Court orders immediate reinstatement of 217 disengaged Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic staff
Hon. Justice Polycarp Hamman of the National Industrial Court, Portharcourt Division has validated the recruitment exercise embarked upon by the Rivers State Polytechnic (now known as the Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic, Bori) between September 2013 and 1st April 2015, declared that AMANNAH IREJU and 216 others are bonafide members of the institution.
Justice Hamman made an order prohibiting the Registrar, Rector of the Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic from recruiting or appointing replacement for the 217 workers who were unlawfully disengaged.
The Court also granted an order mandating the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, and the Rector/Registrar of the institution to reinstate the 217 workers immediately and pay them all outstanding salaries forthwith.
From facts, the claimants – AMANNAH IREJU and 216 others had submitted that sequel to the advertisement for vacancies in 2015 which they applied, interviewed, given appointment letters, and issued staff identification cards, that to their dismay their appointments were terminated vide memo dated 15th of June, 2015 without any notice and were not allowed to represent themselves before the Polytechnic Council.
In defense, counsel to the defendants- Attorney General of Rivers State and 3 others, P. Enebeli, Esq. averred that the former Rector requested permission to recruit 270 academic and non-academic staff which was approved by the Governor, 435 persons contrary to the approval was employed.
That on the 3rd of June, 2015, after reviewing the purported ongoing recruitment exercise the Governor of Rivers State directed that same should be canceled. That since there was no prior request for the recruitment exercise in 2015 for 435 persons, and no approval was given for the exercise, the recruitment exercise is void, that the claimants were lawfully disengaged, urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.
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In opposition, the claimants’ counsel A. Ojenamah, Esq urged the court to discountenance the submission of the defendants that nothing suggest that the already concluded recruitment of his clients was never authorized or approved by the Rivers State Government as alleged, argued that AMANNAH IREJU and 216 others were not lawfully disengaged from the service of Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Polycarp Hamman held that the claimants have established the existence of an employment relationship between them and the Defendants and have shown that they were duly recruited into the services of the Ken Saro Wiwa Polytechnic.
The court held that the Defendants failed to follow due process as stipulated in the polytechnic Conditions of Service.
“I must state that whatever approval that was given was not within the knowledge of innocent applicants who were duly interviewed and subsequently employed by the 4th Defendant and issued staff ID Cards by the Head of Service who was also involved in the recruitment processes.
“The Claimants cannot be made to suffer for whatever lapses exhibited by the officials of the Defendants. In any case, having pored over exhibit DW1D, there is no indication that the appointments of the Claimants were determined or terminated because the 4th Defendant recruited officers above any approval limit.” Justice Hamman ruled
Lastly, the court refused the request for the sum of N500,000,000.00 (Five Hundred Million Naira) as general damages claim for lacking merit.
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