Otto Sam feels vindicated after High Court victory
October 28, 2016
Otto Sam feels vindicated after High Court victory

Former head teacher Otto Sam feels vindicated after the High Court ruled last week that his dismissal from the public service in 2013 was “improper”, “illegal” and “disproportionate”.

“It feels good… it puts to rest what all the commentators might have thought …that public servants do not have the right to communicate to the public; that we are still in a democracy; that good still triumphs over evil and that the night might be dark and we might be prosecuted, but in the end we will be vindicated,” Sam told SEARCHLIGHT last Friday.{{more}}

In May 2013, Sam was relieved of his position as head teacher of the South Rivers Primary School and of his assignment at the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO).

Before that, in August 2012, he was suspended on half pay, as a disciplinary inquiry was instituted against him for letters he had written to the local media on July 24, 2012. He was at the time assigned to NEMO. Sam had been transferred on assigned to NEMO on August 30, 2010 from the South Rivers Methodist School.

Sam, however, stated that since his transfer to NEMO in 2010 has been ruled illegal by the court, in the eyes of the law, he is still a head teacher in the Ministry of Education.

“Because my transfer to NEMO was illegal and because the charges in this matter were brought by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security who was not my heard of department… all that happened there would have been null and void. Effectively really in law… I am supposed to be a principal,” he explained.

He noted that his reinstatement is dependent on the Government, since he is two years away from retirement. Sam, however, stated that he is unsure whether the Government would reinstate him, or pay him for the next two years without giving him back a position in the public sector.

Sam told SEARCHLIGHT that the last few years were both the best and worst of times. He stated that because of loss of wages, things were extremely difficult for him economically. “The things you were doing — taking care of your mortgage, your family, your loans and your commitments you were not able to physically. But it was also the best of times in that you got to rely on God, knowing that man shall not live by bread alone.”

The entire process however brought him closer to God.

“So, out of all of it, I became a closer friend of God; I give God thanks for that.”

Last week, counsel for Sam, Jomo Thomas, told SEARCHLIGHT that Justice Esco L Henry ordered that Sam receive full pay from the time he was suspended, with benefits and full pension.

He noted that he hopes the Government honours the ruling handed down by the court.

“We hope that it is honoured… and time wasting is not adopted… so we would just follow the instructions of the court as it related to damages.”

This is the second case Sam has won against the Government.

In 2015, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Government had illegally transferred Sam from the South Rivers Primary School to the NEMO and instructed the Government to pay Otto Sam costs of $2,500 plus damages. (CM)