From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The National Industrial Court has been told how the Budget Office, a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Finance Budget and National Planning has unlawfully withheld the salaries and entitlements of her staff, Mrs Bilikisu Okenne Sanusi, for daring to expose corrupt practices in the establishment.
In a suit marked NIC/ABJ/96/2022, the claimant, Mrs Sanusi, alleged that in the course of her service in the organization, she discovered monumental corrupt practices perpetrated by some staff of the Federal Ministry of Finance Budget and National Planning, in the office of the Budget Office.
The claimant who is demanding the sum of N50 million as damages further revealed that the corrupt acts bordered on the manipulation of budget proposals by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Meanwhile, Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi has upon agreement of counsel to parties to the suit adjourned to December 7 and 8, 2022, for a definite hearing of the case.
Also listed as Defendants in the suit are the Head of Service of the Federation (1st); Director-General Budget office of the Federation (2nd); Federal Ministry of Finance Budget and National planning (3rd); AGF(4th) and Accountant General of the Federation (5th).
In her statements of fact before the court, she claimed alleged she reported some of the corrupt acts to the 2nd Defendant (Director-General Budget Office), being her immediate boss but upon discovering that the 2nd Defendant was complicit in the alleged acts and the following aggression by him against her person, she reported same to the 1st and 3rd Defendant who also decided to trail the same path with the 2nd Defendant, leading to her name been expunged from payments vouchers and other efforts to frustrate her.
She further alleged that the 2nd Defendant also without any justification caused her Secret and Open Files domiciled with the Budget Office of the Federation Registry to be removed and kept in an unknown place to frustrate her from proceeding on her retirement.
The claimant has also alleged that the 2nd Defendant in a bid to frustrate her also instructed his allies in the Finance department to withhold and deny her due financial and maternal benefits and rights incidental to her employment and office in the Budget Office of the Federation.
She prayed the court to declare that the termination of her salaries and entitlements prior to and from the 26th November 26, 2021, till date by the 1st, 2nd 3rd and 5th Defendant is an illegal, unlawful and gross abuse of governmental powers as such null and void and of no effect.
“That withholding of the Claimant’s Secret and Open Files and infringe benefits, bonuses and Christmas, Easter and Sallah gifts and all other benefits howsoever called incidental to her position as a staff of the Budget Office of the Federation by the 2nd Defendant 1st illegal, unlawful and gross abuse of governmental powers as such null and void and of no effect.
“That the 1st Defendant lacks the power to impose punishment or suspension of salary on the Claimant safe as stipulated by the Public Service Rule which Rule must be adhered to as expressly stipulated as doing otherwise amounts to a nullity.
Her counsel, Uzoma Nnona, also sought an order of the court “compelling the Defendants to pay the Claimant all her salaries, entitlements, fringe benefits, bonuses and all benefits however called incidental to her position as a staff of the Budget Office of the Federation withheld by the Defendants illegally and unlawfully, amounting to N2,214,250.
“In addition, the claimant is seeking an order of the court compelling the 2nd Defendant to forthwith release the Claimant’s Secret and Open File to enable her to proceed with the processing of her retirement
“The sum of N50 Million (Fifty Million Naira) only as exemplary damages in favour of the Claimant against the Defendants the later having acted in bad faith “
At Monday’s proceedings, MD Agada announced his appearance for the 2nd and 3rd Defendants, while Aliyu Abdulkadir appeared for the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
Justice Oyewumi of the Abuja division of the court has equally directed that all processes relating to the case must be filed and served before the adjourned date.