The Presiding Judge, Calabar Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Sanusi Kado has declared the dismissal of Mr. Dennis Otum from the service of the Cross River State Institute of Technology and Management on 4th August 2017 as unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever for having been done in contravention of the law and breach of the doctrine of natural justice.
The Court ordered the Cross River State Institute of Technology and Management to immediately reinstate Mr. Dennis Otum back to his job with all his entitlements, rights and privileges and payment of salaries from 4th August 2017 to date and subsequently until proper determination of his employment.
Justice Kado further ordered the Cross River State Institute of Technology and Management to pay the sum of N54,999.74 (Fifty-Four Thousand Nine Hundred and Ninety Naira) into Mr. Dennis Otum’s pension savings account with Stanbic IBTC Pension Funds Administrator, being deductions and contribution from January to July 2017 with the sum of N500k cost of action.
The Court held that Mr. Dennis Otum whose employment is invested with statutory flavour must be dealt with in accordance with the law and a public officer against whom an allegation of gross misconduct is laid cannot be removed without being heard.
From facts, the claimant- Mr. Dennis Otum had submitted that prior to his dismissal he was never suspended, queried or issued with a warning letter. He was never charged for misconduct or appeared before disciplinary committee of the Institute and the Registrar that signed the letter of dismissal does not have the vires to do so, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
In defense, Cross River State Institute of Technology and Management stated that Mr. Dennis in truth absented himself from duty without lawful excuse for 60 working and the letter of dismissal was issued in error as the institution has not decided on the case of Mr. Dennis.
However, the 2nd to 5th defendants- Cross River State Government, The Governor of Cross River State and 2 others did not deem it fit and necessary to defend Mr. Dennis’s claim despite being represented by counsel.
Mr. Dennis urged the court to direct the Cross River State Institute of Technology to forthwith reinstate and restore him to his position of Assistant Chief Clerical Officer taking into consideration all promotions and advancements due to him.
In a well-considered judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Sanusi Kado held that the failure of the Cross River State Government, The Governor of Cross River State and 2 others to file defence does not translate to automatic judgment for Mr. Dennis that the law requires him to meet up with minimal proof to be entitled to judgment.
The Court ruled that if disciplinary action is to be taken pursuant to any statute, law or rule, there must be strict compliance as required before such disciplinary action can be justified.
Justice Kado held that Cross River State Institute of Technology and Management’s failure to religiously follow the provisions of the Cross River State Institute of Technology and Management Law 2012, has rendered the dismissal of Mr. Dennis illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
The Court further ruled that the provisions of section 23 of the Cross River State Institute of Technology and Management Law 2012 did not recognized Registrar as appropriate person to sign letter of dismissal, it also did not recognized management as approving or authorising authority for dismissal of an employee.