The National Industrial Court has nullified the sacking of Dr. Martins Thomas as the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Thomas was sacked in April 2015 by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
His sacking was announced in a television broadcast by the ex-President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati.
But in a judgment on Friday by its President, Justice Babatunde Adejumo, the National Industrial Court declared as unlawful Thomas’ sacking through a broadcast.
The court agreed with Thomas’ lawyer, Bode Olanipekun, that the television broadcast sacking was invalid because Thomas was not given the benefit of fair hearing before the decision was taken.
Justice Adejumo held that Thomas’ right of fair hearing enshrined in Section 36(1) of the constitution was violated by the ex-President.
The judge also held that the sacking was not compliant with the provisions of Section 8(2)(c) of the NHIS Act, CAP N42 Laws of the Federation 2004, which fixed the NHIS Executive Secretary’s term of employment as five years.
Thomas had, through Olanipekun, prayed the court to declare his sacking as “irregular, unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and of no legal effect whatsoever.”
He prayed the court to order his immediate reinstatement to office, so that he could complete the remainder of his five-year term out of which he had only spent one year, four months and seven days.
In the alternative, he prayed the court to compel the Federal Government to compute and pay him what he would have earned as salaries, benefits, emoluments and entitlements for the unused part of his five-year term.
He prayed for exemplary damages in the sum of N5bn.
But Justice Adejumo declined Thomas’ prayer for reinstatement and rather ordered the defendants to pay him “all his salaries, benefits, entitlements and emoluments for the unused part of his five years term.”
The judge said Thomas should be paid the sum with 15 per cent interest post-judgment until the final liquidation of the funds.
He also refused to grant Thomas’ prayer for N5bn exemplary damages.
Earlier, the court dismissed the defendant’s preliminary objection, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.