Hon. Justice Olufunke Anuwe of the Abuja Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has declared the retroactive and retrospective removal of Dr. Ahmed Musa as a director of the Abuja Investments Company Limited via a letter dated 7th July 2020 and purporting to take effect from 12th April 2016 as wrongful, illegal, unconstitutional, null and void; ordered for immediate reinstatement of Dr. Musa to his position as a director with payment of all remunerations or allowances due to him from 2017 to date.
Justice Anuwe further granted an order restraining the Abuja Investments Company Limited, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Federal Capital Territory Administration either by themselves or agents from replacing Dr. Ahmed Musa by appointing any person whosoever as a director in the Board of Directors of the Abuja Investments Company during the subsistence of his appointment.
The Court also declared that Dr. Ahmed Musa cannot be singled out for retirement at 60 years as a director of the Abuja Investments Company when there is no such age limit for directors provided for in the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the company.
From facts, the Claimant- Dr. Ahmed Musa had questioned his retirement as MD and removal as Director of the 1st Defendant with effect from 12th April 2016 on the ground that he had attained the age of 60 years pursuant to the provisions of the employee handbook of the 1st Defendant on 7th July 2020.
He submitted that his employment as MD/CEO and a Director of Abuja Investments Company Limited is not regulated by the employee handbook under which he was retired but his employment is statutorily protected by CAMA and the clause in the handbook relied on to retire him from office is inconsistent with the CAMA which did not provide age limit or retirement age of Company Directors.
In defense, the Abuja Investments Company Limited averred that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter governed by CAMA, that only the Federal High Court has jurisdiction to entertain such, urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.
The defendants continued that the retirement of Dr. Ahmed Musa as MD and removal as Director were said to have been done in accordance with the condition of service having failed to retire upon attaining the age of 60 years in 2016.
In opposition, the learned counsel to Dr. Ahmed Musa, maintained that his client’s cause of action was founded on his employment relationship with the 1st Defendant which the court has jurisdiction to entertain, urged the court to dismiss the objection.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Olufunke Anuwe dismissed the objection for lacking merit and held that the removal of Dr. Ahmed Musa from office as MD does not affect his position as a director that such removal is not in accordance with CAMA and therefore unlawful, null and void.
Justice Anuwe continued that while the conditions of service regulate the position of MD, the provisions of CAMA regulate the office of the Director.
The Court held that age is not a reason under CAMA for the removal of a director from the office that it was wrong for the 1st Defendant upon retiring Dr. Ahmed Musa from office as MD after attaining the age of 60 years to remove him from the office of the director of the company on the same reason that no requirement in the CAMA for a Director of a company to vacate office on reaching 60 years of age or to be removed from office upon attaining 60 years of age.
Lastly, Justice Anuwe awarded the sum of N5,000,000.00 to Dr. Ahmed Musa as general damages for his wrongful and unlawful removal as a director of the Abuja Investments Company Limited.