The National Industrial Court, Abuja, has ordered the immediate reinstatement of the suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, back to his position.
The former Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had on November 29, 2017 suspended Gwarzo and set up an administrative panel of inquiry to investigate allegation of financial impropriety levelled against him.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Justice Sanusi Kado, yesterday in his judgment, held that the Minister of Finance, named as second defendant in the suit, lacked the power to suspend the claimant. Kado, who dismissed three issues raised by the defence counsel through their preliminary objection, ruled that the suit was not statute barred.
He held that since there was cause of action in the claimant's suit, hence he (claimant) had the right to commence the suit by way of originating summon. Kado further held that the issue in dispute was not about the position of the claimant as the DG of the commission, but that the bone of contention was who had the power to suspend him.
The judge held that the second defendant (Minister of Finance) did not have the power to suspend the claimant since he was not an employee of the commission.He said that the minister, in the absence of the board, only had supervisory power, which does not include disciplinary power to suspend the DG.
Kado held that it was only the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance on the directive of the President, who had the power of suspension.He said: "The minister's role was that of recommendation."Kado in addition said that the administrative panel of inquiry that indicted the claimant was not a court of law neither was it a quasi-judicial body, but just a body set up for a fact-finding duty.
He, therefore, declared that the suspension of the claimant was null, void and of no effect. Kado also declared that the recommendation of the administrative panel of inquiry set up by the second defendant be set aside.The judge, who then ordered the reinstatement of the claimant as the DG of SEC to complete his five-year tenure, also asked that the claimant's salaries, allowances and entitlements accrued be paid to him in full.