Nigerian employee petitions ECOWAS Court President over unlawful dismissal



By Kehinde Akinpelu, Ilorin

A Nigerian, Mr. Stephen Temitope Obasaju, has petitioned the President of Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, Nigeria, Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante, over his unlawful dismissal from the court.

Obasaju, who was employed by the court on August 27, 2018 as the Executive Assistant, was sacked on July 15, 2019 following a request by a Nigerian Judge at the court, Justice Dupe Atoki.

In a letter of termination of appointment dated July 15, 2019 and signed by the president of the court, Hon. Justice Asante, the court said his dismissal was upon a request by Justice Atoki, who he was an executive assistant to, over reasons relating to irreconcilable differences.

But in a letter dated July 17, 2019 and addressed to the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Obasaju, described his dismissal as unlawful because it did not follow the ECOWAS staff regulations on staff disciplinary procedures.

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He, however, pleaded with the president of the court to give a directive that the laid down disciplinary procedure be followed in his matter in the interest of justice.

The letter read: “I respectfully bring to your attention the flawed procedure contrary to the ECOWAS Staff Regulations which led to the unlawful termination of my contract of employment yesterday as an Executive Assistant to the Nigerian Judge at the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Abuja, Nigeria.

“My supervisor at the Court, Justice Dupe Atoki initiated my termination of appointment on the 3rd of July 2019 after spending over nine months in the employment of the court without any violation of the staff rules and I was rushed through a procedure that did not follow the disciplinary rules laid down in the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

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“It is sad that a court of record that advocates protection of human rights in the West African sub-region can flagrantly violate my right to fair hearing and right to gainful employment and also fail to follow Staff Regulations which they are expected to protect by terminating my appointment without following due process.

“My Purpose of bringing this matter to your attention is to seek your intervention by looking into the matter and give directive for the laid disciplinary procedure to be followed in the interest of justice.

*However, efforts to speak with Justice Atoki was not successful as her phone was not reachable at the time of filling this report.

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*But Justice Atoki in a memo dated June 27, 2019, and addressed to the president of the court, said: “I have therefore come to the inevitable conclusion that Mr Stephen cannot provide the required level of support for the discharge of my judicial functions. By this memo, I am conveying my decision to terminate his appointment and for the required notice of termination of appointment to be issued to him forthwith”.

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