His Lordship, Hon. Justice Ayodele Obaseki-Osaghae of the Abuja Judicial division of the National Industrial Court has declared the employment termination of Dr. Adekunle Oyeyemi from Covenant University without any justifiable reason as wrongful and in breach of the contract of employment.
Justice Obaseki-Osaghae ordered Covenant University to pay Dr. Adekunle the sum of N8, 271,240.00 (Eight Million, Two Hundred and Seventy One Thousand, Two Hundred and Forty Naira) being the equivalent of 24 months’ salary as general damages, N1,750,137.42 (One Million, Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand, One Hundred and Thirty-Seven Naira, Forty-Two Kobo) as terminal benefits and the sum of N344,635.00 (Three Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand, Six Hundred and Thirty-Five Naira) being salary in lieu of notice within 30 days.
From facts, the claimant- Dr. Adekunle Oyeyemi had submitted that he was employed as a full time Director of the University Counseling Centre from October 1, 2007, to November 15, 2016, when his appointment was terminated without accusing him of any misconduct.
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 and got a reply letter informing him that his tenure as the Director of the Counselling Centre has come to an end, and redeployed to the Department of Psychology as a Senior Lecturer against his terms of employment.
Learned counsel to Dr. Adekunle, Mrs. Funmi Falana, with A. Gbadamosi, F. Akinyemi submitted that the termination of their client employment was done contrary to the institution law that Dr. Adekunle is entitled to an order of reinstatement and other reliefs sought.
In defense, the defendant- Covenant University submitted that it invited Dr. Adekunle to a round table discussion when his service was no longer required in its counseling centre; and was told to move to the Department of Psychology as a Senior Lecturer on contract and consented.
The University stated that it decided to retain Dr. Adekunle as a Senior Lecturer on a contract because he was over sixty years and due for retirement if he was an academic staff; and that it was a kind gesture it extended to the claimant to become a senior lecturer that Dr. Adekunle’s employment was lawfully terminated as no breach of any fair hearing.
In opposition, Dr. Adekunle denied knowledge of the retirement age for the defendant’s staff, and stated that he was not aware that he had to leave at 60 years, neither was he aware of anyone that was asked to leave at 60 years, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Ayodele Obaseki-Osaghae held that the University unilateral review of Dr. Adekunle’s employment contract to Senior Lecturer (Contract) was unsolicited and designed to make the workplace intolerable to him and to force his exit.
Justice Obaseki-Osaghae stated that there is no wrongdoing established before the court that necessitated the termination of Dr. Adekunle’s appointment with immediate effect after 8 years, 9 months, and 29 days of service.
“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.” Justice Obaseki-Osaghae