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Bank of Sierra Leone taken to court for human rights abuse

Bank of Sierra Leone taken to court for human rights abuse

IN THE COMMUNITY COURT OF JUSTICE OF THE ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES (ECOWAS) HOLDEN AT ABUJA, NIGERIA, DECEMBER 2012

SUIT NO. ECW/CCJ/APP/      /2012

BETWEEN:

NATHANIEL SHOLA BALDWIN WELLINGTON – PLAINTIFF

AND

BANK OF SIERRA LEONE – DEFENDANT

APPLICATION PURSUANT TO:

  • Article 11(1) of the Protocol of the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States A/P1/7/91 (as amended by the Supplementary Protocol A/SP.1/01/05.
  • Articles 32 and 33 of the Rules of the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States.
  • Articles 5, 9 (2) 15 and 19 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1986.
  • Articles 19 and 23 (1), (2) and (3) of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.
  • Sections 15 and 27(2) of the 1991 Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

NAME AND ADDRESS OF THE PLAINTIFF:

The name of the Plaintiff herein is Nathaniel Shola Baldwin Wellington. His address is 23 Collegiate School Road, Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa.

DESIGNATION OF THE DEFENDANT:

The Defendant is: The Bank of Sierra Leone whose address is Siaka Stevens Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa.

SUBJECT MATTER OF PROCEEDING:

  • Violation of the Plaintiff’s Human Right against discriminatory treatment by an outright denial of his legitimate right to payment for his services rendered to the Defendant herein.
  • Unlawful termination of the contract between the Defendant and the Plaintiff herein by the Defendant.

FACTS:

WHEREAS:

  • The Plaintiff was employed by the Defendant between October 2004 and March 2010 as a National Consultant (Adviser to the Governors) on Capital Market Development.
  • The Defendant, Bank of Sierra Leone, is the Central Bank of Sierra Leone incorporated under the Laws of the above named country.

NARRATION OF FACTS BY THE PLAINTIFF:

  • Plaintiff avers that he is a Community Citizen and was employed by the Defendant between October, 2004 and March 2010 as a National Consultant (Adviser to the Governors) on Capital Market Development.
  • The Plaintiff avers that on the 19th day of August 2004 the Defendants entered into an agreement and solicited the services of the Plaintiff as National Consultant (Adviser to the Governors) on Capital Market Development; effective 1st day of October 2004 for a period of One (1) Year renewable at the expiration of such term and for a consideration of Le 54,883,561.50 (D4/10) together with other terms and conditions at Head of Department Status. A copy of the said agreement is hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW1” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • That after the signing of the said Agreement the Plaintiff went into employment and complied with his obligations as per the said agreement.
  • That the Defendant granted the Plaintiff a one (1) year renewal for the aforementioned contract of employment in successive years between October 2005 and September 2009 with similar terms and conditions. Copies of the said renewal of employment contract are hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW2 (i-iv)” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • After the expiration of the contract of renewal in September 2009, the Defendant terminated the said agreement without serving or otherwise communicating notice of termination to the Plaintiff.
  • That the said termination is in violation of fundamental provisions of the Defendant’s Staff Handbook and in particular Article 8.1 (e) which provides that: “Where it has been decided not to offer an extension of appointment to a staff member holding a fixed-term appointment, the staff member shall be notified thereof no less than three (3) months before the expiry of the appointment, or in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract.” A copy of the relevant page of the said Handbook is hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW3” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • Furthermore, the Plaintiff was not paid severance benefit which was the Plaintiff’s entitlement as per the provisions of Article 8.3 (a) of the Defendant’s Staff Handbook which provides that: “One month’s basic salary for every completed year of service to the Bank, subject to, and inclusive of, an initial qualifying period of 5 years, and provided that in computing benefits, a fraction of 1 year in excess of 6 months over and above the computed full years’ service shall be rounded up to a full year; and that a fraction that is below 6 months shall be discounted from computation.” A copy of the relevant page of the said Handbook is hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW4” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • That in January 2009 the Defendant instituted a salary restructuring scheme which created a new salary structure for all its employees including the Plaintiff.
  • Immediately prior to the salary restructuring, the Plaintiff was an employee of the Defendant on D4/13 of the Defendant’s then existing salary scales.
  • That the said new salary scheme which came into effect in January 2009 was never effected on the Plaintiff’s salary despite several requests and demands by the Plaintiff. . A copy of a letter containing the Plaintiff’s requests and demands is hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW5” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • By a letter dated 4th June 2009, the Plaintiff was informed by the Defendant that the terms of the Plaintiff’s existing contract were fixed and could not be varied, the general salary restructuring notwithstanding. A copy of the said letter is hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW6” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • That on the 24th September 2009 the Defendants entered into another agreement ‘Fixed Term’ appointment and solicited the services of the Plaintiff as National Consultant; effective 1st day of October 2009 for a period of 6 Months and for a consideration of Le 13,000,000.00 per month. A copy of the said agreement is hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW7” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • This violated another fundamental provision of the Defendant’s Staff Handbook and in particular Article 4.6 (b) which provides the Definition of a Fixed Term Appointment as appointment for a specified duration of at least one year. A copy of the relevant page of the said Handbook is hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW8” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • Plaintiff avers that it is for aforementioned reasons that on the 4th March 2010 he submitted a Letter of Complaint to the then Ombudsman of the Republic of the Sierra Leone for consideration. A copy of the said Complaint is hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW9” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • That the then Ombudsman consequently summoned a meeting with the Defendant to discuss the matter.
  • The Plaintiff further avers that the Defendant was represented at the said meeting, held on the 7th May 2010, by the Defendant’s then Acting Director of Human Resources and Legal Officer.
  •  The conclusion of the said meeting was that the Defendant will revisit the complaint and revert to the said Ombudsman.
  • Upon failure of the Defendant to revert to the said Ombudsman, the Ombudsman in question addressed a letter to the Defendant on 1st day of June 2010 suggesting that the matter be looked into with a view to a possible amicable settlement. A copy of the said letter is hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW10” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • Again the Defendant failed to address the issue. Hence, the Ombudsman addressed his letter of 22nd September 2010 to the Plaintiff, conveying his advice in the circumstances. A copy of the said letter is hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW11” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • The Plaintiff avers that it is against this backdrop that he submitted a complaint to the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone for immediate consideration and intervention. A copy of the said complaint is hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW12” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • The said Commission advised in a letter dated 15th December 2010 that the matter raised is one to be determined by a court of law. A copy of the said letter is hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW13” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • The Plaintiff avers that he consequently submitted complaints to the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights on three separate occasions in April 2011, October 2011 and June 2012. Copies of the said complaints are hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW14 (i-iii)” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • The Plaintiff avers that it was against this backdrop that he instructed his Solicitors Messrs. Nicol-Wilson & Co who wrote a letter to the Defendant demanding compensation for unlawful dismissal, severance benefit plus interest but the Defendant outrightly rejects the claims of the Plaintiff herein. Copies of the said letters is hereby pleaded and marked “NSBW15 (i-ii)” and shall be relied upon in the course of this case.
  • The Plaintiff shall contend that both the termination in September 2009 and the failure on the part of the Defendant to pay moneys owed by the Defendant to the Plaintiff in respect of payment of salary drawback between January 2009 and March 2010 were illegal and were made by the Defendant maliciously and in absolute bad faith with the sole intention of making it impossible for the Plaintiff to pursue his monetary claims against the Defendant for work done for the said Defendant.
  • That the Plaintiff avers that the Defendant is in breach of the said Agreements and have shown no indication to remedy the said breach, to the detriment of and against the interest of the Plaintiff herein.
  • The Plaintiff hereby gives the Defendant Notice to produce all documents referred to by the Plaintiff in the preceding paragraphs of this pleading       which originals are in possession of the Defendant. 

RELIEF SOUGHT BY THE PLAINTIFF 

  • WHEREOF the Plaintiff claims against the Defendant as follows:
  • A  MANDATORY ORDER compelling the Defendant to pay the sum of Le 65,000,000.00 (US$14,770.00) being payment for severance benefit for a period of 5 years as per the provision of the Defendant’s Staff Handbook.
  • A  MANDATORY ORDER compelling the Defendant to pay the monies owed by the Defendant to the Plaintiff in respect of payment of salary drawback between January 2009 and March 2010.
  • INTEREST of 25% on each such sum mentioned in Reliefs’ (a) and (b) above from the 1st January 2009 until Judgment.
  • A  MANDATORY ORDER compelling the Defendant to pay the Plaintiff the sum of US$ 250,000 as general and exemplary damages for the callous and inhuman treatment meted out to the Plaintiff by unlawful dismissal without severance benefit.
  •  COST of prosecuting this suit including the solicitors’ fee of the Plaintiff assessed to be US$ 40,000 (Forty Thousand United States Dollars). 

NATURE OF THE EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT

DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE AND VIVA VOCE 

DOCUMENTARY 

A.

  1. Revised Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) 1993.
  2. Protocol of the Community Court of Justice of West African States (A/P1/7/91 as amended by the supplementary protocol of the Community Court of Justice of ECOWAS (A/SP. 01 /05)
  3. The Rules of the Community Court of Justice.
  4. The Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991.
  5. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
  6. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948

 B.        Copies of the documents listed in the schedule attached to this pleading. 

ORAL

Evidence of witnesses 

DATED THIS    10th     DAY OF   December   2012 

MELRON C NICOL-WILSON ESQ.
NICOL-WILSON & CO
MALAIKA CHAMBERS
PLAINTIFF’S COUNSEL
1ST FLOOR
12 PADEMBA ROAD
FREETOWN
REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE

PLAINTIFF’S SOLICITOR’S ADDRESS FOR SERVICE AT THE SEAT OF THE COURT:

NICOL-WILSON & CO
MALAIKA CHAMBERS
PLAINTIFF’S COUNSEL
1ST FLOOR
12 PADEMBA ROAD
FREETOWN
REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE 

NAMES OF PERSONS AUTHORISED TO ACCEPT SERVICE:

  •  Melron C. Nicol-Wilson Esq.
  • Any of his Staff

Service may also be effected on the Plaintiff’s Solicitor by telefax or other technical means of communication in accordance with Article 33 Rule 2 on  Email: enquiries@malaikachambers.org and/or (232) 33414003.

ADDRESS FOR SERVICE ON THE DEFENDANT:

BANK OF SIERRA LEONE
PO BOX 30
SIAKA STEVENS STREET
FREETOWN
REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE

SCHEDULE

  • An agreement dated 12th August 2004
  • Renewals of Contract Employment
  • Bank of Sierra Leone Staff  Handbook
  • A Letter dated  21st May 2009
  • A Letter dated 4th June 2009
  • A Letter dated 4th March 2010
  • A Letter dated 1st day of June 2010
  • A Letter dated 22nd September 2010
  • A Letter dated 27th September 2010
  • A Letter dated 8th August 2012

 

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