Industrial Court orders NOUN to immediately reinstate Edwin Ameh as Principal Hardware Engineer
Hon. Justice Ayodele Obaseki-Osaghae of the Abuja Judicial division of the National Industrial Court has nullified the purported employment termination of one Mr. Edwin Ameh from National Open University; ordered for his immediate reinstatement as Principal Hardware Engineer on CONTISS 11 STEP 1 with payment of all his accrued salaries, allowances and entitlements due to him from 30th July 2018 when he was placed on suspension till date.
The Court held that the disciplinary process culminating in the decision to terminate Mr. Edwin’s appointment was made outside the time frame provided by the University Law and the reason stated in the termination letter does not fall within provisions of the University Law.
Justice Obaseki-Osaghe declared that the decision of the University Governing Council terminating Mr. Edwin’s appointment dated 18th June 2019 is of no effect and awarded the Costs of N100,000 against the University.
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From facts, the claimant- Mr. Edwin Ameh 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 (11) months over alleged misconduct on the 21st of July 2018 without being issued a query.
He further averred that the defendant summoned him to the investigating committee/panel where he was told of the alleged offence which he knew nothing about, and the 2nd committee set up also exonerated him of the alleged offence, and reinstatement was recommended to the Vice-Chancellor but was ignored.
In defense, the defendant- NOUN stated that Mr. Edwin was given notice of the allegations against him, afforded the opportunity of appearing before the Committee, and was heard by members of the Committee, and the offence against him was established.
The University further argued that Mr. Edwin was paid one month’s salary in lieu of notice which he accepted and cannot be heard to complain that his employment was not validly terminated, that the institution is not privy to the alleged state of mental health, financial incapacity or personal issues suffered by the claimant, urged the court to dismiss the case.
In opposition, Mr. Edwin’s counsel, Michael Olajide maintained that the various acts of the University culminating in the termination of Mr. Edwin’s employment were done without strict compliance with the law establishing the University and his client’s condition of service, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought in the interest of justice.
The Court in its well-considered judgment presided by Justice Obaseki-Osaghae held that an employee who complains that his employment contract has been breached has the burden to place before the Court the terms and conditions of his employment that Mr. Edwin has placed before the court the relevant documents as required by law.
Justice Obaseki-Osaghae further held that the inaugural meeting of the Committee held on 21st November 2018 is outside the three months provided by the University Law for the Council to consider the case against Mr. Edwin and come to a decision.
The Court affirmed that the rules and procedures regulating discipline and termination of employment protected by statute or with statutory flavour must be strictly complied with.
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