The Presiding Judge, Owerri judicial division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Galadima has ordered Imo State Government to pay former FADAMA III Imo State Coordinator, Mr. Vitus Enwerem the sum of Four Million, Two Hundred and Twenty-Nine Thousand Naira accrued arrears of salaries from January 2014 to May 2017 within 30 days.
The Court held that Mr. Vitus appointment as State Coordinator of the Fadama III project was neither subjected to the civil service rules of the State; nor was it an employment that was specifically stated to be permanent and pensionable, declined other reliefs for lacking merit.
From facts, the claimant’s- Mr. Vitus Enwerem had submitted that he was appointed in 2009, as a Fadama III Project Coordinator, and held the office for 7 years until 24/5/2017 when the Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture on the instructions of the state government wrote a letter directing his redeployment to the Ministry of Agriculture pending the investigation on alleged allegations made against him.
However, from when he filed the suit, he alleged that the defendants did not redeploy him to the said Ministry or prove the allegations of misdeeds against him and his salaries since January 2014 to May 2017 remained unpaid.
In defence, the defendants denied the claims and stated that the claimant’s employment as Fadama III Project coordinator ended at the end of the contract and that since his employment was contractual, he was not entitled to any arrears of salaries that the project commenced in 2009 and same was to have expired by 2014.
Further that Victor’s contract of employment prior to its termination, was guided by the Project Implementation Manual (PIM) and not the Civil Service Rules urged the court to dismiss the claims as baseless.
The Claimant’s learned counsel B. N. NWOKE Esq maintained that Victor was a public officer of the Imo State Agricultural Dev. Project, and canvassed that Fadama III is a sub-programme of the project, argued that there was no evidence to suggest that the claimant’s appointment was terminated by the defendants prior the initiation of the suit and for that reason, the claimant remains a public officer of the State of Imo.
Delivering the Judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Galadima held that claimant was a political appointee whose appointment was naturally subject to the whims and caprices of the State Executive within the confines of his contract of service he was to provide during the life span of the project.
“Therefore, unless he was already a civil servant or a public officer already appointed in a different capacity before he was appointed an SPC of the Fadama III project, he is not entitled to deployment into any position in any Ministry or agency of the government.
“Therefore, it is this court’s logical finding that the defendants intended to terminate this claimant’s appointment as the State’s Coordinator of the Fadama III Project with effect from the 25/5/2017.