The Presiding Judge, Benin Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Adunola Adewemimo has ordered Pan African College of Education, Offa to pay her former lecturers and administrators, Chief Olaoye Bade and Six Others the sum of seven million, six hundred and thirty-eight thousand, two hundred and fifty naira arrears of Salaries and Allowances for April 2016 to March 2018 within 30 days.
The Court held that the college refusal to pay the Claimants’ arrears of salaries, housing and utility allowance was wrongful and in contravention of the terms and conditions of service contained in the letters of appointment.
The claimants’- Chief Olaoye Bade and six others had submitted that they worked for the institution for several months without receiving any salary and allowances, and made several efforts and appeals for the payment of same, but all to no avail then tendered their resignation letters and instructed their counsel S.A. Omotosho Esq. to write a letter of demand and pre-action notice to the defendants, before the suit was filed.
The claimants finally averred that the refusal/failure of the defendants to pay their arrears of salaries and allowances resulted into psychological trauma, emotional distress and financial deprivation.
In defence, the defendants denied all material averments and contended that four of the claimants are not entitled to April 2016 salary because the institution was not fully operational at that time, pleaded that the second set of letters of probational appointment issued to the claimants were as a result of the slow take-off of the school, and persistent low enrolment of students.
The defendant submitted the claimants by their letters dated 7th November 2016 informed the defendants of their decision to step aside from work and they never returned till they tendered their respective resignation letters.
The College further alleged that the claimants engaged in the act of misconduct that affected the institution urged the court to dismiss the claimants’ action as same is frivolous and abuse of court process.
In reply, the claimants asserted that the college did not suffer any low enrolment of students or closure or interruption till date, that the allegations made against them by the defendants were incorrect.
Learned defence counsel contended that the claims in this suit are for salary arrears till March 2018 and since there is no evidence before this Court to show that the claimants worked beyond November 2016, the reliefs are bound to fail.
After careful evaluation of the submissions of both counsel and processes filed, Delivering Judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Adewemimo held that allegation of misconduct against the claimants cannot be the same as evidence that they stopped working or that their employment contracts were terminated.
"It is trite law that the terms and conditions in a contract of employment guide the employment and governs the discipline of staff in instances of misconduct.
"However, there is no iota of evidence placed before this court to prove that such a disciplinary process was invoked against the claimants by way of query or any other step that can lead to the conclusion that the claimants’ employment contracts were terminated by the defendants in pursuance of this allegation.
"In the instant case, the entire gamut of the evidence and documents placed before this court points towards the inexorable conclusion that the claimants were in the employment of the defendants till March 2018 and are therefore entitled to the arrears of salaries and allowances owed as contained in their claims before this court."