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P. H. M. B. v. Edosa

PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITALS MANAGEMENT BOARD

V

MRS.  DORIS EDOSA

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

ABUBAKAR BASHIR WALI, JSC ( Presided and Read the Lead Judgment )

EMANUEL OBIOMA OGWUEGBU, JSC

UTHMAN MOHAMMED, JSC

UMARU ATU KALGO, JSC

AKINTOLA OLUFEMI EJIWUNMI, JSC

SC. 163/1995

FRIDAY, 23RD FEBRUARY, 2001

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW - Fair hearing - Need to grant in favour of employee accused of theft

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Criminal trial - Onus on both complainant and accused

FAIR HEARING - Fair hearing - Need to grant in favour of employee accused of theft

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Fair hearing - Need to allow person accused of theft to cross-examine his accusers

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Trial - Fair hearing - Need to be strictly complied with - Need not to cling to procedural technicalities

Issues:

i. Whether the respondent’s appointment was validly terminated in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Psychiatric

Hospital Management Board Act, Cap. 374 ii. Whether in determining the case of the respondent, the appellant duly observed the principles of fair hearing and natural justice.

  1. Whether the learned Justices of the court of appeal were right in holding that the respondent was tried by the appellant in respect of a criminal charge of stealing in breach of section 33(1)  and 33(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1979 as amended.
  2. Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right in relying on Exhibit M, in giving judgment in favour of the respondent, when in fact the respondent impugned the validity of same.

Facts:

The respondent was a catering officer in the service of the appellant at Uselu, Benin City.  She was accused of stealing some quantity of fresh tomatoes and two tins of pronto beverage at her place of work.  She was suspended from work and a disciplinary committee was set up by the Medical Director of the appellant to conduct an enquiry into the accusation. After the inquiry, the Medical Director by a letter dated 23rd December, 1987 (Exhibit F) terminated the appointment of the respondent.  She appealed to the Executive Secretary of the appellant in Lagos and she was invited to appear before the appointment, promotions and disciplinary committee in Lagos.  At the end of the committee proceedings (Exhibit M), the Executive Secretary of the appellant by a letter dated 28th March, 1988 , (Exhibit J) terminated the appointment of the respondent, superseding Exhibit F mentioned earlier.

The respondent challenged her termination in the trial High Court

Benin City which dismissed her claims.  She then appealed to the Court of Appeal Benin City which allowed her appeal and ordered her reinstatement and payment of her accrued benefits. The appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.