By Taiye Agbaje
The absence of Magistrate Mabel Segun-Bello of Wuse Zone II Magistrates’ Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, stalled the trial of two staff members of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA).
The two workers; Mr Wasiu Sule, the Head of Legal Services and Secretary to OGFZA’s Board and Mr Alenju Ngofa, who is the Human Resource Head of the organisation, are facing allegations bordering on forgery and falsification of documents.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that while the complainant is Mr Olufunmilayo David Omosule, the 1st and 2nd defendants are Sule and Ngofa respectively.
At the resumed hearing, the judge was conspicuously absent in the court and the matter was fixed for Jan. 20, 2022, for hearing by the court registrar.
NAN reports that the court had fixed July 23 for the arraignment of the defendants, following the suspension of the 64-day industrial action embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) but the absence of the trial judge hindered the proceeding.
The court had earlier, on March 16, gave the Commissioner of Police, FCT Command, three weeks to produce the defendants for arraignment.
The court gave the order after the former 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.
The magistrate also gave the police commissioner the go-ahead to investigate the defendants on allegations levelled against them.
The magistrate then fixed April 26 for their arraignment but the JUSUN strike action stalled the sitting, and the matter was then scheduled for July 23.
NAN reports that OGFZA and Omosule had been locked in legal battle over the legality or otherwise of the plaintiff’s suspension, following his petition against some management staff of the agency on alleged corruption.
Omosule had alleged that the defendants wilfully 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.”
He said 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.
Omosule, however, 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.
Omosule had claimed that the originals of his credentials were misplaced in untraceable circumstances as at 2010 when the report to submit originals was made.
The claimant also averred that the CTCs 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 respectively.
The claimant is therefore seeking the court ‘s declaration that he was still a staff of the organisation and entitled to all the rights, privileges and benefits due to him by reason of his employment.
He is praying the court for an order directing the defendant to reinstate him to the position of a director, on grade level 17, a position he claimed his contemporaries were currently.
Omosule is equally seeking for the order of the court to direct the agency to pay all his outstanding salaries, benefits and entitlement since 2011.
In addition, he is asking the court to order the organisation to pay him the sum of N50 million as exemplary and general damages.(NAN) (www.nannews.ng)