Hon. Justice Polycarp Hamman of the Portharcourt Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has declared that Professor Barineme Fakae’s employment with the Rivers State University Nkpolu, PortHarcourt remains valid and subsisting; ordered the University to pay him the sum of N672,529.70 (Six Hundred and Seventy-Two Thousand, Five Hundred and Twenty Nine Naira Seventy Kobo) as monthly salary from November 2015 till date within 30 days.
Justice Polycarp further granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Rivers State University either acting by itself or its servants, agents, or privies, from stopping the payment of Professor Barineme's salary including the arrears and other entitlements accrued to him as an employee of the University.
From facts, the claimant- Professor Barineme Fakae had submitted that by leave of absence granted by his former employer, University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 2007 he was appointed as the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the Rivers State University, confirmed in 2008, and after the expiration of the first term of office of four (4) years, he was re-appointed as the Vice-Chancellor for three (3) years, which elapsed sometime in July 2015.
He averred that his request for approval of transfer of service from the University of Nigeria Nsukka to the Rivers State University dated 2nd May 2014 was approved by the Governing Council as a Professor in the Department of Applied and Environmental Biology in line with the University enabling law.
He added that sequel to his request to proceed on accumulated leave which he could not take due to the exigency of his office as the Vice-Chancellor since 2008, the defendant after calculating his accumulated leave for 240 days (2008 to 2015) refused to approve due to alleged irregularities in his employment.
In defense, the defendant- Rivers State University maintained that the purported employment and/or transfer of service of Prof. Fakae did not comply with the provisions of the University’s Regulations Governing the Conditions of Service and the Registrar of the University acted without powers when she issued the purported letter of appointment to Prof. Fakae.
The University averred that Prof. Fakae has never earned salaries, entitlements, or remunerations as a staff of the institution but as Vice-Chancellor of the University appointed by the Government of Rivers State whose tenure ended on the 31st July 2015, and the University Governing Council did not approve the transfer of service at any meeting, urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.
In opposition, the claimant's counsel, Femi Bobade Esq posited that the offer of appointment of his client and the acceptance of the offer are regular, valid, and subsisting that nothing before the court to show that Prof. Fakae’s appointment was terminated by the Governing Council, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering the judgment after careful evaluation of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Polycarp Hamman held that the transfer of Prof. Fakae’s employment from the University of Nigeria Nsukka to the Rivers State University was based on the mutual agreement of the two institutions and his appointment as a Professor in the Department of Applied and Environmental Biology by the University was based on his application for transfer of service.
Justice Polycarp affirmed that nothing before the court to show that steps were taken to bring any alleged irregularity in Prof. Fakae’s appointment to the attention of the Governing Council, and since the appointment letter issued to Prof. Fakae has not been withdrawn or the appointment terminated, that the employment subsists.
“The Governing Council of the defendant was chaired by one of this country’s most eminent and revered jurists, the Hon. Justice A. G. Karibi-Whyte (JSC), CON, CFR who was the Pro-chancellor and Chairman of the Council of the defendant. To suggest that the claimant as the Vice-Chancellor of the defendant influenced the revered jurist is unfortunate, to say the least.” Justice Polycarp
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