By Amgbare Ekaunkumo,Yenagoa
The National Industrial Court sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State yesterday has ordered the reinstatement of seven demoted lecturers of the Federal University, Otuoke in Ogbia local government area of the State.
The Court also awarded to the lecturers the sum of N20million as damages against the Institution.
Presiding Judge, Justice Bashiru Alkali ruled that claimants be reinstated to their full status, privileges and entitlements by the institution.
Justice Alkali ruled that the University pay each claimant 5 million Naira for defamation and two hundred thousand each for cost of litigation.
All the litigants were from the Diaspora who returned to serve in the University.
The litigants are Leonard Shilgba, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Prof. Steve Nwabuzor, Dept of Civil, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, and Dr. Sepribo Lawson-Jack, department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering
Others include , Dr. Obalade Falade, department of Banking and Finance, Dr. Marcellina Offoha, department of Sociology and Anthropology, Dr. Evans Eze, department of Sociology and Anthropology and Dr Felina Nwadike, Dept of English and Communication Studies.
It would be recalled that the some aggrieved lecturers had dragged the Vice Chancellor of the Institution, Professor Seth Accra Jaja and the Institution management to the Industrial Court of Nigeria over his demotion from rank of Professor to Lecturer 1.
The Governing Council of Federal University Otuoke had at its 10th meeting made key decisions involving appointments and discipline which led to the re-classification of some academic appointments by downgrading seven teaching staff appointments to lower ranks for lack of requisite scholarship including Professor Stephen Nwabuzor.
But the aggrieved lecturers in suit filed before the National Industrial Court, numbered NICN/YEN01/2019, sought the order of the Court a declaration that the regularisation of the appointment of his appointment as a Professor to a pensionable appointment by Institution’s letter of the appointment dated September 1, 2015 and the confirmation of his appointment vide the letter of February 21, 2017, the claimant’s appointment has a statutory flavor and cannot be tampered with except in accordance with the Federal University, Otuoke (Establishment) Act 2015.
Also sought is a “declaration that the purported conversion of the claimant’s pensionable appointment to a contract appointment is ultra vires the defendants having regard to the Federal University,Otuoke (Establishment ) Act, 2015, the 1999 constitution (as Amended) and all known Labour practice.
“A declaration that the purported reclassification of appointment of the claimant by the defendant from Professor to Lecturer 1 on the grounds that the claimant did not have the requisite scholarship at the point of entry without hearing the claimant is ultra fire,unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect.
“An order of the honorable Court setting aside the defendants’ letter of 5th of July,2018 converting the claimant statutory appointment to a mere contract of employment”.