The Presiding Judge, Akure Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, His Lordship, Hon. Justice K. D. Damulak has granted an order directing the Federal University of Technology Akure and its Vice-Chancellor to henceforth follow the conditions of service in appointing the Director of the Industrial Training Unit by advertising the position and barred handpicking.
The Court also ordered the institution to allow qualified members of the NASU, SSANU in the Industrial Training Unit to participate in the appointment process, to apply and be interviewed for the appointment of the Unit Director.
From facts, the claimants – NASU and SSANU had alleged that following the vacancy in the office of the Director of the ITU of the 1st defendant from 1st August 2019, the defendants are about handpicking another person for the position in flagrant violation of ITF and NUC regulations as well as Scheme of service and condition of service of Employees that unless the court intervenes.
Learned counsel to the unions, O. T. K. Mesewonrun Esq. argued that the unions have fulfilled their duty of placing adequate materials before the court and urged the court to grant their prayers in its entirety.
In defence, the university submitted that they have no intention to handpick for the position of Director of the Industrial Training Unit that they have never at any time appointed an unqualified person as Director of the Industrial Training Unit that the Reviewed Regulations Governing the Condition of service of Employees do not provide that the position of the Industrial Training Unit be advertised.
That the senate in its extant resolutions policy directives at the 195th Statutory Meeting that Academic Staff (professor) be appointed as Director to head the Industrial Training Unit forms part of the Rules and Regulations of the University made from time to time.
The defendants’ counsel U. Egbon Esq submitted further that the Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter for filing 13 months outside the stipulated three months, and further that by the Federal University of Technology, Akure Reviewed Regulations that until remedies available in the domestic forum are exhausted, resort to Court action would be premature, urged the Court to dismiss the case in its entirety.
In his reply, the claimants’ counsel submitted that the Public Officers Protection Act is irrelevant to the suit that the Senate does not have the power to make career rules for the institution that the purported resolution is unknown to the condition of service and the scheme of service of the institution.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice K. D. Damulak held that the cause of action is an apprehension of a wrong about to be committed and cannot be and is not caught by the Public Officers Protection Act, dismissed the objection for lacking merit.
“By the scheme of service, all directors by appointment are on CONTISS 15 and there is nothing in the scheme of service that differentiates a Director of ITU from any other Director. Accordingly, the Director of ITU qualifies as a similar office in which vacancy must also be advertised and interview conducted before the appointment.
“The implication is that since the position is by appointment after advertisement and interview, any person who meets the qualification as stated above can apply, not only Staff of the ITU.
“Also a professor in any of the above field will be qualified but definitely not the only qualified person. Any interested staff of the ITU who has the above qualification is equally qualified to be appointed and so must be given the opportunity to apply and be interviewed along with other qualified and interested candidates.”