Two sacked directors of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) on Tuesday dragged the agency before the National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja, praying the court to set aside their dismissal from public service.
Mr Muhammed Abdulrahman an Associate Director in charge of Intelligence and Investigation and Ms Fehintola Salisu, Associate Director Compliance and Analysis, were sacked for alleged insubordination.
In the suit marked NICN/ABJ/253/2021, the plaintiffs prayed the court to set aside their dismissal from public service on the grounds that it was done in contravention of the law.
In an affidavit in support of the motion, the plaintiffs claimed that their ordeal began in 2020 when they wrote memos to local and foreign authorities after initiating a probe against the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
“As the most senior person in the organisation, in the absence of the Director of NFIU, Mr Modibbo Hamman-Tukur, Salisu initiated action to respond to the request for information as expected by the partner organisation in Malta.
“Abdulrahman also wrote to investigative authorities in Nigeria requesting for details about the subject.”
They, however, alleged that in separate queries served on them, they were accused of bypassing the appropriate authority before initiating the probe.
They were suspended indefinitely after they were queried in Aug. 2020.
They also said six months after their suspension, they were invited to appear before the Appointments, Promotions and Disciplinary Committee in February following which they were dismissed from service.
They contended that in its report, the committee indicted them of negligence, dereliction of duty and gross misconduct which they were never confronted with when they were issued queries or appeared before the committee.
“The grounds or allegations which the committee found us liable and recommended our dismissal, under Public Service Rules, 2008, can only give rise to a retirement or termination and not dismissal.”
In the suit filed by their counsel, Mr P.T. Akan, the plaintiffs are praying for an order setting aside the findings and recommendations of the committee on appointments, promotions and discipline constituted by the director, upon which the defendants in the suit relied upon to dismiss them.
They also prayed the court to determine the following: “Whether in the light of Rules 030102 of Chapter 3 of the Federal Government Public Service Rules, 2008, the defendants were vested with the power to dismiss the claimants from its services without such power expressly delegated to them by the Federal Civil Service Commission.
“Whether within the meaning and definition of Section 1 of Chapter 16, Rules 160101 and 060102 of the Federal Government Public Service Rules, 2008, NFIU does not qualify as parastatal.
” And if it is, whether the defendants are not bound to comply strictly with the provisions of the Public Service Rules, 2008 before dismissing the claimants from its service.”
They also prayed the court to make a declaration that their purported dismissal from the Service of the NFIU by the defendants was arbitrary and unlawful and consequently null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
They are further seeking an order directing the defendants to issue a letter recalling and re-instating them into the service of NFIU and restoring all the privileges, entitlements and positions held by the claimants before their purported dismissal by the defendants.
“An order directing the defendants to pay to the claimants’ salaries, allowances and all their entitlements from the period of their purported dismissal to the period of re-instatement.”
The matter has been slated for hearing on Wednesday.