Court declares unauthorized deduction from Offoh’s Salary as Unconstitutional, awards N5m damages against Enugu Institute of Technology
The Presiding Judge, Enugu Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Oluwakayode Arowosegbe has set aside the suspension of Mr. Basil Offoh from office for being illegal; and ordered the Institute Of Management And Technology Enugu, Rector and Bursar to recall Mr. Offoh with immediate effect and place him on his rightful full salary and, all his arrears of full salaries be paid forthwith.
The Court declared the Institute’s arbitrary, malicious and unauthorized deduction from Mr. Basil Offoh’s half salary as a brazen violation of the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Arowosegbe granted AN ORDER OF MANDAMUS directing the Institute Of Management And Technology Enugu, Rector and Bursar to issue to Mr. Basil his pay slips for the months of June 2021 to February 2022 within seven days, and awarded the sum of Five Million Naira (N5,000,000) as exemplary damages against the Institute.
From facts, the claimant- Mr. Basil Offoh had pleaded that he has been receiving half salaries since 2019 to January 2022 and it was surprisingly reduced for February 2022. He deposed that he sought for the reason from the Bursar who said the reduction was in order, and all efforts to get his entitlement proved abortive.
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In defense, the defendant- Institute Of Management And Technology Enugu, Rector and Bursar averred that Mr. Basil had been on suspension since April 2018 till date and, not entitled to annual increments, which were wrongly paid to him and deducted in his subsequent pays.
The counsel to the Institute submitted that the Public Service Rules of Enugu State prohibits annual increment to civil servants on suspension and the Court is estopped from granting mandamus order in this situation.
In reply, the learned counsel to the claimant, P.O. ILOELUNACHI Esq submitted that the Public Service Rules of Enugu State do not apply to his client, being a public servant and the court had already set aside his suspension, which the institute continued to pay him half salaries in disobedience to the judgment.
He further stated that his client was discriminated against on this issue of increment during suspension because his colleague who was similarly on suspension received an increment within the time without the Rector ordering its deduction.
Delivering the judgment after careful analysis of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Olukayode Arowosegbe held that SSCS, which contains the conditions of service of Mr. Basil is the applicable Rules by virtue of SS. 38&39 of the IMTL and S. 318(1) of the Constitution, which made a distinction between public servants and civil servants.
The Court stated that Basil Offoh’s argument of discrimination that another staff on similar suspension like him had his annual increment has not been refuted, and the ILO Nigerian ratified forbids discrimination in employment relations on the bases of ethnic and political distinctions among others.
The COURT declared the refusal and failure of the Institute to issue Mr. Basil his pay slips for the months of June 2021 to January 2022 despite his two applications as a violation of workplace right and amounts to unfair labour practice.
“They have not even been able to show that they lawfully suspended him. To make matters worse, they have been toying with his half salaries arbitrarily ever since the four years plus, without the courtesy of prior or contemporaneous explanation. These catalogues of maltreatments are definitive of gross unfair labour practices and taken together, amount to a clear constructive dismissal and employment harassments, which the law frowns on.
“The claimant is therefore not liable to make any refund and the sums illegally deducted from the claimant’s salaries must be refunded, while the claimant must be recalled from the suspension with immediate effect and placed on his rightful full salary and, all his arrears of full salaries paid forthwith.” Justice Arowosegbe ruled.