Akure – Hon. Justice O. O. Oyewumi of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, sitting in Akure, Ondo State on Thursday 13th December 2018 in a judgment ordered AMBROSE ALLI UNIVERSITY, EKPOMA (defendant) to pay retired Bursar PIUS .E. UFUAH (claimant) the sum of N900,000 as Communication allowance from the period of November, 2011 to July, 2015, the sum of N300,000 wardrobe allowance from the period of 2012 to 2015 and the sum N28, 509,760.00 for gratuity and pension.
The claimant was the Bursar of the 2nd defendant until November 15, 2011 when he was suspended from office through a letter dated November 15, 2011 without any rational reason. The claimant challenged the constitutionality and legality of the said suspension and judgment was delivered on the 28th of March, 2014 in his favour.
He later applied for the issuance and service of Form 48 on the Principal Officers’ of the defendants, recalled from suspension by a letter of 24th July 2015. That although he was recalled, the defendants equally refused to pay his gratuity in the sum of N28,509,760.00, that upon the refusal of the defendants to pay his full financial entitlements in the sum of N34,398,589.00, he instructed his counsel to write a letter dated 19th October 2015 to the defendants in that regard. That the failure of the defendants to respond to the letter or meet his demand necessitated the institution of this suit.
The claimant finally stated that he indicated his intention to retire from the service of the defendants with effect from the 24th July 2015, the notice which the defendants reacted to vide a letter dated 24th August 2015.
Therefore the claimant claimed against the defendants among others; N34,398,589.00 being the outstanding balance of the arrears of allowances and other entitlements due to the claimant as Bursar of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma from 1st November 2011 till 24th July 2015. A Declaration that the defendants by their failure and/or refusal to obey the judgment of this Honourable Court delivered in Suit No. NICN/AK/57/2012 on the 28th March 2014 frustrated the claimant's retirement from service of the defendants as Bursar with effect from the 31st December 2014.
Likewise, An Order directing the defendants to pay the claimant's pension and gratuity as retired Bursar of the 2nd defendant with effect from the 24th July 2015.
It is the response of the defendants that they have paid the full financial entitlement for the period the claimant was on suspension to him upon his recall to office, that he is not entitled to N28,509,760.00 as gratuity neither was he entitled to a Toyota Corolla car or any other car as retirement benefit.
They further averred that upon receipt of financial allocation from the Edo State Government for payment of gratuity, payment will be made serially as there is backlog of retired staff waiting to be paid. It was stated that the claimant did not retire from the 2nd defendant at the end of his tenure as Bursar and that his position reverted back to deputy Bursar based on the 2nd defendant's regulations.
That the Court is functus officio in regard to the claimant's claims, also that the Court lacks jurisdiction to re-litigate same as the claims have been decided by this Court in Suit No. NICN/AK/57/2012.
On the whole, defendants submitted that the entire claims of the claimant must fail for his failure to tender in evidence his letter of appointment as Bursar and scheme governing the service of Senior Staff as approved on October 26, 2010 urged the Court to dismiss this case for lacking in merit.
Claimant counsel posited that the defendants' contention that his full entitlements upon his recall from suspension have been paid to him, ought to be discountenanced as they failed to discharge the legal burden on them since a party who affirms the positive has the burden to prove same.
Consequently, he urged the Court to hold that his retirement as Bursar of the 2nd defendant is with effect from 24th July 2015, being the date the defendants complied with the judgment of the Court of 3rd March 2014. Also, that the defendants ought to show a contrary figure of claimant's gratuity.
After careful analysis of all the processes filed, the evidence led and the submissions of the learned Counsel from both sides. The Court presided by Hon. Justice O. O. Oyewumi expressed thus;
“It is germane to state also that the claimant’s claims are within the exclusive jurisdiction of this Court to entertain as per Section 254C (1)(k) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. It is thus on this premise that I find that this Court is not funtus officio and discountenance the argument of the defendants in this regards.
“It is obvious on record that the claimant did not retire as an Acting Bursar, but I find in the circumstances of this case that the claimant retired as the Bursar of the university on the 24th July 2015, the date he was reinstated back to his position as Bursar of the University.
“It is therefore on this basis that I find and hold that the failure of the claimant to adduce real/cogent evidence to show the fact that the defendants are indebted to him in the sum of N4,516,995.00 Salaries and allowances from (January 2015 – Jul 2015) goes to no issue and thus fail."
The court declared that the claimant is entitled to the sum of N900,000 as Communication allowance from the period of November 2011 to July 2015, sum of N300,000 as his wardrobe allowance from the period of 2012 to 2015 and the sum N28, 509,760.00 for gratuity and pension.
His Lordship ordered all judgment sum to be paid within two months, failing which it shall attract an annual interest of 10% of the total judgment sum.