by Abayomi Adeshida, Abuja
A new date will be fixed for the arraignment of two senior staff of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) for alleged forgery and falsification of documents due to the absence of Magistrate Mabel Segun-Bello of Wuse Magistrates’ Court, Abuja on Friday.
The two staff members who were due to appear before the Judge were the Head of Legal Services and Secretary to OGFZA’s Board, Mr Wasiu Sule and Mr Alenju Ngofa, who is the Human Resource Head of the organisation.
Soon after the suspension of the 64-day industrial action embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), the court had fixed Friday, July 23 for the arraignment; despite the fact that the matter was number seven on the cause list, the court could not sit due to the judge’s absence and a new date was yet to be fixed as at the time of filing the story.
At about 10: 25 am, a court Clerk apologised to Counsels who were patiently waiting for the court to sit over all the cases listed for the day and announced that the Judge would commence sitting by midday, “due to some unforeseen circumstances,” he announced.
But as the Judge could not sit again by mid-day when the Lawyers expected the court to sit, Lawyers approached the Office of the staff of the court to confirm their new dates. As at press time, counsel to the Complainant, Mr Olufunmilayo David Omosule had not been given a new date for the arraignment of both defendants.
On April 26, the arraignment of the 1st and 2nd defendants who are Sule and Ngofa respectively.
was stalled due to the strike action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN.
Following the suspension of the Industrial action by Judiciary workers, on March 16, the commissioner of police, FCT Command was given three weeks to produce the defendants in court after counsel to the nominal complainant, Nkereuwem Akpan, informed the court that the accused persons had evaded service of court processes on them despite several attempts.
Similarly, the magistrate also gave the police commissioner the go-ahead to investigate the defendants on allegations levelled against them.
The plaintiff had engaged the OGFZA in a legal tussle to determine the legality or otherwise of his suspension from office as the Abuja Manager of the Agency, not too long after he petitioned some management staff of the agency alleging some massive fraud and corrupt practices.
In his prayers before the court, the plaintiff had alleged that the defendants willfully and maliciously distorted his records “to appear as though he does not possess any requisite qualification to be employed at OGFZA or any qualification at all to be considered for promotion.”
Omosule held that their action was tantamount to forgery and falsification of documents contrary to Section 363 and 364 of the Penal Code, which is detrimental and injurious to his person.
The agency had via a letter dated April 18, 2011, suspended Omosule as the manager of its Abuja office, on the grounds that he refused to comply with its letter dated Dec. 3, 2010, which had directed him to present the originals of his credentials for verification.
However, he refuted the claim of the Authority, stating that he made available to the organisation, Certified True Copies (CTCs) of his educational certificates /credentials, including GCE ‘O Level certificates and degree certificates as instructed.
He had also claimed that the originals of his credentials were misplaced in untraceable circumstances as at 2010 when the report to submit originals was made.
Omosule also averred that the Certified True Copies of his certificates submitted to the agency were certified by the issuing institutions, which included West African Examination Council and the University of Ado-Ekiti, then Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State respectively.
Therefore, Omosule is praying the court to declare that he was still a staff of OGFZA and entitled to all the rights, privileges and benefits due to him by reason of his employment.
Plaintiff is also praying the court for an order directing the OGFZA to reinstate him to the position of a director, on grade level 17, a position he claimed his contemporaries were occupying currently in the public service.
In the same vein, he is seeking the order of the court to direct the agency to pay all his outstanding salaries, benefits
and entitlement since 2011; as well as asking the court to order the organisation to pay him the sum of N50 million as exemplary and general damages.