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The court has exclusive jurisdiction in civil causes and matters relating to or connected with any labour, employment, trade unions, industrial relations and matters arising from workplace, the conditions of service, including health, safety, welfare of labour, employee, worker and matter incidental thereto or connected therewith.

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Industrial Court dismisses N4m entitlement claim against Nnamdi Azikiwe University


309 Thursday 16th June 2022

The Presiding Judge, Awka Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has dismissed the case filed by Professor Ezekwe Nkemfulu against Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka on an alleged entitlement claim for lack of proof.


The Court held that Professor Ezekwe did not plead nor tender her pay slips to reflect her salary, the University regulations, or terms and conditions of her contract appointment.  


Justice Targema further held that Professor Ezekwe cannot rely on the Computation of shortfalls using pay profile and salary table data as proof of entitlement to the said N4,010,026.01 claim.


From facts, the claimant- Professor Ezekwe Nkemfulu had submitted that upon her retirement, Nnamdi Azikiwe University engaged her for another five years on a contract basis renewable yearly; that in the course of her service, she was owed an accrued salary arrears shortfall to the tune of N4, 010, 026.01 and every effort through series of correspondence to make the defendant pay proved abortive.


She further alleged that the penultimate renewal of her contract appointment was erroneously changed to Adjunct Professor instead of Contract Professor, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.


The defendant admitted that it gave Professor Ezekwe one year contract appointment as a Senior Lecturer and such appointments may be renewed every year for a maximum period of four years; while the third renewal was approved as an adjunct appointment, and upon the plea of the claimant, the defendant approved her fourth application as a Contract appointment.


The defendant maintained that Professor Ezekwe, having worked as an adjunct Professor in the penultimate renewal, cannot claim accrued salary arrears as a contract Professor in respect of the said penultimate year, that the exhibit tendered by the claimant are photocopies of originals which are not certified and non-certification of these public documents renders them inadmissible and same cannot be used by the Court.


The University averred that the figures used by Professor Ezekwe in the Computation of Shortfalls using Pay Profile and Salary Table Data were manufactured by the claimant and has no nexus whatsoever with what the claimant was entitled to during her period of the contract and adjunct appointments; urged the Court to dismiss the claim in its entirety with substantial cost as being frivolous, incompetent, lacking in merit and a gold-digging exercise.


In reply, Prof. Ezekwe's counsel averred that the exhibits in issue are correspondence between his client and the University had nothing to do with the public, and does not require certification to be admitted in evidence.


Counsel further averred that the attainment of the post of professorship goes with all the privileges in the University from the time of conferment to death because professors are paid their full entitlement even on retirement; that the defendant paid the claimant her full salary in January and February 2021.


Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice John Targema held that the exhibits in issue tendered by Professor Ezekwe cannot be said to be public documents and are relevant to the case at hand, discountenanced argument against its admissibility.


Justice Targema further held that Professor Ezekwe has not pleaded and proved the allegation of fraud and the entitlements prayed for by the memo to Vice-Chancellor without particularization of the sums accruable or the instrument that grants same, being claims for special damages, are at best speculative and not grantable. 

 

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