BY A CORRESPONDENT
The National Industrial Court has ordered the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) to immediately reinstate its dismissed staff, Edwin Ameh, to his position as Principal Hardware Engineer.
Delivering judgment, Justice Osatohanmwen Obaseki-Osaghae also nullified the purported termination and ordered the payment of the claimant’s accrued salaries, allowances and entitlements from July 30, 2018 when he was placed on suspension till date.
The court further held that the disciplinary process culminating in the decision that led to the termination of the claimant’s appointment was made outside the time frame provided by the University Law.
The judge equally averred that the reason stated in the termination letter did not fall within provisions of the university laws.
“The decision of the University Governing Council terminating the claimant’s appointment dated June 18, 2019 is of no effect.
“The court, in addition, awards the cost of N100,000 against the university,” she ruled.
From facts, the claimant had submitted that he was a Principal Hardware Engineer and that prior to his employment termination he was placed on suspension for more than eleven months over alleged misconduct on July 12, 2018 without being issued a query.
He further averred that the defendant summoned him to the investigating panel where he was told of the alleged offence and the second committee set up also exonerated him of the alleged offence.
He also submitted that the vice-chancellor recommended his reinstatement, but it was ignored.
In his defence, the defendant stated that the claimant was given notice of the allegations against him and was afforded the opportunity of appearing before the committee.
The institution also argued that the claimant was heard by members of the committee where the offence against him was established.
The university further argued that the claimant was paid one month salary in lieu of notice, which he accepted.
“He cannot be heard to complain that his employment was not validly terminated as the institution is not privy to the alleged state of mental health, financial incapacity or personal issues suffered by the claimant.”
The court, on its part, after evaluating the submissions of both counsel, held that an employee who complains that his employment contract is breached has the burden to place before the court the terms and conditions of his employment.
The court, in addition, stated that the claimant complied with the requirement by placing before the court the relevant documents as required by law.
It further held that the inaugural meeting of the committee, held on Nov. 21, 2018, was outside the three months provided by the University Law for the Council to consider the case against the claimant and come to a decision.
The court affirmed that the rules and procedures regulating discipline and termination of employment protected by statute or on employment with statutory flavour ought to have been strictly complied with by the defendant. (NAN)
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