The Presiding Judge, Enugu Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Oluwakayode Arowosegbe has set aside the purported redeployment of Mr. Francis Igboeli to Enugu State Government by the Federal College Of Education Eha-Amufu in 1994; ordered Mr. Francis's reinstatement from 6th June 1994 to 14th August 2019 with payment of salaries.
Justice Arowosegbe also directed that Mr. Francis Igboeli be issued with a retirement letter and his retirement benefits be calculated and treated in accordance with the extant Pension Reform Act with the sum of N300Thousand [Three Hundred Thousand Naira] cost of action, within 60 days.
The Court held that no evidence from the defence to show that, there was any concordance between the FGN and the Enugu State Government for swapping of staff of the college upon being taken over, that the conduct of the Ministry of Education and the College apart from being a breach of contract, was unfair in the extreme.
The court held that Mr. Francis Igboeli is only entitled to be reinstated to service from 6th June 1994 to 14th August 2019, when he is deemed to have retired and; therefore, no longer entitled to be reinstated to the service till this year.
From facts, the claimant- Mr. Francis Igboeli had pleaded that the Federal Government of Nigeria took over the College on 1st January 1986 including the assets and liabilities, which included all the staff amongst whom he was one.
He further pleaded that, when staff were asked on 19th August 1986, to choose between being with the College or the Enugu State, he chose to remain with the College and further that the recommendation of his redeployment to the Enugu State Government upon the absorption exercise conducted by the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Commission for Colleges of Education [NCCE], ultra vires their powers.
Mr. Francis Igboeli pleaded further that Enugu State Government refused to absorb him because no contractual relationship between them and he accordingly wrote to inform the College about the development, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
However, the Court struck out the Notice of Preliminary Objection filed by the Federal Ministry of Education for lacking merit.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Oluwakayode Arowosegbe endorsed the argument of Mr. Francis’s counsel that the Minister cannot direct the redeployment of the claimant or staff of the College, as sound and without blemish.
Justice Arowosegbe held that the conduct of the defendants with regard to the termination or retrenchment of Mr. Francis Igboeli, cloaked as redeployment, without any ground is totally unfair, unwarranted, and contrary to the best practices of labour relations around the world.
The Court maintained that Mr. Francis Igboeli who pleaded and gave evidence that, he had been redeployed to Enugu State and had been rejected, had a right without more, to bring the action for breach of contract; and if found proved, he is entitled to reliefs to right the wrong.
Justice Arowosegbe declared that the failure to adopt the principle of “first-in-last-out” in the purported redeployment exercise was a violation of the provisions of the Labour Act.
Visit the judgment portal for full details