Court validates compulsory retirement of Imo Assembly Service Commission Staff from Service


A lawsuit filed by Barr. Ngozi Ndubuisi Osigwe against the Governor of Imo State, the State’s Attorney General, the State’s Civil Service Commission, and 3 other parties was completely dismissed by Hon. Justice Ibrahim Galadima sitting in the Owerri Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court for being without merit.
The court ruled that Barr. Osigwe should have effectively been compulsorily retired as a civil worker in accordance with the Public Service Rules because she reached the age of 60 in 2011.

Justice Galadima held that the statutory age declaration made by Barr. Osigwe’s elder brother attesting that he was born in 1960, and not 1951 as found by the defendants, is not a believable document but a piece of fabricated falsehood that must be jettisoned by any court of law.

From facts contained in the pleadings, the claimant- Barr. Osigwe, maintained that he was born on 22/7/1960, and by 1986, he was employed by the Imo State Civil Service Commission and subsequently transferred to the State’s House of Assembly in 2009 following his request.

He averred that in a letter dated 21/8/2015 which was written by a principal secretary on behalf of the former Governor, he was compulsorily retired before attaining the age of 60 years.

In their defense, the defendants – the Governor of Imo State, the Attorney General, the Civil Service Commission and 3 others, stated that an administrative committee had investigated several petitions and allegations of falsification of age against Osigwe whereupon they rightly concluded that he was not born on 22/6/1960 as falsely declared in the affidavit of age which he submitted to gain his employment, but on 19/6/1951.

The defendants stated that Barr. Osigwe was baptized in a Catholic Parish on 22/7/1951, and so the Imo State Civil Service Commission was not bound to accept a false age declaration against an Establishment Circular letter which provides that any conflict in a person’s age, must be resolved by considering any evidence of such person’s birth certificate, or baptismal certificate issued before attaining the age of 14, First School Leaving Certificate or other authentic school certificates. They had urged the Court to dismiss the case in the interest of the public.

The defendants further argued that Osigwe’s date of birth is an issue that is based on verifiable facts only and not on speculations, and so his compulsory retirement was pursuant to the Public Service Rules. Accordingly, the claimant’s deliberate misinformation to his employers, is a misconduct within the Public Service.

In rebuttal, Barr. Osigwe reiterated that he was born on 22nd July 1960 and that the declaration of age was made by his elder brother. He denied obtaining his First School Leaving Certificate in 1965, and maintained that the Imo State Civil Service Commission acted unlawfully in usurping the powers of the Imo State House of Assembly Service Commission in a matter that concerned his employment.

Osigwe’s counsel submitted desperately, that the defendants accepted his client’s statutory age affidavit when he was first employed and this had been taken as evidence of his real age. His client was baptized in a Pentecostal Church in 2008 and had never belonged to the Catholic Church contrary to the defendants’ argument.

Delivering judgment after painstaking reviewal of the submissions by the parties, Mr. Justice Galadima held that Barr. Osigwe’s reliance on a Statutory Declaration of Age made by his relation who was 2 years old when the claimant was allegedly born in 1960, and which is based on facts the deponent allegedly claimed he was conversant with, is not believable.

The Court further ruled that documentary evidence is the hanger upon which oral testimonies are assessed, and since Osigwe admitted under cross-examination that most children in the 1960s could not begin their primary school education in their early ages, how the claimant had started school so early and obtained his WAEC Certificate by 1975, were never corroborated by any material evidence before the court.

“Consequently, I find the defendants’ account to be more probable of truth in comparison to the claimant’s. I am thus satisfied to accept and grant more probative value to the evidence of the defendants because they outweigh those of the claimant’s respecting his name and date of birth,” the Court ruled.

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