The Presiding Judge, Enugu Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Olukayode Arowosegbe has declared that Professor Mary Nnamani having been duly appointed and successfully served as Acting Provost of the Enugu State College of Education (Technical) is duly entitled to the Entitlements of the office of the Provost.
The Court ordered the Enugu State College of Education to pay Professor Nnamani all her outstanding Entitlements which stand at the sum of Twelve Million, Five Hundred Eighty-Nine Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty-Eight Naira, Forty one Kobo (12,589,258.41) for the period of the four years she meritoriously served and return of Prado Suv Jeep and Toyota Avensis Jeep or in the alternative to pay for the cost of the Cars which is put at N33,500,000.00 within 60 days.
Justice Arowosegbe held that Professor Mary Nnamani as Acting Provost having not been discriminated against in the performance of the duties of substantive provost could not be lawfully discriminated against in the enjoyment of the full benefits of a substantive provost.
Justice Arowosegbe affirmed that Professor Nnamani could not have fully performed all the functions of a substantive provost for a full tenure of four years meant for substantive provost and be denied the benefits of a substantive provost.
From facts, the claimant- Professor Mary Nnamani had submitted that she was appointed Acting Provost of the college in 2015 till 2019 and performed her duties creditably that she was only paid her salaries and Wardrobe/Furniture allowance, but was denied all other terminal benefits to which a provost was entitled to.
In a further submission, she averred to have petitioned the state governor for her terminal benefits with the College to be paid, to which the college asked her to refund the N5Million furniture allowance received.
In defense, the defendant- Enugu State College of Education (Technical) maintained that Professor Nnamani was not entitled to the reliefs claimed because the letter was written to the Governor to confirm the appointment of the claimant, as substantive provost was not honoured.
The erudite counsel argued that Professor Nnamani has overstayed in office and ought not to have exceeded 6 months as Acting Provost and could not be allowed to take advantage of her illegality, urged the Court to dismiss the suit and grant the sum of N5Million claimed.
In opposition, Professor Mary Nnamani learned counsel, opined that his client could only be denied of his benefits if dismissed from service and that there was no difference between Substantive Provost and Acting Provost, and having served for 4 years, is entitled to all the benefits of a provost, more so, that, no provision of the parent law debars such enjoyment.
After painstaking evaluation of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Arowosegbe held that the query of the State Auditor-General that, Professor Mary Nnamani was not supposed to be in office for more than 6 months was meddlesome-interloping on an issue that did not lie within the compass of his office.
The Court held that where the appointer did not specify the period for the acting appointment and, the claimant went to complete a full tenure, equity would deem Professor Mary Nnamani to have been duly confirmed in the appointment as a substantive provost.
Justice Arowosegbe affirmed that Professor Mary Nnamani could not have fully performed all the functions of a substantive provost for a full tenure of four years meant for a substantive provost and be denied the benefits of a substantive provost.
The Court held that such discriminatory construction and enforcement of the benefits to which a substantive provost and AP are entitled, without any reasonable justification, is a classical instance of labour discrimination and unfair labour practice contrary to the 1999 Constitution [as altered].
“If substantive provost after full tenure is entitled to certain benefits, AP, who performed exactly the same functions for a full tenure of four years, must be entitled to the same benefits as acting provost. That is the justice and fairness of the case.
“To allow the defendant to set up this flimsy defence against the claimant is to allow her to hold on to what rightly belongs to the claimant who had performed her own part of the bargain, on a mere trump-up fault of the claimant.” Justice Arowosegbe ruled."
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