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NFIU kicks as court orders reinstatement of directors sacked over ‘gross misconduct’

NFIU kicks as court orders reinstatement of directors sacked over ‘gross misconduct’
March 12
08:59 2022

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has expressed reservations over a court judgment reinstating two directors of the agency who were sacked over alleged gross misconduct.

The National Industrial Court in Abuja, on Thursday, ordered the NFIU to immediately reinstate Mohammed Mustapha and Fehintola Salisu to their positions as associate directors, and pay their salaries, allowances and all entitlements from June 2021 till date.

In June 2021, the NFIU had dismissed the two officials on the grounds of alleged misconduct.

Reports had claimed that the officials were sacked for allegedly initiating investigations against against former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos.

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The officials had afterwards filed a suit against the agency claiming that their dismissal was illegal.

Rakiya Hasstrup, the presiding judge, in her ruling, held that the process that led to the dismissal of the claimants was done in violation of the rule of law, adding that the allegations brought against the NFIU workers were “different” from what was in the queries issued to them.

The court also ruled that the offences do not amount to gross misconduct as stated by the defendant (NFIU), and that since the defendant did not have any condition of service in existence, the provision of the Public Service Rules (PSR) was applicable in the discipline of the claimants.

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“Under the PSR, it is the Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) that can take disciplinary action against them, while the executive director of the agency only had the power to initiate the process. The purported dismissal is arbitrary and unlawful,” the judge said.

Meanwhile, the NFIU has said it will appeal the judgment.

The agency stated its position in a statement issued by Ahmed Dikko, NFIU’s chief media analyst, adding that the directors were involved in a case linked to operating suspicious back accounts.

“Staff who opened and ran bank accounts without approval can never be spared by any responsible organisation, more especially when there is clear evidence of doing so. In essence, they knew what they did; let them say the truth,” Dikko said.

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“You cannot walk up to a bank and block over 360 bank accounts of ordinary Nigerians without a reason or any court order and expect things to augur well, even when the innocent depositors marched to the national assembly to complain of being innocently targeted.

“In the same vein, you cannot allow yourself to be used by anybody to trigger investigations on or against innocent Nigerians simply because they are politicians or legislators or judicial officials or senior public servants. Every innocent citizen deserves protection if you have no definite reason to make them suspects formally and officially.

“The industrial court argued technically without looking at the weight of the offences committed by the officers. We will appeal in order to make sure government officials do not use their offices arbitrarily or against perceived enemies.

“Let it also be clear that no management or operating staff of the NFIU has any formal or informal relationship with the two politicians that are repeatedly mentioned in this case. We do not know them. But every innocent citizen deserves respect and privacy, if there is nothing proven suspicious against them.

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“Both law and justice are about equal treatment and NFIU is an intelligence agency that cannot be used for partisan politics in any way.”

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