From Kehinde Adewole
An Industrial Court sitting in AKure, Ondo State capital on Tuesday has ordered the resinstatement of 32 staff of the Ekiti State University (EKSU) who were illegally sacked by the Management on December 5, 2019.
Justice K.D Damulak, the presiding Jugde also ordered that the University management pay each of the claimants a sum of N50,000 each as compensation.
While delivering his judgement he said: “ I have read the pleadings and the legal submissions of both counsels. I am of the opinion that the issue for determination is whether the claimants have proven their entitlement to the reliefs claimed.
” In determining this issue, it shall be necessary to determine 1. Whether the employments of the claimants enjoy statutory protection and 2. Whether the disengagement of the claimants was compatible with their status of employments.
- Whether the employments of the claimants enjoy statutory protection.
The essence of a trial on record pursuant to order 38 Rule 33 of the Rules of this court is that the issue or issues for determination of the court are all legal questions. The question, whether the employments of the claimants enjoy statutory protection, means that it is important to determine the status of the employments of the claimants from the statute establishing the University, the University regulation and the claimants’ letters of employments. An employment is said to enjoy statutory flavor when the tenure, discipline and other conditions are as provided in the statute establishing the employee or institution. An employment with statutory flavor was defined by the court of Appeal in the case of N.E.P.A. v. EDEGBERO (2000) 14 NWLR (Pt.688)615; (2000) LPELR-6884(CA) relying on the decision of the Supreme Court decision in IMOLOAME V. WA.E.C. (1992) 11/12 SCNJ 121 at
135; (1992) 9 NWLR (Pt. 265) 303 thus; ” What in effect is an employment with statutory flavour. The Supreme Court had in the case of Imoloame v. WA.E.C. (1992) 11/12 SCNJ 121 at 135; (1992) 9 NWLR (Pt. 265) 303 defined it as: “Where the contract of service is governed by the provisions of a statute or where the Conditions of Service are contained in regulations derived from statutory provisions they invest the employee with a legal status higher than the ordinary one of Master and Servant. They accordingly enjoy statutory flavour”.: ” The claimants’ counsel rightly gave a take off point as the case of K.S.J.S.C V TOLANI (2020) ALL FWLR (PART 1025)P.480 at 503 where the Supreme Court Held thus;
The following two elements must exist before a contract of employment can be said to have statutory flavor;
a. The employer must be a body set up by the constitution or sta
b. The statute or regulations made pursuant to the constitution Statute or law must make provisions regulating the employm of the category of the employee concerned especially i discipline.
” A statute is a law made by the national or state legislature. The defendant is a creation of law, University of Ado-Ekiti law of 2008, amended in 2011 and 2014. To this extent, the first requirement is met. The second requirement is whether the said law or the regulations made pursuant to that law protects the employment of the category of the claimants so that they cannot be terminated by notice or salary in lieu of notice for services not required.
- I have read the 24 sections of the University of AdoEkiti law of 2014. I find in section 5(a)(iii), the power of the University to institute academic, administrative, technical, professional and other posts and offices and to make appointments thereto. Section 11(a)(c) empowers the University to make statutes which means Rules and Regulations.
” It is also worthy to note that the claimants are staff of a state owned University. They are accordingly in the public service of the state according to section
318 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended being staff of an Educational institution established and financed by the Government of Ekiti State.
” In DANIEL M. OGBAJE V. ABUJA INVESTMENT AND PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT COMPANY LIMITED (2007) LPELR-11855(CA) the court held that; The appellant’s employment, including the procedure for terminating his appointment is regulated by the terms and conditions of Exhibit “F”, the respondent’s Staff Conditions of Service. Consequently, the justice of this case demands that the termination of the appellant’s’ employment must be in accordance with those terms and conditions contained in Exhibit “F” in consonance with the rules of natural justice. What is more, where as in this case, an employee by virtue of Exhibit “A” is qualified by his appointment to a permanent and pensionable position, the employee is not in a servant and master relationship with the employer. The employment cannot be determined at the will of parties but in accordance with the terms and obligations of the conditions of the employment.,” He submitted.
Speaking further, he said: “Whereas The Claimants vide a General form of Complaint filed on the 3rd March, 2020 claims against the Defendants the following reliefs:
i. A Declaration that the disengagement of the claimants as staff of the 1st defendant in the manner it was done was unlawful, irregular, illegal and therefore null and void and of no effect.
ii. An Order for the immediate restoration and reinstatement of the claimants to their offices without loss of salaries, promotions, emoluments and other allowances due to them as staff of the 1st defendant.
iii. Payment of the claimants’ three (3) month salaries, emoluments and other allowances owed them before the purported and unlawful disengagement.
iv. Payment of the claimants’ salaries, emoluments and allowances from the date of their purported and unlawful disengagements till date of judgment and thereafter.
v. An Order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves or through their servants, agents, privies acting through them or on their behalf from removing the claimants as staff of the 1st defendant without due process of law.
vi. Ten Million Naira (N10,000,000.00) only being general and aggravated damages against the defendants for the unlawful and illegal disengagement of the claimants in the manner it was done.
vii. Cost of this suit.
AND AFTER considering the written submissions of P.P Monde for the Claimants and Dayo Akinlaja SAN for the Defendants.
It was held that the claimants’ case succeed and the court orders as follows;
- The employments of the claimants with the defendants enjoy statutory flavor.
- The employment of the claimants with the defendants is regulated by the defendants statute,Regulations and the claimants’ letters of employment.
- The disengagement of the claimants in the manner it was done was unlawful, null and void.
- The claimants are hereby reinstated to their erstwhile positions in the 1st defendant.
- The 1st defendant is hereby ordered to pay the claimants their three months salaries owed them before their unlawful disengagement.
- The 1st defendant is hereby ordered to pay the claimants their salaries, emoluments and allowance and from the date of their unlawful termination till reinstatement today 8th December, 2020 and subsequently till retirement.
- The claimants are not entitled to general damages.
- The defendants are also to pay to each claimant cost of N50, 000.00.
- The salaries and cost up till today 8th December, 2020 are to be paid within 30 days of this judgment or the amounts will attract 10% interest per annum.” He said.