The Presiding Judge, Owerri Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Galadima has nullified the purported removal of Prof. Obioma Iheduru, Barr. Kingsley Nzemechi and 4 others from Imo State Universal Basic Education Board, declared that their membership of the Board still subsists.
The Court ordered Imo State Government, its Attorney and Imo State Universal Basic Education Board to pay or continue to pay Prof. Iheduru and 5 others their salaries and/or allowances; emoluments, and/or entitlements attached to their membership of the Imo State Universal Basic Education Board until the expiration of their tenure in December 2023.
Justice Galadima held that Imo State Governor cannot remove them from office without complying with the State Universal Basic Education Law and other extant laws.
From facts, the claimants- Prof. Obioma Iheduru and 5 others had submitted that they were sworn-in as members of the Imo State Universal Basic Education Board for a tenure of 4 years that their purported removal from office was done without due process and not in tune with the law.
In defense, the defendant- deposed that Prof. Iheduru and 5 others were removed by the governor for their inability to carry out the functions of their respective offices upon their assumption of office, objected that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit on the ground that the action was commenced by a wrong process, urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.
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In opposition, claimant counsel, L.A. NJEMANZE Esq. submitted that there was no time his clients were issued with any query for failing to discharge their duties that they were purportedly removed from office by virtue of the letter of the governor through the Secretary to the State Government which purportedly dissolved the education board, urged the court to grant all the reliefs sought in the interest of justice.
Delivering judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Galadima dismissed the objection canvassed by the governor and 5 others for being unmeritorious and held that the Imo State governor cannot put the education board into extinction, as any such attempt to dissolve the board is ultra vires, null and void, and until otherwise provided in a law validly in force in the State.
Justice Galadima further held that Prof. Iheduru and 5 others were legitimately appointed by the State Government in 2019 and subsequently sworn-in based on uncontroverted evidence before the court that the defense relied upon by the government is utterly weak and incapable of outweighing the applicants’ evidence.