Court orders ECOWAS Bank to pay 75,000 USD for the violation of the rights of its former employee

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has ordered the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) to pay 75,000 USD (Seventy-Five Thousand US Dollars) as damages to its former employee, Prof. Joseph Adelegan, for the unfair termination of his employment.

The Court also awarded another N2,000,000 (Two Million Nigerian Naira) as cost to the plaintiff but dismissed other claims sought by him.

It also ordered the plaintiff to return all properties of the bank in his possession or issued to him while in the defendant’s employment

In the judgment delivered on Monday, 3rd January 2020 by Honorable Justice Keikura Bangura, the Court held that it had competence to adjudicate on the matter and declared it admissible citing Articles 9 (4) and 9 (1) (f) respectively which empowers it to hear matters of alleged human rights violations that occur in the sub-region, as well as disputes relating to the Community and its officials.

In the application with suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/40/17 filed before the Court by his counsel, Mr. Femi Adedeji, on the 22nd of November 2017, the plaintiff claimed that EBID, an institution of ECOWAS established by the provisions of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty as amended, arbitrarily terminated his appointment and denied him the right to fair hearing.

The plaintiff who was Head of Environment and Sustainable Unit of EBID claimed that he applied for the vacant position of Director of Public Sector Operations of EBID, but that his initial appointment was terminated in May 2017 when he protested the anomalies/irregularities that characterized the exercise to fill the position on the grounds that they were contrary to provisions of the Staff Rules and Regulations.

He had asked the Court to declare the termination of his appointment as arbitrary and that the process breached his right to fair hearing. He also sought orders to be reinstated and for the defendant to pay his salary arrears from May 2017, his entitlements and other benefits among other reliefs.

The defendant (EBID) however debunked the plaintiff’s claims. Counsel to the defendant averred that the plaintiff was a probationary employee who was the subject of a disciplinary committee for gross misconduct that led to the termination of his employment. The counsel further argued that the termination followed due process and consequently the plaintiff was not entitled to the reliefs sought. 

Also on the panel were Justices Gberi-Be Ouattara and Januaria Costa.