The Presiding Judge, Akure judicial division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice K. D. Damulak has nullified the purported dismissal of Mr. Ogundipe Oluwafemi and 31 others, ordered the Ekiti State University to immediately reinstate them to their earlier position as technologist with payment of their salaries, emoluments and allowance and from December 2019 till date within 30 days.
The Court held that the institution and the governing council did not comply with the regulations governing claimants’ employment, ordered the university to pay them the sum of One Million, Six Hundred thousand Naira as cost of action.
From facts, the claimants- Mr. Ogundipe Oluwafemi and 31 others had submitted that they were offered appointments by the University in 2016 respectively as Technologists and confirmed in 2019 that unluckily their appointments were terminated in December 2019.
They maintained that defendants owe them three months salaries in 2018 that disengaging them summarily without any wrongdoing was unlawful having not complied with their conditions of service.
In defence, the university contended that the disengagement of the claimants was purely in the exercise of the prerogative available to the institution under the applicable Regulations that the claimants were all directed through their letters of disengagement to liaise with the office of the Bursar for the purposes of working out their final entitlements if any, which if they have done would have settled the issue of their alleged entitlement to three months’ arrears of salaries and further that their assumption of employments not lawfully terminated is unfounded and indefensible in law urged the Court to dismiss the case in its entirety.
In opposition, the claimants’ counsel P.P Monde Esq with J.S Balogun Esq opined that the conditions of service of the university that there was no need of contacting the Bursar to mutually sort out their entitlements as same are statutorily fixed to the knowledge of the defendants, hence their purported disengagement remains unlawful, wrongful and illegal, null, void and of no effect urged to so hold.
Defendants learned Counsel Dayo Akinlaja SAN contended that having shown that the university were willing to pay the claimants’ their final entitlements, which include the three months’ salaries in lieu of notice that the terms of the claimants’ employments were not violated by the defendants in any manner in the course of terminating their employments urged the court to hold so.
Delivering the Judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Damulak held that employment cannot be determined at the will of parties but in accordance with the terms and obligations of the conditions of the employment.
“It follows, therefore, that determination of such appointment for “services no longer required” is not compatible with the status of the claimants.
“Similarly, determination by notice or salary in lieu of notice as contained in the 1st defendant’s regulation is also incompatible with the status of an employee in the pensionable cadre in the public service of a state.
“The implication of the above is that the defendants did not comply with the regulations and that makes the disengagement null and void. The result also is that the claimants are entitled to an order of reinstatement and any amount owed them before their disengagement and thereafter till retirement and I so order.”
Lastly, the court also ordered the university to pay the claimants their three months salaries owed them before their unlawful disengagement.