiated and lacking in merit.

Justice Kola-Olalere held that Mr. Friday’s did not comply with the Court Rules in filing the action that he ought to have filed the action on the termination of his employment by Complaint instead of filing same by Motion on Notice under Fundamental Right (Enforcement Procedure) Rules which the Court has no jurisdiction to enforce. 

From facts, the applicant- Friday Maekae who was in an employment relationship with the Niger Delta Basin and Rural Development Authority had filed a Motion on Notice sought for the enforcement of his fundamental rights, alleged that his employer unlawfully terminated his employment on September 8, 1997, without a fair hearing which he contends to be degrading, inhuman, and unconstitutional. 

In the Alternative, he sought reinstatement to his duty post and monetary claim for N100, 000,000.00 only as exemplary damages for his alleged unlawful, unconstitutional disclaimer and infringement of his Fundamental Rights amongst others.

In defence, T.I. Graham Esq contended that the Friday’ has brought no material to show that the agency has infringed on his fundamental rights that he was disciplined for gross misconduct.

Counsel submitted further that it is not within the realm of Fundamental Rights Enforcement proceedings to ask for applicant’s entitlement, unpaid salaries, and allowances and then base the claim on breach of Fundamental Right to fair hearing that the entire processes filed by the applicant are an abuse of Court processes by filing the case after 21 years of the accrual of the cause of action, urged the court to decline jurisdiction.

In reply, Friday’s counsel P.A. Kagbara Esq. submitted that an application for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights under the present regime cannot become statute-barred urged the court to assume jurisdiction that the Court has all the powers of a High Court to exercise any jurisdiction conferred upon it by the Constitution of the FRN that the instant case is properly constituted before the court.

Delivering the judgment after careful evaluation of the submissions of both parties, the presiding judge, Justice Kola-Olalere held that an action for wrongful termination or dismissal of employment cannot be brought under Fundamental Rights Rules Procedure and further that the applicant has failed to establish to the satisfaction of the Court that any of his fundamental rights in Chapter IV of the Constitution of the FRN, 1999 (As Amended) was breached by the agency in terminating his employment.

“I further hold that this Court cannot assume jurisdiction on the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009 by virtue of the provision of section 254C(1)(d) of the Constitution of the FRN, 1999 (As Amended). This is because the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules do not expressly list this Court amongst those the drafters recognize to apply them. 

“On the whole on this issue, I hold that the NICN is not saddled with power to enforce, observe and apply the provisions of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009.”

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