The Presiding Judge, Yola Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Sanusi Kado has nullified the dismissal of Abdullahi Sa’adu from the Modibbo Adama University of Technology, ordered immediate reinstatement.
The Court held that the purported dismissal of Abdulahi’s based on the report of the committee on academic staff abscondment was in breach of the doctrine of natural justice, refused Abdulahi claim for salary and other entitlements from June 2012 till date due to lack of proof of resumption of duty after the expiration of his study leave.
From facts, the claimant – Abdulahi Saidu had submitted that he was employed by the University in 2007, and thereafter applied for study leave, that he was unable to submit a progress report of his program to his employer due to circumstances beyond his control and he intimated his Head of Department.
In addition, he said he got a query on the status of his study leave, the same day his salary was stopped which he replied.
He testified that he never stopped coming to work, that he returned from studies around 2010 and wrote to the University about his return but the letter was rejected by the Registrar’s office as there was no certificate attached to the letter and the registrar did not ask him to go back until he brings a certificate.
Further that in response to his letter, he was served with a letter of dismissal from service dated 31st July 2018 based on the report of the committee that he had violated study fellowship regulations and the University conditions of service.
Abdullahi's Counsel, Mohammed Abubakar, Esq argued that the dismissal of Abdulahi based on the report of the Committee on Academic Staff Abscondment not disciplinary panel is a breach of the right to a fair hearing urged the Court to grant the reliefs sought in the interest of justice.
In defence, the University on its part insisted that Abdulahi was accorded fair hearing because he was queried and appeared before the academic committee on abscondment and the committee found him culpable and recommended his dismissal and the university management approved the dismissal with effect from 21/6/2012 and not 19/6/2018 as stated in the letter of dismissal, urged the court to dismiss the entire claim of the claimant but grant the reliefs sought in the counterclaim.
Delivering the Judgment after careful perusal of the submissions of both counsel, the Presiding Judge, Justice Sanusi Kado held that university cannot be faulted for stoppage of payment of Abdulahi salary for being absent from work or refusal to return after expiration of the period of study leave granted to him, and has also not adduced any evidence of his salary and the other entitlement.
However, the Court further held that Abdulahi never faced any disciplinary panel set up by the council who has the power under the Act to do so and no evidence that council set up a disciplinary committee to investigate Abdulahi on the allegation of refusal to resume duty after the expiration of the period of fellowship that the dismissal of the Abdulahi did not follow the provisions of the University Act, declared same as void and unconstitutional.
Lastly, the court dismissed the University's counterclaims for lacking merit.