Akure---His Lordship, Hon. Justice Adunola Adewemimo of the National Industrial Court sitting in Akure has declared the refusal of Achievers University to pay her former lecturer Mr. Olayiwola Popoola salaries and entitlement as a breach of the contract of employment between the parties.
The court ordered the institution to pay Mr. Olayiwola a sum of N543,889 for four (4) months arrears of unpaid salaries, N334, 887deducted pension and arrears with N200,000 cost of action within 30 days.
The Claimant sought against the Defendant for A DECLARATION that the claimant is entitled to the sum of N1,306,787.06 being the total of the claimant’s outstanding salaries and pension deductions and entitlement.
Likewise, AN ORDER directing the defendant to pay to the claimant or remit to the claimant’s pension account the sum of N762,897.82 being the claimant’s total pension deductions and entitlement among others.
The Claimant was offered employment as Lecturer on the 11th November 2013 and resigned his appointment with the defendant in January 2017.
He averred further that the defendant was nonchalant towards his welfare by neglecting and/or refusing to pay his salaries and entitlements from October 2016 to January 2017 that he made several demands for his entitlements all to no avail, which prompted him to resign, he later wrote a letter of demand through his solicitor which was also ignored by the defendant.
However, the defendant denied owing the claimant salaries for October 2016 to January 2017. The defendant stated further the deductions made from the salaries of the claimant is known as Staff Contribution to University’s Savings Scheme, counter-claimed that the claimant’s letter of appointment, contains a condition precedent to his withdrawal/resignation of his appointment from the defendant, i.e. a minimum of three (3) months written notice to terminate at the end of an academic session or payment of one-year basic salary in lieu of notice to the defendant that the resigned without notice.
The claimant stated further that the refusal of the Defendant to pay the claimant’s salary as at when due was a breach of the terms of employment and was not aware of any staff contribution to any savings scheme and posited that no law provides that an employee should continue to work when his salaries have not been paid urged the court to dismiss the counter-claim for lacking in merit and with substantial cost.
Learned Counsel for the defendant Festus Fatimehin Esq argued that non-payment of the Claimant’s salaries cannot amount to a breach of contract because as at January 2017 when the Claimant tendered his resignation letter, he still received his salary.
Delivering the Judgment after careful evaluation of the processes, exhibit, and submissions of both counsel, Justice Adewemimo held that the defendant has breached the terms of employment having failed on their legal responsibility to pay the claimant’s salary and cannot hide under this spurious defense to renege.
“It is the position of the law that a party will not be allowed to benefit from his own wrong, the defendant/counter-claimant in this suit is seeking to benefit from its own breach, and this is not only untenable but unconscionable. The terms of a contract of employment are not meant to subjugate a servant to a condition of servitude.
“It is unreasonable to expect the claimant to continue in his employment and to wait for three months’ notice to expire to terminate at the end of an academic session or part with one year basic salary in lieu of notice to terminate his appointment with the defendant, when the defendant has failed to fulfill its own part of the contract i.e. paying the claimant his salary as at when due.
The court dismissed that the counter-claim for being vexatious, indecorous and lacking in merit, ordered the defendant to pay the claimant a sum of N543,889.24k for four (4) months arrears of unpaid salaries and the sum of N334,887deducted as pension by the defendant and arrears of same and N200,000 cost of action within 30 days.