The National Industrial Court has ordered the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma to reinstate a sacked staff member, Asigene Peter.
The judge, Justice Adunola Adewemimo who delivered the judgment via virtual proceedings also ordered the institute to reinstate Peter to his former position with payment of all entitlements and emoluments from April 2020 till date.
Mrs Adewemimo also held that there was no provision supporting the institute’s assertions, specifically on the point that the University Governing Council could review its decision to impose another sanction after the conclusion of a disciplinary process for the same offence.
The court further held that the Commissioner of Education lacked the capacity, powers, or vires to unilaterally alter or change the decision of the council in a matter which led to the demotion of the claimant.
Mrs Adewemimo equally said that after the demotion, it was no longer open to the University to revisit the issue as there was no provision in the terms of employment to support such re-visitation under any guise.
The judge concluded that the decision of the University Governing Council being the final organ as far as the employment and discipline of staff was concerned, cannot be overruled by the Commissioner, especially having earlier considered the report of the Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee against the claimant and had settled on demotion as the punishment.
Joined in the suit as co- defendants were the Governing Council, the Vice Chancellor the Registrar, Deputy Registrar of the University and the Commissioner of Education.
Peter, in his Statement of Facts had averred that the Governing Council of the university having earlier demoted him, lacked the powers to dismiss him at the directives of the Hon. Commissioner of Education, for the same offence.
The claimant, through his counsel also submitted his argument that the disciplinary powers was vested on the Governing Council and no other body.
He added that the Commissioner of Education acted contrarily when he intervened in the business of the governing council and directed them to dismiss his client.
The defendant on its part urged the court to dismiss the suit in its entirety and went further to state that upon the intervention of any member of the council, the council may review its decision in line with the laws and regulations of the university.
The institute, in its defense, averred that the intervention of the Commissioner of Education was proper.
It also argued that the subject matter was academic, hence the intervention of the commissioner, but that however the facts clearly showed that the commissioner did not dismiss the claimant.