Court orders Covenant University to pay ex-staff N10.3m as damages, terminal benefit

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The National Industrial Court on Thursday ordered Covenant University, Ota to pay its former staff Dr. Adekunle Oyeyemi the sum of N10.3 million as general damages, terminal benefit, and salary.

The judge, Justice Ayodele Obaseki-Osaghae, delivering judgment also declared that the employment termination of the claimant’s employment was wrongful and in breach of the contract of his employment.

The court ordered the payment of N8.2 million being the equivalent of his 24 months salary as general damages.;

The sum of N1.7 million was ordered as terminal benefits and N344,635 being salary in lieu of notice, to be paid within 30 days.

The judge held that the University unilateral review of the claimant’s employment conversion to Senior Lecturer was wrongful.

The court stated that the action was unsolicited and was designed to make the workplace intolerable for him and force his exit.

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Obaseki-Osaghae stated that there was no wrongdoing established before the court that necessitated the termination of the claimant’s appointment with immediate effect.

“The words with ‘immediate effect’ have the effect of stigmatization.

“The termination of the claimant’s employment is wrongful and not in accordance with international best practices.” the judge ruled.

From facts, the claimant, submitted that he was employed as a full-time Director of the University’s Counseling Centre from Oct.1, 2007, to Nov.15, 2016, when his appointment was terminated without any misconduct.

In addition, he stated that he sent an internal memo to the Secretary of the University Board to state his position against the Board’s resolution on the issue of tenure of Principal Officers and Directors.

He further said that he got a reply letter informing him that his tenure as the Director of the Centre had come to an end and he was being redeployed to the Department of Psychology as a Senior Lecturer, which was against his terms of employment.

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The claimant’s counsel, Funmi Falana, submitted that the termination of her client’s employment was done contrary to the institution’s law .

She therefore sought for an order of reinstatement amongst other reliefs.

The defendant, on its part submitted that the claimant was invited to a roundtable discussion when his service was no longer required in its counseling centre.

The University also stated that when the claimant was informed of its decision to transfer him as a Senior Lecturer on contract, he consented to the arrangement.

The University stated that it decided to retain the claimant as a Senior Lecturer on contract as a kind gesture as he was over 60 years as at the time and was due for retirement.

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By Kalu Odinakachi

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