Abuja---His Lordship, Hon. Justice Rekiya Haastrup of the National Industrial Court, Abuja Judicial Division has dismissed the case filed by two former lecturers Dr. And Mrs. Agbonika against the University of Abuja in its entirety for lacking in merit.
Justice Haastrup held that held the argument of Dr. And Mrs. Agbonika that their appointments were without conditions or that University did not draw their attention to any Guidelines is untenable that Court must always respect the sanctity of the agreements reached by parties, and must not make a contract for them or re-write the one they have already made.
From facts, the Claimants had averred that their letters of unconditional appointment were signed in 1994 and was not accompanied by any guidelines neither was any reference made to the existence of such, that the University went ahead to effect their demotion and reduced their salaries after a period of devout service, urged the court to nullify the purported letters of reversal among others.
To Defendant’s Counsel, J.O Musa Esq. the Claimants’ employment was against the guidelines regulating appointment and promotions of the academic staff of the Institution as the Claimants were not qualified for the positions in which they were employed that their argument that they were offered unconditional appointment is untrue.
It is the further argument of counsel that upon implementation by management of the proposal of investigation panel in reversing the appointments of claimants, the claimants were still receiving the reversed salary till their respective resignations from the defendant that claimants have waived their rights (if any) was in existence that they cannot come back to institute action for reinstatement to the former position they were employed to occupy urged the Court to dismiss the case in its entirety as same is incompetent, frivolous and lacking in merit.
In opposition, learned Counsel to the claimants, Paul Eshiemomor Esq. and Obiageli Nnaemeka Esq opined that since the defendant failed to produce the guidelines, the defendant has withheld evidence before this Court, and the Court will presume that the evidence is against its interest and has not shown how the subsequent resignation of the claimants from the University extinguished their rights which they had been ventilating prior to their resignation from the University.
Delivering Judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Haastrup held that the argument of claimants that their appointments were without conditions or that defendant did not draw their attention to any Guidelines, is untenable.
“In any event, the position of the law which is applicable in the instant case is that parties are bound by the terms of the contract and where the terms of the contract are unambiguous, the parties cannot move out of same in search of more favourable terms.
“It is, therefore, my finding that the claimants’ employment is not unconditional but subject to terms of employment as contained in defendant’s condition of service referred to in the claimants’ respective acceptance letters (offers of employment & condition of service) and I so hold. The arguments of claimants’ counsel on this point are all rejected.
“The law is that tendering of a letter of resignation as in the present case carries with it the right to leave the service automatically, and the claimants no longer have interests to protect in that position and have no business also to sue the defendant as they did in this case. They have no standing or right to sue in this case and have no cause of action. I so hold.