ECOWAS Court fixes 30th October 2019 to decide case filed by sacked ECOWAS Staff

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has fixed the 30th October 2019 to deliver Judgment in an administrative case brought by a former ECOWAS Staff, Mr. Babatunde Adeyemo, against the West African Power Pool (WAPP) over his wrongful dismissal about two years ago by WAPP, a specialized agency of the Community.

The Court had earlier overruled the preliminary objection of the defence counsel, Mr. Raul Houngbedi, that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit, that the plaintiff had not exhausted the internal measures for seeking redress before approaching the court and that the plaintiff had not proved the actions taken against him were inconsistent with the specified procedure.

The plaintiff’s counsel had argued, relying on Article 83 (a), 84 and 85 of the Staff regulation, that the Court had jurisdiction since the Regulation applies to staff of all institutions and agencies of the Community.

WAPP was founded in 1999 as a cooperation of the national electricity companies of West Africa under the auspices of the ECOWAS and working towards the establishment of a reliable power grid for the region and a common market for electricity.

Mr. Adeyemo, a Nigerian/ Community citizen, who was employed on 7th December 2006 as the Director of WAPP’s Centre for Information Coordination, alleged in suit no ECW/CCJ/APP/31/18 filed on 3 August 2018 that his rights were violated through his abusive/wrongful dismissal from the service of WAPP.

Counsels to the plaintiff, Mr.Baba Body Zakari, Alexis Armand Deguenon and Mr. Ayodeji Tokunbo submitted that Mr. Adeyemo, worked assiduously for 11 years without receiving a query, the only query being for disregarding/having disregard for the Committee of Human Resources and Governance of WAPP during its 12th meeting/session held in Cotonou in March, 2017.

They alleged that the plaintiff was summoned before a disciplinary committee but denied the opportunity to defend himself and subsequently dismissed for an unfounded motive which was sustained despite various interventions.

They further averred that while the ECOWAS Staff Regulation provided for termination of appointment/dismissal when a serious offence had been committed by a staff, the alleged offence of the plaintiff did not amount to serious offence which was evident from the delay in the query which he received on the 2nd of May, 2017, two months after the alleged offence and dismissed after three tortuous months.

Among the reliefs sought were a declaration that he was wrongly dismissed; an order for WAPP to pay him damages and interests totaling 2 Million USD for defamation and prejudice suffered following his dismissal; an order for WAPP to pay compensation of three months’ salaries; and an order for WAPP to pay his social contribution for the remaining two years before his normal retirement from service.

The plaintiff also urged the court to fix timelines for the payment of the damages.

Among other things, counsel for the defence had argued that their actions were justified given that the plaintiff’s poor conduct could have adverse effect on the institution and that the procedure did not forestall an extension of suspension while the eventual termination was necessitated by the seriousness of the offence.

They also averred that the plaintiff’s salaries were paid to him until July 2017 as well as his severance package and produced evidence of payment of the entitlements.  In addition, they contended that the plaintiff was given fair hearing as indicated by the correspondences between both parties on the issue of query and his appearance before the disciplinary committee.

Also on the panel were Honorable Justices Gberi-Bé Ouattara and Keikura Bangura.