Industrial Court Orders Reinstatement of Sacked Poly Lecturer

By Israel Mbam, Abakaliki

Enugu Division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, sitting in Abakliki has again on 12th August, 2022 ordered the reinstatement of Mr. Victor Dorawa Koreyo, a staff of Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic Unwanna Afikpo in Ebonyi State, who was sacked in 2019 over an alleged spread of false information against the school management. Ruling on the case with a suit number NICN/ABK/27/2019, between Victor Dorawa koreyo as the claimant and Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic Unwanna, Rector Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic Unwanna and the Governing Council, Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic Unwanna as defendants, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Oluwakayode Ojo Arowosegbe ruled that the proper procedure and due process of law were not followed in the claimant dismissal.  
He granted most of the reliefs sort by the claimant, ordered for the full payment of his salaries and entailments from the time he was purportedly sacked. The judge also awarded the cost of five hundred thousand naira to be paid by the Defendants to the Claimant.  
According to Justice Oluwakayode Ojo, “I therefore make the earlier order setting aside the dismissal at the pendency of this suit and directing reinstatement, pending the determination of this suit, a final and absolute order against the defendants-contemnors. In view of the above, i find and hold for the second time that, the proper procedure and due process of law were not followed in the claimant’s dismissal. In essence, the claimant doubly succeeds on the tone issue while the defendants lose it. 
“The claimant is therefore entitled to all the reliefs claimed, except relief c), granted only to the extent that, the Committee’s infringement of fair hearing nullified its decision and, the additional relief of reinstatement, being that, his appointment had been unlawfully dismissed during the cause of this action, as found and held earlier on. He is entitled to cost too. This is 2019 case. Considering the depreciation of the Naira,] assess the cost at N500,000 [Five Hundred Thousand Naira] only against the defendants and in favour of the claimant. 

“I refuse to grant any moratorium being that; the defendants are contemnors, who had earlier been ordered to reinstate the claimant till determination of the substantive suit and granted moratorium of one month on the areas of salaries, which they ignored with more contempt. The claimant is entitled to interest on the judgement debts. I grant 20% simple interest rate per annum till the judgment debts are fully paid to him too. The case must drive to a close.” He concluded.  

The reliefs sort by the claimant include A DECLARATION that the claimant has not violated any provision of the Act that established the 1st  Defendant and which regulates the appointment of the Claimant in the 1st Defendant for the 3rd Defendant and/or 2nd Defendant or any organ or officer of the 1st Defendant to threaten and/or to subject him to any disciplinary process. 
A DLELCLARATION that the allegation of dissemination of false information for which the Claimant is being subjected to disciplinary action by the Defendants was not an act purported to be done by the Claimant in the course of his duties as staff of, and in his capacity as a lecturer in the 1st Defendant, but an act allegedly done by a corporate body and for which neither the Claimant nor the corporate body has been given adequate time and facilities for their defence to wit, being confronted with copies of the so-called false information allegedly disseminated. 

A DECLARATION that the Committee set up by the Management of the 1st Defendant to investigate the Claimant was set up in breach of the mandatory provisions of Section 17 of the Federal Polytechnics Act, Cap. F17 LFN, 2004 (as amended) especially Section 17(1) and therefore the activities of the Committee has no force of law, are ultra vires, null and void and of no effect whatsoever. 

AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNC FION restraining the Defendants by themselves, their officers, agents, representatives, successors and/or by whatsoever name called from continuing the disciplinary action in respect of the said allegation(s), or tampering with his, that is, the Claimant's appointment and/or status in the 1st  Defendant, in any manner or means or way whatsoever, including suspension, demotion, termination and dismissal. The Court granted almost all the reliefs above.

In an interview, the Claimant, Mr. Victor Koreyo who is also the Executive Director of an NGO; Abraham Children Foundation thanked God, the Judge and his Lawyer for standing by him and for granting him and his NGO victory in the long legal battle. He advised those who are victimized unjustly to always approach the Court for redress. He also expressed hope that the School Management would adhere to the Court ruling by reinstating him as directed. 

On his part, Counsel to the claimant, Barr Nelson Chukwueze expressed satisfaction with the judgment, stressing that it signified that the claimant was never sacked. He noted that despite challenges faced while the case last, the Court in its ruling has affirmed that his client was never sacked in the first place, and urged the management of Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic Unwanna to comply with judgment without further delay. 

Recall that the National Industrial Court had on 12th November, 2021 ordered that the defendant/respondents to immediately purge themselves of the contempt/disrespect to the earlier Court order of 7th November, 2019, made sequel to the undertaking of the learned counsel  to the defendant/respondents that, the Claimant would not dismissed pending the determination of the suit. The Court also ordered that the claimant should with immediate effect, be reinstated to his position quo ante with all his arrears of salaries paid within one month thereof and thereafter till the determination of the suit.

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