From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The National Industrial Court has summoned the Director General, National Gallery of Art, Mr Ivara Ebetan, to appear before and show cause why he will not be committed to prison for persistent disobedience of its order.
Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi of the Abuja division of the court made the order on Thursday while sitting on
the suit filed by an aggrieved staff of the organization, Mr Eze Justus Obizue, a Deputy Director (Education Service).
In the originating summons marked NIC/ABJ/204/2022, the claimant is among other reliefs seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Director General, Ivara Ebetan from taking further acts of executive recklessness, aggression and prejudices against him.
Listed as defendants are the National Gallery of Art, the Board of Management, National Gallery of Art, Mr Ivara Ebetan, Director-General, National Gallery of Art, Mr Bayo A Kazeem; the Minister of information and Culture and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of information and Culture.
The court had on July 21, 2022, ordered the defendants to be present in court on July 25 to show cause as to why they should not be restrained and for parties to maintain status quo until the hearing of the motion on notice filed by the claimant.
However, counsel to the claimant, Valentine Obiajolu, who stood in for his principal, Anthony Itedjere, drew the attention of the court to the fact that the 3rd defendant, Ivara Ebetan, has taken further steps against the claimant by refusing to pay him his salaries for the month of June, July; August and September 2022 and also removing his desk and personal effects from his office at Abuja.
The lawyer further informed the court in a 16 paragraphs affidavit in support of the motion, that the Director General has directed that backdated letters be issued to his client on the subject of litigation in this suit.
He further drew the attention of the court to a publication by the defendants in Thisday Newspaper dated October 31, 2022, titled ” Public Statement the Complainant of Campaign of Calumny against National Gallery of Art”, wherein his client was defamed.
The said offensive publication accused the claimant of indecent assault, defilement of minor, sexual harassment and malicious damage amongst others.
After listening to the submissions of counsel to the claimant with respect of Form 48, which is the notice of consequences of disobedience to order of court, Justice Oyewumi ordered that the Director General of the National Gallery of Art, Mr.Ivara Ebetan to present himself in court on the next adjourned date fixed for November 29, 2022, to show cause why contempt proceedings will not be made against him.
Meantime, in the originating summons, chronicled alleged acts of executive recklessness, aggression and persecution carried out against him by the defendants.
He is asking the court to set aside or nullify all the findings, recommendations and any further activity carried out by any such Committee set up against him without his knowledge of the existence of such committee and without his invitation or hearing him in line with the provisions and procedure outlined in the Public Service Rules.
An order of the court that the defendants, their proxies, or representatives cannot institute any valid disciplinary action against him on the basis of his personal and confidential file (record) which was last seen with the 4th defendant (Mr Bayo Kazeem) since they have failed to take any action to investigate his complaint.
A declaration that a staff of the organization including the claimant can only be posted by the Director General from one place to another after satisfactory discharge of the duties assigned to him in a particular place of posting and upon payment of appropriate transfer allowance when such an officer or staff is transferred from one place to another.
That the refusal to implement the recommendations of the Disciplinary Committee against the 4th and 5th defendants(Kazeem and Dubem Egbunike), by other defendants is an improper use of their powers under the Public Service rules and an act of abuse of office.
That the purported promotion of the 4th and 5th defendants ahead of the claimant is a gross violent violation of the public service rules and an act of unfair labour practice that has prejudiced the claimant.
Besides the claim of N2 million against the defendants as cost of the suit, the claimant is seeking an order directing the National Gallery of Art to forthwith pay his outstanding salaries and allowances.
The National Gallery of Art is currently embroiled in allegations of massive corrupt practices and financial impropriety, fraudulent employment, among others.
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