Senate orders NDPHC to reinstate dismissed manager

By Oke Peter

The Senate, on Thursday, urged the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) to reinstate Mrs Maryam Mohammed and pay her entitlements since June 2016, when she was ‘wrongfully’ sacked.

The resolution came after adoption of recommendations of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition.

The matter was referred to the committee after Baba Garbai (Borno-APC) drew the attention of the Senate to a petition from Mrs Mohammad against the NDPHC for wrongful termination of her appointment.

Presenting a report on Thursday, chairman of the committee, Sam Anyanwu, noted that the complainant was wrongfully dismissed according to the committee’s findings.

The petitioner had told the committee that she started her career in the then National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) in 1992 as an Officer II Audit and rose through the ranks to the position of Assistant General Manager (Audit) in 2010 while in the service of the erstwhile Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

She was offered exclusive secondment from the PHCN to NDPHC in 2011 and thus, transferred her service to the NDPHC and was promoted to the rank of General Manager (Audit and Compliance) same year.

She said throughout the 24 years in service, she had never been found wanting in the discharge of her duties or involved in any form of misconduct.

She said she was shocked to receive a letter dated June 10, 2016 with Ref. No. SGF.55/S.4/52 signed by Babachir Lawal, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and purportedly approved by President Muhammadu Buhari notifying her of her disengagement from service with effect from June 10, 2016.

She said the letter also directed her to hand over to the most senior officer in her department even though her position as a General Manager (Audit and Compliance) was not appointive but a position she earned by growing through the ranks and sheer hard work as a staffer of the company.

Before her wrongful disengagement, according to the petition, Mr Lawal on June 10, 2016 announced the dissolution of the Executive Management of NDPHC with immediate effect but there were General Managers of same status with her that were allowed to remain in their positions because they were staff of the company and not members of the dissolved Executive Management.

To fight for her right, Mrs Mohammed petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari who directed the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to investigate the matter. After the investigation, Mr President directed that she be reinstated. The directive was conveyed by the Attorney-General and the Chief of Staff (COS) to the president vide a letter dated October 25, 2016; but the directive was not complied with, the committee stated.

As a result of this, she approached the Senate in November 2017 to seek justice.

Meanwhile, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NDPHC, Chinedu Ugbo, told the committee that NDPHC is a private limited liability company and had the right to hire and fire and could take a decision to disengage any staff without stating any reason.

Mr Chinedu stated that on assumption of office as the MD/CEO of NDPHC, he did not meet Mrs Mohammed and therefore, did not know the reason for her disengagement.

However, Mr Anyanwu said the committee found out that Mrs Mohammed’s disengagement was out of order, ”because due process in accordance with the terms and conditions of employment and disengagement of officers in the company was not followed”.

The committee also reported that she was not ”accused of any offence, or queried or suspended prior to her disengagement.”

The committee recommended that ”the Senate hereby mandate the NDPHC to reinstate Mrs Maryam Danna Mohammed and pay all her entitlements because her disengagement did not follow due process”.