IN THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT
IN THE OWERRI JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT OWERRI
BEFORE HER LORDSHIP HON. JUSTICE O. Y. ANUWE
SUIT NO: NICN/OW/39/2014
Onyemachi Okwudiri Odi ] CLAIMANT
University of Agriculture, Umudike (A.K.A. Michael Okpara University Defendants of Agriculture, Umudike) ANOR ] DEFENDANT
C. N. Nwokorie for the Claimant
W. O. Agugo holding the brief of Emma Ukaegbu for the Defendant.
This action was initially commenced by way of Writ of Summons filed at the Federal High Court, Umuahia on the 3rd day of December 2004 before it was subsequently transferred to this court by an order of transfer made on the 12th day of December 2013. Upon coming up on the 30th day of April 2014, I ordered parties to re-file their processes to bring them in compliance with the rules of this court, following which the Claimant filed a Complaint on the 3rd day of June 2014, wherein he sought the following reliefs: 1.A declaration that the purported dismissal of the Claimant from the employment of the University of Agriculture Umudike (a.k.a. Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike) by letter of dismissal No MOUAU/SS/368/Vol.1 0f 2/6/2004 is null and void and of no effect. 2.A declaration that the Claimant is still in the employment of the University of Agriculture Umudike (a.k.a. Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike). 3.An order directing the 1st Defendant to reinstate the Claimant to his status as a staff of the said University of Agriculture Umudike (a.k.a. Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike) without prejudice to entitlements and promotions which might have accrued to the Claimant during the period of his purported dismissal. 4.An injunction restraining the 1st Defendant from further interfering with the Claimant’s performance of his duties as a staff of the University of Agriculture Umudike (a.k.a. Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike). IN THE ALTERNATIVE: The Claimant claimed against the 1st Defendant, the sum of N50,000,000.00 (Fifty Million Naira) being special and general damages for wrongful dismissal of the Claimant from the employment of the 1st Defendant. The Writ was filed alongside a Statement of Claim, List of witnesses, Claimant’s Written Statement on oath of the Claimant’s Witnesses, List of documents and copies of the documents to be relied upon at the trial. These originating processes were served on the defendants on June 9 2014. The Defendants on 15th October 2014, filed a Statement of Defence, Written Deposition of the Defendant’s Witnesses, List of Witnesses, List of Documents and copies of documents to be relied upon at trial. These were accordingly regularized and hearing commenced on the 17th day of November 2014. The Claimant testified for himself as CW1, while Kalu Joseph Okorie and Chimezie Enyidede testified for the defendants as DW1 and DW2 respectively. Hearing ended on the 28th day of September 2015, and parties were ordered to file their Final Written addresses in accordance with the rules of this court. By the 17th day of November 2015, the Claimant proceeded to file his Final Address; the Defendants having not yet filed theirs. The Defendant’s Final Address was filed on the 8th day of December 2015, and the Claimant filed a Reply on points of Law on the 9th day of February 2016. These were regularized and parties adopted their respective written addresses on the 23rd day of February 2016. The Claimant raised three issues for determination in his address as follows: 1.Whether the Claimant's suit is statute barred. 2.Whether the Defendants compiled with the procedure provided in the senior staff condition of service before dismissing the Claimant. 3.Whether the Claimant is entitled to the relief sought by him. In arguing the first issue, counsel submitted that contrary to the Defendants’ averment in their Statement of Defence that the suit is statute barred; it is trite law that it is the Statement of Claim that determines the jurisdiction of the court. He argued that the Claimant in paragraph 29 of his Amended Statement of Claim averred that the dismissal letter was served on him on 5/9/2004 and on 6/9/2004, the Claimant through his counsel wrote a letter to the Defendants. The Claimant filed his suit before the Federal High Court Umuahia within a period of 3 months from the date of receipt of the dismissal letter. Learned Counsel for the Claimant, C.N. Nwokorie contended that the initial preliminary objection filed by the defendant at the Federal High Court was dismissed. He relied on UZODINMA vs. IZUNASO (NO. 2) (2011)17 NWLR (Pt. 1275) 30 at 75 where the Supreme Court held thus: “It is settled law that the court is at liberty to look at and utilize a document in its file while writing its judgment or ruling despite the fact that the document was not tendered and admitted as an exhibit at the trial” Counsel urged the Court to adopt the said ruling delivered by Hon. Justice E. A. Obile because the Defendants did not file any appeal against the said ruling. Again, counsel argued that the Defendants are estopped from raising the issue of statute bar before this court. This is owing to the fact that an existing Federal High Court ruling on the issue has not been set aside on appeal. Particularly, as the ruling was given in this same suit, subject matter and parties. See the cases of MAKUN vs. F.U.T MINNA (2011) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1278) 190 at 221 PARA E - F and LIASU vs. SALAU (2012) 2 NWLR (Pt. 1283) 162. He urged the Court to discountenance any evidence or submission made by the Defendants on the issue of statue bar because the issue has earlier been properly decided. He argued that in the event this Court held that the issue of statute bar has not been decided, the Claimant gave evidence that he received the letter of dismissal on 5/9/2004 and quickly wrote a letter through his counsel on 6/9/2004. Thus, the cause of action in this suit arose upon the receipt of the letter and not the date on the letter. See the case of IKINE vs. EDJERODE (2002) 10 WRN 46 at 65 Lines 40-45. Counsel submitted that the Defendant failed to contradict the evidence of the Claimant on the date of receipt of the letter. The DW1 in paragraph 11 of his written deposition which he adopted as his evidence stated as follows: “…The Plaintiff was personally served the letter dismissing him from the service of the 1st Defendant by Mr. Chimezie Enyidede on 9/6/2004” The DW2 at page 5 of his deposition which was adopted as his evidence stated thus: “That I then decided to check on him on Saturday morning 19/6/04. I found the Plaintiff present in his house and gave him the letter that was in the morning of Saturday 19/6/2014. It was later that the Plaintiff told me that the letter I gave him was his dismissal letter from the University.” It is the submission of Counsel that there is a material contradiction in the evidence of the Defendant’s witnesses. He submitted that where two or more witnesses of the same party gives contradictory piece of evidence on an issue, it is not left for the court to pick and choose as to which version of the story or evidence to believe. Counsel urged the Court to reject the two pieces of evidence as being unreliable and resolve issue one in favour of the Claimant. On issue two, counsel contended that the Claimant's appointment has statutory flavour, this is owing to the fact that Exhibit A (the Claimant’s appointment letter) is subject to the provision of Universities of Agriculture Decree 48 of 1992 and Regulations Governing the Conditions of Service of the Senior (HATISS 6 - 15) Staff members. Counsel referred to the case of OKWUSIDI vs. LADOKE AKINTOLA UNIVERSITY (2012) All FWLR (Pt. 632) 1774 at 1786, where the Court of Appeal held: “Where the terms and conditions of a contract of employment or service are specifically provided for by statute or regulations, it is said to be a contract protected by statue or an employment with statutory flavor.” See also ALHASSAN vs. A.B.U ZARIA (2011) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1259) 417 at 458 Para A-C. Counsel submitted that the above-cited cases are parimateria with the present case. He argued that the provisions of the Universities of Agriculture Decree 48 of 1992 and Federal University of Agriculture Umudike Senior Staff Regulations, Procedure and Conditions of Service made pursuant to Subsection 10(1) Schedule 2 of the Federal University of Agriculture Decree No. 48 of 1992 are incorporated by reference in Exhibit A. It is his further submission that statutory employment such as in the present case can only be terminated in the manner provided by the statute. See UJAM vs. I.M.T (2007) 2 NWLR (Pt. 101) 470 at 496. Exhibit J in this case, which is The Federal University of Agriculture Umudike Senior Staff Regulations, Procedure and Conditions of Service provides the procedure to follow before terminating the employment of a senior staff in its Chapter 12 Item 12.2(a) and (b) and Item 2.9 (ii) (a) (b) (c) (iii) (iv) and Item 12.9 (vii) (a - f) respectively. Chapter 12 Item 12.2 provides as follows: 12.2 - Disciplinary Measures a)Disciplinary action may be taken against a member of staff for proven cases of misconduct. The following procedure for staff discipline shall apply. b)The Vice - Chancellor shall constitute a staff investigation panel and a staff disciplinary committee to consider the report of the investigating panel. The report of the disciplinary committee shall be forwarded to council for consideration and decision. (See page 65 of Exhibit J) Chapter 12 Item 2.9 provides as follows: ii. An employee of the University shall be summarily dismissed a)If he corruptly accepts, or obtains or cause a person to accept or attempts to obtain from a person, for himself or for any other person any gift or consideration as an inducement or reward for doing or for failing to do any act in relation to the University's affairs or business. b)If he falsifies testimonial or personal records c)For failure to disclose any previous conviction for a criminal offence. iii. In the event of any acquittal on appeal the question of continuation in service and payment of arrears of emoluments shall be determined by the Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee with the approval of the Council. iv. Upon conviction of an employee on a criminal charge he shall be dismissed with effect from the date on which he was convicted. Chapter 12 Item 12.9 (vii) (a) - f) provides as follows: vii. An employee shall not be dismissed in accordance with this Regulation until: a)He has been told in writing the grounds on which he is being considered for dismissal; b)He has been given an opportunity of submitting representation to the Council through his Head of Department Unit. c)The appropriate Committee has considered his representations and the recommendations (if any,) of the Head of department/Unit. d)He has been given the opportunity to be present when witness(es) is/are testifying for or against him/her. e)He has been informed that a specific day, the question of his dismissal shall be brought before the Committee and that he shall be entitled to call witnessesand that his failure to appear shall not invalidate the proceedings of the Committee. f)The Committee has investigated into the matter and made a report to Council and Council has taken a decision to the effect that the staff be dismisses. It is Counsel’s argument that the 1st Defendant did not comply with the above procedure provided in the condition of service before dismissing the Claimant. In the extant case, the Vice Chancellor constituted a Staff Investigation Panel but did not constitute any Staff Disciplinary Committee. The report and proceeding of the staff investigation panel was tendered as Exhibit D1. Counsel submitted that by Chapter 12 Item 12.2 (b) of the Conditions of Service, the staff investigation panel is a fact finding panel. The Defendants did not constitute any disciplinary committee and did not produce or tender any report purported to have been made by any disciplinary committee.Once the staff investigation panel submits its report, the staff disciplinary committee will be set up. By combined effect of Chapter12 Item 12.2 (b) and Chapter 12 Item 12.9 (viii) (a) - (f) of the Conditions of Service, the staff disciplinary committee shall commence hearing and invite the affected staff for disciplinary action. He submitted that the 1st Defendant did not constitute any staff disciplinary committee and the Claimant was never invited before any staff disciplinary committee. Counsel referred to paragraph 33 of the Statement of Defence where it was averred as follows: "In answer to paragraph thirty six of the statement of claim, the Defendants state that the findings of the Internal Auditor who reconciled the accounts with the plaintiff, preceded the setting up of the investigation panel. The investigating panel invited and heard from the plaintiff and all other persons who had anything to do with the matter. The Plaintiff cross-examined all those who testified before the panel. The Disciplinary Committee does not take evidence or hear from the panel. The Disciplinary Committee does not take evidence or hear from the parties." He submitted that the Defendants by the said averment admitted that the Claimant was only invited before investigation panel and was not invited before the disciplinary committee. He submitted further that by Chapter 12 Item 12.9 (viii) (a)-(b) of the Condition of service, the disciplinary committee otherwise called the committee must invite and hear the party involved. In the present case, not only that the staff disciplinary committee was not set up by the 1st Defendant but the following procedure was never observed: 1.The Claimant was never at any time notified in writing that he is being considered for dismissal or the grounds of which he is being considered for dismissal. 2.The Claimant was never given any opportunity of submitting representation to the council. 3.There was no committee set up to consider any representations by the Claimant and no recommendation was also made by the Claimant's head of department/unit. 4.The Claimant was never invited to testify before any committee and or to bring any witness. 5.The Claimant was never informed that issue of his dismissal will be brought before the staff disciplinary committee on any specified day. 6.The staff disciplinary committee did not produce or submit any report before the council as none was tendered before the court. Furthermore, counsel submitted that the assertion in the dismissal letter about the report of a purported disciplinary committee is false. If there is any such report, the Defendants would have produced same and tender it before the Court. The Defendant did not deny the fact that no disciplinary committee was ever set up. He argued further that the onus is on the Defendants to produce the alleged report of the staff disciplinary committee. Thus, the dismissal of the Claimant by the council based on the report of the staff investigation panel is void because the council can only take its decision based on the report of the staff disciplinary committee. Also, the dismissal letter stated that the Claimant was dismissed based on embezzlement. Counsel argued that embezzlement and misappropriation are criminal offences and the 1st Defendant does have not power to find the Claimant guilty of a criminal offence. He further submitted that where there is a criminal allegation against an employee whose employment has statutory flavour, the employee cannot dismiss the said employee based on the said criminal allegation without being found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction. See INSTITUTE OF HEALTH AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL MANAGEMENT BOARD vs. ANYIP (2011) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1260) 1 at 16. Furthermore by the provisions of chapter 12 item 129 (iv) of the Condition of Service, Counsel asserted that a staff of the 1st Defendant cannot be dismissed over a criminal allegation unless he is convicted over the said offence. Thus, the action of the Defendants in dismissing the Claimant over a criminal allegation without the Claimant being found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction is null and void. It is another argument of Counsel relying on OKWUSIDI vs. LADOKE AKINTOLA UNIVERSITY (supra) that the letter of dismissal (Exhibit I) signed by the 2nd Defendant is void because there is no evidence to show that she was directed by the council to write and sign the letter on behalf on the council. Regarding issue three, Counsel submitted on the authority of FEDERAL MEDICAL CENTRE, IDO-EKITI vs. ALABI (2012) 2 NWLR (Pt. 1285) 411 at 444 that having shown that the dismissal of the Claimant is null and void, the Court has power to grant the Claimant's reliefs as contained in the amended statement of claim. See also F.M.C, IDO-EKITI vs. OLAJIDE (2011) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1258) Pg. 256 at Pg. 286. He contended that the Defendants did not deny the Claimant's alternative relief. Counsel urged the Court to enter judgment in favour of the Claimant. The Defendant’s Counsel raised one issue for determination in his Final address, which is: Whether due process was followed in the determination of the claimant's case by the 1stDefendant's Governing Council. Learned counsel for the Defendants argued that the Law establishing the University which is the Federal Universities of Agriculture Act C.A.P F22 of 1992 Section 18 and the Michael Okpara University Senior Staff Conditions of Service provide for procedure to be duly followed in staff discipline. He argued that the Claimant in his cross examination admitted that he was invited to the investigation panel which he honoured and made representations for himself. It is on record that such investigation panel was constituted by the Vice- Chancellor following the report of the Internal Auditor of the 1st Defendant. Finally, the Panel concluded its work and made its report which is Exhibit Dl in this suit. The said investigation panel at the conclusion of its work established a prima-facie case of gross misconduct against the Claimant which is defined by Public Service Rules 2008 at Section 4 Rule 030401, as a “serious misconduct being a specific act of very serious wrong doing and improper behavior which is inimical to the image of the service and which can be investigated and if proven, may lead to dismissal.” Also in the University Senior Staff Conditions of service for Michael Okpara University of agriculture Umudike, Abia State; Stealing or misappropriation of fund equally qualify for a gross misconduct. Counsel contended that where an employment has a statutory flavor, it is the duty of the employers in cases of discipline to ensure that relevant statutory provisions regarding discipline are duly followed. See OGUCHE vs. KANO STATE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION (1974) NMLR 128 and OKOSUN vs. CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA (1996) 2 NWLR (Pt. 428) 392. He submitted that the investigation report was duly sent to the Governing Council and the council exercised its function and power on the matter and dismissed the Claimant on the 2nd June, 2004. He argued further that the Claimant was given fair hearing to establish or deny his guilt and in all the panels he underwent he could not establish his innocence. He was also given opportunity to cross examine his accuser yet his guilt was firmly established. It is Counsel’s further submission that once due process is followed in dealing with staff discipline as provided by the laws which was the case here, the Court need not ascertain whether the outcome of the process is right or wrong. Counsel urged the Court to dismiss this case. In the Claimant's Reply on points of law filed on February 9 2016, counsel submitted that the investigation panel did not establish any prima facie case of gross misconduct against the Claimant. The panel by its report at page 30 stated"…from all indications, Mr Onyemachi has not yet told the panel the truth”. The implication of the said finding is that the panel failed to establish any case against the Claimant. Furthermore, the allegation against the Claimant was alleged misappropriation and embezzlement which is a pure criminal offence and not misconduct as wrongly submitted by the Defendants. Also, counsel argued that the Defendants’ submission in paragraph 4.4 of their written address, is an admission that no disciplinary committee was constituted before the Claimant's wrongful dismissal by the defendant. It is therefore an admission against interest. See JIBRIL vs. MIL. ADMIN KWARA STATE (2007) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1021) 357 at 382. Counsel submitted that the failure of the Defendants to follow the procedure spelt out in the conditions of service is very fatal to the Defendants’ case. The dismissal of the Claimant without following the aforesaid procedure amounts to a nullity. The Claimant was not given fair hearing. Again, counsel argued that the Defendants’ submission that the Claimant was given fair hearing is not supported by the evidence adduced during the hearing of this matter. There was also no documentary evidence tendered by the Defendants to show that the Claimant was found guilty of any allegation. There is also no evidence to show that the 2nd Defendant is/was the secretary of the University Governing Council. Counsel urged the court to hold that the Claimant's dismissal having not followed the procedure stipulated in the Senior Staff Condition of Service is null and void. Court’s Decision Having carefully considered the pleadings filed in this suit, the evidence adduced by the parties and the submissions of their respective counsels in the written addresses, only one issue suffices to resolves this matter. The issue to be determined is: Whether the claimant is entitled to the reliefs he sought in this suit. Before I embark on the consideration of the issue I have formulated for determination in this suit, it is important I briefly comment on an issue argued by the Claimants counsel in his written address. The issue is with reference to the pleading of the Defendants in paragraph 40 of the Statement of Defence where the Defendants averred that the Claimant’s suit is statute barred. None of the Defendants’ witnesses however gave any evidence of the averment nor did the Defendants’ counsel argue it in his final written address. Be that as it may, the Claimant’s counsel has drawn my attention to the fact that the same point was raised by the Defendants before the Federal High Court Umuahia and it was determined in that court before the suit was transferred here. I have ascertained from the record that this fact is correct. That being the case, this court cannot re-visit the issue. MAKUN vs. F.U.T MINNA (2011)18 NWLR (Pt. 1278) 190. I will now consider the issue identified for determination in this suit. The case of the Claimant, as stated by him in his evidence, is that he was employed by the 1st Defendant as a Higher Executive Officer in 1998 by the letter he put in evidence as Exhibit A. The Claimant said his appointment was confirmed through a letter dated 17th January 2002 and he was later promoted to the rank of Senior Executive Officer in 2002. The confirmation and promotion letters are in evidence as Exhibits B and C respectively. The Claimant said his duty was to collect revenue from sales of farm products of the consultancy Unit of 1st Defendant and also collect pre-degree fees from applicants. After collecting these sums, the Claimant said it was his duty to lodge the monies into the 1st Defendant’s account. But in the course of his duties, at the instruction of the Director of Consultancy Unit, he sometimes keeps some of the 1st Defendant’s revenue in a metal file cabinet which is in the office of the secretary to the Director. He has done this for up to two years without any incidence until 18/3/2003 when he retrieved the money he kept in the said metal file cabinet and took it to the bank to lodge but on getting to the bank, discovered that about N112,000.00 of the money was missing. He returned to work the following day and asked one Miss Ndidiamaka Iheanyichukwu, who works as a cleaner in the General office where the office cabinet was kept, where the missing money was but she denied any knowledge of the money. The Claimant said he searched her handbag and found N26,000.00 in it which sum he noticed are of the same specie of the money he kept inside the cabinet. Upon Ndidiamaka Iheanyichukwu’s confession to have taken the money from the cabinet, the Claimant reported the matter to the Director of the Consultancy Unit who called the Claimant, Ndidiamaka Iheanyichukwu and the Bursar to a meeting where Ndidiamaka Iheanyichukwu also confessed her misdeed. The Director of the Consultancy Unit then wrote a letter to the Vice Chancellor. The Claimant was suspended as a result through Exhibit D and the Vice Chancellor also set up a panel to investigate the matter. The panel wrote to him on 10/11/2003 and 2/12/2003 inviting him to appear before it. The invitation letters are in evidence as Exhibits G and H. The Claimant stated that the panel did not inform him of its findings but he was simply told to go. Ndidiamaka Iheanyichukwu also appeared before the panel on 4/12/2003 and admitted she tampered with the file cabinet. On 5/9/2004, the Claimant said he received his dismissal letter signed by the 2nd Defendant from one Mr. Chimezie Enyidede. The Claimant further testified that he was never invited to appear before any Disciplinary Committee nor was a Disciplinary Committee set up before the order of his dismissal was made. The Claimant also said he was not given fair hearing before such committee who recommended his dismissal. The 1st Defendant did not comply with the provisions of Senior Staff Condition of service in dismissing him from employment. He was not given opportunity to explain or comment on the report of the internal auditor with regard to the alleged shortfall of N1,335,030.00 of the 1st Defendant’s revenue neither was he ever issued a query before he was suspended. It is also the Claimant’s evidence that the allegation against him was criminal in nature and it ought to have been tried by a court before his dismissal. Two witnesses testified for the Defendants. DW1, who said he works in the Bursary Department of the 1st Defendant as a Deputy Bursar, did not dispute the Claimant’s employment by the 1st Defendant but stated that the Claimant’s employment took effect from 4/2/2009 which is the date the Claimant resumed duty. DW1 testified that the Claimant was provided with facilities to safe guard the monies he collected on behalf of the 1st Defendant and he was under strict instruction to pay all moneys into 1st Defendant’s bank the same day or before close of work following day. The Claimant failed to make accurate lodgments of monies received for the 1st Defendant to the tune of N1,335,030.00. DW1 said in the report made by the Claimant to the Director, Consultancy Unit, he had alleged that Ndidiamaka Iheanyichukwu took N122,000.00 but Ndidiamaka Iheanyichukwu admitted only N99,000.00 during investigation. After the incidence, the Internal Auditor checked the Claimant’s account records and discovered some amount of money to be missing. The Claimant could not account for the total money discovered to be missing. The Claimant was suspended by the Vice Chancellor acting on the report of the Internal Auditor. Thereafter, the 1st Defendant set up a panel to investigate the matter. The panel heard from all those involved, including the Claimant and Ndidiamaka Iheanyichukwu. The Claimant was given opportunity to put across his case and he cross examined all witnesses and called his own witness. The panel’s report was sent to the Vice Chancellor. The Staff Disciplinary Committee considered the proceedings, finding and report of the panel and recommended that the Claimant be dismissed. The Council approved the recommendation and the Claimant was personally served with the dismissal letter on 2/6/2004. The Disciplinary Committee only considers report of investigation panel and determines measures to be taken against the offending staff. DW1, who said that the dismissal letter contained the steps taken before the Claimant was dismissed, also stated that the Defendant did not infringe the rule of fair hearing in the dismissal of the Claimant. According to DW1, the Claimant was informed of the allegations against him, he appeared before the panel of investigation, made representations and he defended himself. The Claimant was also queried for his failure to properly account for the pre-degree funds and he responded to it. The report of the panel of investigation and the Defendant’s complaint to police were admitted in evidence through DW1 and marked Exhibits D1 and D2 respectively. DW2 described himself as a staff of the Bursary department of the 1st Defendant. He said that on 16th June 2004, a letter was given to him by the Consultancy Unit of the 1st Defendant to deliver to the Claimant. DW2 said he was able to meet the claimant at his house on 19th June 2004 and he delivered the letter to the claimant. The claimant told him later that the letter was his dismissal letter. From the reliefs sought by the Claimant and the facts of his case, it appears to me that the Claimant found his case on statutory employment. The Claimant has sought from this court, among others, a declaration that his dismissal from employment of the 1st Defendant is null and void and to order his reinstatement to his employment. These reliefs are the nature of reliefs usually available to a Claimant whose employment is protected by statute. The Claimant’s counsel had made submissions along this line when he argued that in view of the Claimant’s employment letter, the Claimant’s employment is protected by statute. Counsel then cited OKWUSIDI vs. LADOKE AKINTOLA UNIVERSITY (SUPRA) and ALHASSAN vs. A.B.U ZARIA (SUPRA) in support. As a rule, the question whether a contract of employment is governed by statute or not depends on the construction of the contract itself or the relevant statute. In this case, the Claimant pleaded in paragraphs 2 and 4 of his amended statement facts that the 1st Defendant was established by the Federal Universities Decree 1992 which Decree is now an Act and that he was employed by the 1st Defendant in 1998 vide his appointment letter in evidence as Exhibit A. The Claimant’s employment letter, Exhibit A, is dated 22nd December 1998. Paragraph 1 of the letter reads- “The appointment is subject to the provisions of Universities of Agriculture Decree 48 of 1992 and any other statute that may from time to time be made by the Federal University of Agriculture Umudike. It is subject also to any Regulations governing the conditions of service of the senior (HATISS 6-15) staff members as may from time to time be approved by the Governing Council of the University.” On construction of the above quoted content of the Claimant’s employment letter, it is observed that the Claimant’s employment was made subject to the Universities of Agriculture Decree 48 of 1992 and the conditions of service as approved by the Governing Council of the 1st defendant. The Universities of Agriculture Decree 48 of 1992 is now cited as Federal Universities of Agriculture Act, Cap F22, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. I have also examined the provisions of the Decree and I see that it contained provisions for discipline and removal of staff of the 1st Defendant. The provisions of the Decree were saved as existing law in section 315 of the 1999 constitution and were still in force at the time of the claimant’s dismissal in 2004. The Decree having now been passed into an Act of the National Assembly, 2004, I shall refer to it subsequently in this judgment as “the Act”. The Claimant has also pleaded the Senior Staff Condition of service of the 1st Defendant and he tendered a copy of it in evidence as Exhibit J. In paragraph 1.2 of the Exhibit, it contained that the condition of service was issued by Council of the 1st defendant in exercise of the powers conferred upon it in Section 10 (1) of the Decree. That is to say the Condition of service, Exhibit J, is a regulation made pursuant to statute. The condition of service contains terms and conditions of the employment of senior staff of the 1st Defendant. It is settled principle of law that where the terms and conditions of a contract of employment are specifically provided for by statute or regulations made thereunder, it is said to be an employment with statutory flavour or contract protected by statute. See OLANIYAN vs. UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS (1985) 2 NWLR (Pt. 9) 599; BAMGBOYE vs.. UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN (2001) FWLR (Pt. 32) 12; OLORUNTOBA-OJU vs. ABDUL-RAHEEM (2009) All FWLR (Pt. 497) 1 at 42. In view of the provisions of the Act and Exhibit J, I have no doubt whatsoever that the Claimant’s employment is protected by statute. Employment governed by statute can only be terminated in compliance with the procedure laid down in the applicable statute. ADENIYI vs. GOVERNING COUNCIL OF YABA COLLEGE OF TECHNOLOGY (1993) 6 NWLR (Pt. 300) 426. The Claimant’s complaint in this suit is that the Defendants did not comply with the procedure laid down in the senior staff condition of service when he was dismissed. The duty imposed on this court by this allegation of the Claimant is to find out whether the conditions for dismissal of employees of the 1st Defendant were observed before the Claimant was dismissed. In order to discharge this duty, it is necessary that I first examine the procedure applicable for dismissal of staff of the 1st Defendant. I have mentioned earlier that the Federal Universities of Agriculture Act contains provision on the procedure for removal or discipline of staff of the 1st Defendant. Although the Claimant did not base his case on the provisions of the Act, I did find that the Claimant’s employment was protected by the Act up to the time of the Claimant’s dismissal. Being a law, I am entitled to take judicial notice of the Act. As shown in the Claimant’s employment letter, the conditions regulating the Claimant’s employment are contained in both the Act and Exhibit J. Let me now examine their provisions which are relevant to removal of staff of the 1st Defendant from employment. Section 17 (1) of the Act provides: “(1)If it appears to the Council that there are reasons for believing that any person employed as a member of the academic, administrative or professional staff of the University, other than Vice-Chancellor, should be removed from his office or employment on the ground of misconduct or of inability to perform the functions of his office or employment, the Council shall- (a) give notice of those reasons to the person in question; (b) afford him an opportunity of making representations in person on the matter; (c) appoint a Staff Disciplinary Committee, and if the Council, after considering the report of the Staff Disciplinary Committee, is satisfied that the person in question should be removed as aforesaid, the Council may so remove him by an instrument in writing signed on the directions of the Council.” In addition to the above provision, Section 18 of the Act set out the Procedures for staff discipline as follows: “(1)The Vice-Chancellor or Senate shall constitute an Investigation Panel to determine whether or not a prima facie case has been established against any member of staff. (2)The Investigation Panel shall include the President or the chairman of the union to which the staff being investigated belongs. (3)The Vice-Chancellor shall constitute a Staff Disciplinary Committee which shall consist of such members of the Senate as he may determine, to consider the report of the Investigating Panel. (4)The report and recommendation of the Staff Disciplinary Committee shall be forwarded to the Council for consideration and decision.” The Senior Staff Condition of Service, Exhibit J contain the following procedure on staff discipline. Paragraph 12.2 at page 65 provides: a)Disciplinary action may be taken against a member of staff for proven cases of misconduct. The following procedure for staff discipline shall apply. (b)The Vice - Chancellor shall constitute a staff investigation panel and a staff disciplinary committee to consider the report of the investigating panel. The report of the disciplinary committee shall be forwarded to council for consideration and decision. (c).The following are the disciplinary measure which may be invoked against an employee: warning, deferment of increment, with-holding of increment, suspension, interdiction, termination, dismissal. Paragraph 12.6 at page 67- (i)If it appears to the Council that there are reasons for believing that any person employed as a member of the academic, administrative or professional staff of the University, other than Vice-Chancellor, should be removed from his office or employment on the ground of misconduct or of inability to perform the functions of his office or employment, the Council shall- (a) Give notice of those reasons to the person in question; (b) Afford him an opportunity of making representations in person on the matter; (c) Appoint a Staff Disciplinary Committee and if the Council, after considering the report of the Staff Disciplinary Committee, is satisfied that the person in question should be removed as aforesaid, the Council may so remove him by an instrument in writing signed on the directions of the Council. The procedure for dismissal of staff of the 1st Defendant as contained in the Act and Exhibit J are similar. The summary of the procedure is that: i.Notice of the allegation or the ground for which the staff is intended to be dismissed must be given to the staff. ii.An Investigation Panel must be constituted to determine whether or not a prima facie case has been established against the staff. iii.Afford the staff an opportunity of making representations before the panel. That is, giving fair hearing. iv.A Staff Disciplinary Committee must be set up to consider the report of the Investigating Panel. v.The report and recommendation of the Staff Disciplinary Committee must be forwarded to the Council for consideration and decision. vi.The decision or the power to remove a staff of the 1st defendant is vested only in the Council and the removal is by an instrument in writing signed on the directions of the Council. From the case of the Claimant, he did say that the Vice Chancellor set up a panel to investigate the matter; the panel invited him twice and he appeared before the panel on both occasions. Then he alleged the following as his complaint against the dismissal: a.The Investigation panel did not inform him of its findings; b.No disciplinary committee was set up nor was he invited before any disciplinary committee before the order of his dismissal was made; c.The recommendation for his dismissal was made a disciplinary Committee but he was not given fair hearing before the committee; d.The allegation against him was criminal in nature and it ought to have been tried by a court before his dismissal. e.His dismissal letter was signed by the 2nd Defendant The Claimant has alleged that no disciplinary committee was set up as required under the condition of service nor was he invited before any disciplinary committee before the order of his dismissal was made. It is on this ground the Claimant also alleged that he was not given fair hearing before the disciplinary committee. It appears to me the Claimant’s reason for asserting that no committee was set up was that he was not invited to face any Disciplinary Committee. To my mind, not having been invited to face any Disciplinary Committee does not suppose that no Disciplinary Committee was set up. By Section 18 (3) of the Act, the duty of the Staff Disciplinary Committee is only to consider the report of the Investigating Panel. Going by this provision, the appearance or invitation of the claimant before the committee is not contemplated. The Claimant’s counsel did argue that the proposition that the staff disciplinary committee does not invite or hear evidence is misconceived, baseless and unfounded. But counsel did not supply any authority to back up his argument. Be that as it may, the provision of Paragraph 12.2 (b) is clear as to the duty of the Disciplinary Committee. It provides that “The Vice - Chancellor shall constitute … a staff disciplinary committee to consider the report of the investigating panel”. Section 18 (3) of the Act also provide that “The Vice-Chancellor shall constitute a Staff Disciplinary Committee … to consider the report of the Investigating Panel”. In my view, the Committee is not under any statutory duty to invite the claimant or hear from the claimant. This may explain why the claimant is in the dark as to whether a Disciplinary Committee was set up. But the provisions of the Act and the condition of service require that a Disciplinary Committee must be set up in a disciplinary case and the decision of Council must be based on the report and recommendation of the Staff Disciplinary Committee. The question at this point is: was there a Disciplinary Committee set up in the Claimant’s dismissal? The answer to this question can only be to the knowledge of the Defendants. The Claimant has already said none was set up. The burden to prove that one was set up now shifts to the Defendants. The Defendants have pleaded in paragraphs 27 and 28 of the statement of defence that a disciplinary committee was set up and the committee considered the report of investigation panel and recommended that the Claimant be dismissed. DW1 also gave evidence to this effect. Now, the Act provided that the report and recommendation of the Staff Disciplinary Committee shall be forwarded to the Council for consideration and decision. That is to say it is the report and recommendation emanating from the Disciplinary committee that the council considers before taking a decision on staff dismissal. Necessarily, the evidence of the existence of such a committee is the report and recommendation from the committee to Council. Is there such evidence before this court? The Defendants asserted that the Claimant’s dismissal was taken based on the Disciplinary Committee’s recommendation but the Defendants failed to tender the said recommendation or report of the Committee in evidence. The only report brought by the Defendants before this court is the report of the investigation panel. I am left to wonder how the report of the panel can be available to the Defendants but not the report of the committee if one was set up. The procedure prescribed in Sections 17 and 18 of the Act are sacrosanct. There must be a Disciplinary Committee to consider the report of the panel and the Committee must send a report and recommendation to Council. The report and recommendation of the committee is a requirement of the law. If the Defendants’ contention is that there was a Disciplinary Committee, where is the report or recommendation of the Committee? None was shown to this court. The Defendant also failed to give any particulars of the Disciplinary Committee. The Defendants have not told this court who the members of the Committee were nor where and when the Committee proceedings took place. In addition to this defect, DW1 blundered when he contradicted himself under cross examination. DW1 stated that Council decided to dismiss the Claimant after reading the report of the panel and that it is the same panel referred to in article 12.2 (b) of Exhibit J. To DW1, the report which was considered by Council was the one from the panel because the panel and Committee are the same and one body. This evidence of DW1 under cross examination lends credence to the fact that disciplinary committee as a separate body was not set up. It is therefore difficult to put any credibility to the defendants’ assertion that a Disciplinary Committee was set up or that the decision of the 1st Defendant’s Council was based on a report and recommendation of a Disciplinary Committee. In my view, the Defendants have not satisfied this court that the process of the Claimant’s dismissal included a Disciplinary Committee. Another grouse of the claimant about his dismissal is that he was not given fair hearing before the Disciplinary Committee. Even though I cannot find in this case that a disciplinary committee was set up, by the provisions of the Act and Exhibit J, the Claimant is not entitled to be heard before such a Disciplinary Committee. From the facts of this case, the only body in the disciplinary process which is to hear the case is the investigation panel. Section 18 (1) of the Act require the constitution of an Investigation Panel to determine whether or not a prima facie case has been established against the staff facing disciplinary action. The Disciplinary Committee itself is to rely on the report of the investigation panel in making recommendation to Council. The focus on whether the Claimant was given fair hearing before he was dismissed should be on the proceedings of the investigation panel. Section 17 (1) a) and b) of the Act provide that notice of the allegation or the ground for which the staff is intended to be dismissed must be given to the staff and the staff must be given an opportunity of making representations in person on the matter. See also Paragraph 12.6 (i) a) and b) of Exhibit J. Was the Claimant afforded this opportunity before he was dismissed? In his evidence, the Claimant stated that following the discovery of missing money, he was suspended vide Exhibit D and later invited to face investigation panel set up to investigate the matter. He was invited before the panel on two occasions through Exhibits G and H. He appeared before the panel on both occasions. The Claimant also said Ndidiamaka Iheanyichukwu also appeared before the panel on 4/12/2003 and admitted she tampered with the file cabinet. Under cross examination, the Claimant told this court that he appeared before investigation panel and he submitted a report to the panel. He also said he was allowed to call witnesses and he called the people in his office who appeared before the panel and were questioned. I must observe that the Claimant’s dismissal, as shown in the dismissal letter, was on the ground that there was a shortfall of the sum of N1,335,030.00 of the 1st Defendant’s revenue in the possession of the Claimant from the 2002/2003 pre-degree program and poultry sales. This allegation was also the reason for the Claimant’s suspension on 7th August 2003 vide Exhibit D. The suspension letter further informed the Claimant that a panel of investigation shall be set up to investigate the matter. Exhibit G is the letter of invitation dated 10/11/2003 from the panel to the Claimant inviting him to appear before the panel on 12/11/2003. It was indicated in the letter that the panel is in respect of pre-degree funds 2003 and the Claimant was required to submit a report and necessary documents on the matter. DW1 for the Defendants testified that the panel heard from all those involved, including the Claimant. The Claimant was given opportunity to put across his case and he cross examined all witnesses and called his own witness. DW1 said the Defendants did not infringe the rule of fair hearing because the Claimant was informed of the allegations against him, he appeared before the panel of investigation, made representations and he defended himself. To establish these assertions, the Defendants put the report of the panel of investigation in evidence. The report is Exhibit D1. I find from the content of the report that the Claimant was invited to the panel, he appeared before the panel twice, he answered questions put to him, and he explained himself and submitted documents. From the evidence and the content of the report, I am satisfied that the Claimant had notice of the allegation for which he was dismissed and he was given opportunity of defending himself. The Claimant was given sufficient fair hearing before the panel. Also, the Claimant’s allegation that he was not given the panels’ report or informed of the panel’s findings is not of any serous import on the validity of the panel’s proceedings. The Claimant has also alleged in paragraph 39 of the statement of facts that the allegation for which he was dismissed was criminal in nature and he ought to have been tried by a court before his dismissal. The Claimant also stated this fact in his evidence. In the Claimant’s dismissal letter, Exhibit I, the Claimant was specifically dismissed for “embezzlement”. By the provisions of the Act and the Condition of service, the grounds for which staff of the 1st Defendant may be dismissed are misconduct or inability to discharge the functions of his employment. The question therefore is: Does embezzlement amount to misconduct under the 1st Defendant’s condition of service? In paragraph 1.6 of Exhibit J, the conducts which constitute misconduct in the employment of the 1st Defendant were listed. It does not include embezzlement. Where a staff of the 1st Defendant commits an act which constitute misconduct under the 1st Defendant’s condition of service, such a staff can be subjected to the internal disciplinary procedure for misconduct and any of the disciplinary measure in paragraph 12.2 (c) of Exhibit J may be applied. It includes dismissal. It is not stated in the dismissal letter that the Claimant was dismissed for “misconduct” as to enable the term to be extended to include embezzlement. As it is in this case, the allegation of embezzlement for which the Claimant was dismissed is not expressly stated to be misconduct in the condition of service. The allegation is however a criminal allegation or offence. In that case, particularly that the Claimant’s employment is protected by statute, the 1st Defendant could not have validly dismissed the Claimant without first subjecting the Claimant to a trial for the offence before a court of competent Jurisdiction and his guilt determined. It is when the Claimant is convicted that he can be dismissed under paragraph 12.9 (iv) of Exhibit J which provide: "Upon conviction of an employee on a criminal charge he shall be dismissed with effect from the date on which he was convicted". In the result, since the allegation of embezzlement for which the Claimant was dismissed, a criminal allegation in itself, does not fall under misconducts in the 1st defendant’s condition of service, it is my view that the 1st Defendant ought to have allowed the Claimant’s guilt be determined by a competent court before dismissing him. See INSTITUTE OF HEALTH AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL MANAGEMENT BOARD vs. ANYIP (2011) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1260) 1 at 16. What the Defendants did in this case is to report the allegation to the police only after the claimant had been dismissed. It was not even shown whether a criminal charge was thereafter brought against the Claimant or not. A very fundamental complaint of the Claimant against his dismissal is that the letter of dismissal was signed by the 2nd Defendant. In his written address, the claimant’s counsel submitted that the 2nd Defendant did not sign the dismissal letter on the instruction of the 1st Defendant’s Council. Section 17 (1) c) of the Act provide that the instrument of removal must be in writing and signed on the directions of the Council. This same provision is contained in paragraph 12.6 (1) C of the condition of Service; Exhibit J. The question here is whether the dismissal letter was signed on the direction of Council? To resolve this question, there is need to examine the content of the letter. The Claimant’s dismissal letter, which is in evidence as Exhibit I, reads- 2nd June 2004 Mr Onyemachi Okwudiri Odi, University Consultancy Services, MOUAU. DISMISSAL You may recall that the receipts and bank lodgments of pre-degree funds for 2001/2002 and 2002/2003 sessions were some time ago reviewed. The scope of investigation extended to other sources of revenue in the consultancy unit. The following findings were made: 1)YEAR 2001/2002 for the year 2001/2002, proper accounting records for sales of forms and tuition fees were not kept. from the available records, N5,563,100 (Five Million, Five Hundred and Sixty-Three Thousand, One Hundred Naira) were collected and paid to the university cashier by you. 2)YEAR 2002/2003 The summary of cash collected by you were as follows: i.pre-degree Programme - 6,701,500 ii.poultry Sales - 894,800 Total cash collected - 7,596,300 Cash Lodgement - 6,261,270 Shortfall - 1,335,030 All cash takings were narrowed to their individual receipts issued to the students for pre-degree programme and customers for poultry sales. From the available records, there was shortfall of N1,335,030 (One Million, Three Hundred and Thirty-Five Thousand and Thirty Naira). Since you were responsible for collecting and paying same to the University Cashier, the Vice –Chancellor therefore, directed that you should be suspended to allow further investigation on the matter as per the Senior Staff Conditions of Service Chapter 12 item 12.6(c) “Appoint a staff Disciplinary Committee and if the Council, after considering the report of the Staff Committee, is satisfied that the staff in question should be removed as aforesaid, the Council may so remove him by an instrument in writing signed on the directives of the Council”. At its 31st statutory meeting held on 6th May, 2004, the University Governing Council received reports of the University investigation panel and the recommendations of the University Staff Disciplinary Committee which reaffirmed the findings of the Internal Auditor confirming a shortfall of N1,335,030 (One Million, Three Hundred and Thirty Five Thousand and Thirty Naira). Based on the report, the Governing Council approved you should be dismissed for embezzlement. You are therefore by this letter, dismissed from the services of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike with effect from 6th May, 2004. You are to hand over all the University property and functions under your care to the Director, University Consultancy Services Unit. For your information, the matter has been reported to the Abia State Commissioner of Police. Signed: J.N. Uche (Mrs.) Registrar. First of all, the aspect of the letter about the Claimant’s dismissal is where it is stated in the 3rd paragraph at page 2 that “the Governing Council approved you should be dismissed for embezzlement”. By this statement, can it be said that the claimant’s dismissal was done by Council? I think not. Council only “approved” the dismissal but did not order or direct the Claimant’s dismissal. Who then dismissed the Claimant? The dismissal letter was signed by the 2nd Defendant but there is no where it was indicted she wrote the letter on the instruction or direction of Council. In fact, she wrote in the 4th paragraph at page 2 of the letter that “You are therefore by this letter, dismissed from the services of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike…” It is obvious from this statement that the Claimant’s dismissal was done by the 2nd Defendant. Although the letter contain that the Governing Council approved the Claimant’s dismissal, the letter did not say the 2nd Defendant was directed by Council to write the letter on behalf of the Council. In the absence of such directive from Council, the dismissal letter becomes the personal act of the 2nd Defendant. I have also considered the Defendants’ case but I cannot find any where they stated that the 2nd Defendant was directed or instructed by the Council to write the dismissal letter to the Claimant. I find that the dismissal letter, signed by the 2nd Defendant, was not so signed on the direction of the 1st Defendant’s Council. By Section 17 of the Act, the Claimant can be removed only by the Council and the letter of removal must be signed on the direction of Council. Only the appropriate person given the power to discipline a member of staff must be the one to exercise such power. Any other manner of exercising the power is invalid. Therefore, the dismissal letter issued in contravention of the law renders the dismissal letter void. It was held in BAMGBOYE vs. UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN (SUPRA) at 53-54 that any instrument issued by the registrar under Section 15 of the University of Ilorin Act, which section is in pari material with Section 17 of the Federal Universities of Agriculture Act, without the direction of the council is invalid and not binding on the Council. The same issue came before the Court of Appeal in OKWUSIDI vs. LADOKE AKINTOLA UNIVERSITY (2012) All FWLR (Pt. 632) 1774 and the Court made the following pronouncement on the issue at page 1797- "The above copied letter of termination of appellant's employment was not shown to have been signed by the registrar of respondent University on behalf of the governing council of the respondent University. By section 17(2)(1) of the respondent University Edict (now law) No.1 of 1990, either the governing council or a person directed by the governing council would be competent to write and sign a letter terminating the appointment of a confirmed staff in the category of appellant before the termination would be valid. The registrar of respondent University, having not shown in the letter terminating appellant's employment that he was so directed by the respondent University Governing Council, the said registrar acted ultra vires and the court below exercising its supervisory jurisdiction should have issued a certiorari order quashing the offending letter on ground of lack of jurisdiction of the registrar to issue it" The claimant’s dismissal letter is null and void having not been issued as required by law. In the face of these irregularities and non compliances by the defendants with statutory provisions and conditions of service governing the claimant’s employment in the dismissal of the claimant from service, I do not think it is necessary to waste further time on this matter. It is now settled that an employment which has statutory flavour can only be terminated in the manner specified in the relevant statute and where it was not so terminated, the termination will be voided. In OLORUNTOBA-OJU vs. ABDUL-RAHEEM (supra) at 46 to 47, the Supreme Court held- “When an office or employment has a statutory flavour in the sense that its condition of service are provided for by the statute or regulations made there under, any person in that office or employment enjoy a special status over and above the ordinary master and servant relationship. In the matter of discipline of such an employee, the procedure laid down by such statute must be fully complied with. If not, any decision affecting the right or reputation or tenure of office of that employee will be declared null and void … Where contract of service enjoys statutory protection, the latter can only be terminated in the manner prescribed by the governing statutory provisions, a breach of which renders the act ultra vires and void.” I find that the dismissal of the Claimant did not follow the procedure for dismissal as laid down in the Act and Exhibit J. The result is that both the letter dismissing the Claimant and the dismissal itself are null and void. The dismissal of the Claimant is hereby set aside. The Claimant sought some principal reliefs and some alternative reliefs for the sum of N50,000,000 as special and general damages for wrongful dismissal from employment. In the principal reliefs’ (b) and (c), the Claimant seeks this court to declare that his employment still subsists and an order reinstating him to his employment. Naturally, these are the remedies that follow a nullification of a dismissal from employment. Where there is an unlawful removal of an employee from an employment protected by statute, the consequence is that the employee has not been removed from office. The employment is viewed as not having been terminated at all. In a situation as this, there is nothing legally standing in the way of the claimant from having his job back with its attendant rights, benefits and privileges. See KWARA POLYTECHNIC ILORIN vs. OYEBANJI (2008) All FWLR (Pt. 447) 141 at 199; OLANIYAN vs. UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS (supra). In the circumstance of this case where it is found that the contract of employment is guided by statute, the Claimant is entitled to a consequential relief of reinstatement and payment of his outstanding salary from the time his employment was unlawfully terminated. See OMIDIORA vs. FEDERAL CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION (2008) All FWLR (Pt. 415) 1807. In the final analysis of this judgment, I resolve the issue formulated in this judgment in favour of the Claimant. He is entitled to his principal claims as per reliefs (a), (b) and (c). Relief (d) is however refused for the reason that it has the effect of perpetually preventing the 1st Defendant from exercising its statutory disciplinary power over the Claimant. Specifically, this court hereby pronounces as follows- a.A Declaration is made to the effect that the dismissal of the Claimant vide the letter dated 2nd June 2004 is unlawful, null and void as it was done in violation of the statute and regulation guiding the Claimant’s contract of employment with the 2nd Defendant. The dismissal letter is set aside. b.An order is hereby made re-instating the Claimant to his employment forthwith and to be placed on the level and position he ought to be presently in the employment of the 1st Defendant had his employment not been unlawfully tampered with. c.The 1st Defendant is also ordered to pay to the Claimant all his outstanding salaries, allowances and other emoluments accruing to him from the date of the unlawful dismissal till the date of this judgment. I award the cost of N200,000.00 to the Claimant against the Defendants.
Judgment is entered accordingly.
Hon. Justice O. Y. Anuwe Judge