Justice Mustapha Tijjanni of the Lagos Judicial division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria has nullified the purported statutory retirement of Mr. Murziq Abodunrin by the Lagos State Judicial Service Commission.
The court held that the purported retirement was done in contravention of the Magistrates’ Court Law of Lagos State, ordered that Abodunrin be immediately reinstated to his post as Chief Magistrate Grade II without loss of any income and promotion, with the sum of N500, 000.00 costs of the action.
From facts, the claimant’s Murziq Abodunrin submitted that he was employed by the Lagos State Government as a clerical officer in 1982 and on 19 February 2004 his employment was converted to a Magistrate Grade II and rose through the cadre and was promoted to Chief Magistrate Grade II on 1st January 2016.
He submitted further that in 2017, he was directed to proceed on statutory retirement with immediate effect in accordance with Lagos State Government Public Service Rules on the ground that he had spent 35 years in service. In his reply to the letter of statutory retirement dated 30 November 2017, the claimant who was 52 years old then, contended that the Lagos State Government Public Service Rules does not apply to all public servants, that the Rules itself provided exceptions.
In defence, the defendant counsel Olusina Sufola SAN with O.A Akinsanya Esq. submitted that it’s the State Public Service Rules that regulate the Claimant’s retirement not magistrate law. The counsel opined that state Public Service Rules is higher in the hierarchy of laws to the Magistrates’ Court Law and as such, a general provision in the Public Service Rules overrides and prevails over and renders a specific provision on the same subject matter in the Magistrates’ Court Law void to the extent of its inconsistency with the general provision in the Public Service Rules.
In opposition, the learned counsel to the claimant’s Afolabi Dawodu Esq. argued that the provisions of the Lagos State Public Service Rules on retirement do not apply to magistrates, that it’s the requirements in Magistrates’ Court Law that apply urged the court to so hold.
After careful evaluation of the submissions of both parties, Delivering the Judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Mustapha Tijjanni held that the Lagos State Public Service Rules is a subsidiary legislation made pursuant to the enabling power given by the constitution, and, that does not make it superior to the Law validly made by the State Legislature which derives its authority to do so under the same constitution.
“The Lagos State Judicial Service Commission is therefore wrong in relying on the Public Service Rules in the discharge of its functions. The Commission, being independent and distinct from the Civil Service Commission, must have its rules for the discharge of its duties.
“The fact that Public Service in a State has been defined under Section 318 of the 1999 Constitution to include members of staff of the High Court, the Sharia Court of Appeal, the Customary Court of Appeal does not make the Public Service Rule applicable to the Claimant’s case.”