The National Industrial Court (NIC) has directed the Governing Council and the management of Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) to immediately reinstate its embattled Bursar, Olu Ibirogba, who was sacked in 2015 for exposing alleged corrupt practices in the institution.
This is as it also awarded in damages and legal costs to the tune of N21 million to be paid by the college to Mr Ibirogba, who it said had suffered injustice by being unfairly sacked.
A copy of the judgement obtained by EduCeleb.com on Tuesday indicated that the presiding judge, Justice O.A Obaseki-Osaghae also directed the institution to pay Ibirogba all outstanding salaries and benefits due to him since he was dismissed in July, 2015.
According to Obaseki-Osaghae, the same court had in July 2015 ruled in favour of the claimant, Ibirogba, in a similar matter he filed against the institution’s Council, Management and the then Rector, Dr. (Mrs) Margaret Kudirat Ladipo, over what the court described as his illegal suspension.
Joined in the suit as defendants were governing council, the erstwhile rector, and the Registrar.
Since there has been a change in power at the college recently, it not clear whether the judgement would be binding on the new registrar of the institution who was not joined in the suit.
Suspended, then dismissed
EduCeleb.com recalls that Ibirogba was initially suspended after being accused of “leaking classified information” to the public through Sahara News, Osun Defender, Premium Times and Global News Magazine in 2013.
With eight count charges against him and one Charles Akharayi at the NIC, they were also said to have written several threat letters, which they allegedly circulated against the person of the immediate past Rector of the college, Dr Margaret Ladipo.
After he won the Polytechnic at the NIC and the court ordered his reinstatement in 2015, the management immediately sacked him and set up an internal panel to investigate the allegations against Ladipo.
Since then, there have been an outcry for his reinstatement, especially through the social media. But the polytechnic management had refused to abide by the judgement.
Government panel previously sanctioned Ibirogba
Later in June 2017, a panel set up by the Nigerian government to investigate the allegations later absorbed Ladipo of the allegations.
The report of the panel signed by its chairman, Femi Awopetu dismissed the allegations and ordered the former bursar to refund all unauthorised commissions collected by him.
The committee specifically directed that Ibirogba be sanctioned for giving false information against a public officer while calling on the Inspector General of Police to prosecute him for that.
The Professor Awopetu-led panel stated thus, “Ibirogba did not provide any evidence, other than a reference to a telephone conversation between himself and the rector. Due to the fact that the allegation had no concrete evidence it should be considered baseless.”
On the allegation that the college paid sitting allowances to the governing council investigative committee members, the panel held that Ibirogba not only computed the allowances for the members but also recommended it to the rector for approval.
The panel noted, “It is mischievous on the part of Mr. Ibirogba to have computed and recommended for approval the allowances payable to each member of the committee when he was aware of the rightful entitlement.”
Judge lambasts YABATECH for delaying justice
Justice Obaseki-Osaghae lambasted the counsel to YABATECH, Omolola Satar, whom she said did not advise his client properly, noting that the action of the institution while the case lasted was a disrespect of the judicial process, and the rule of law.
She also directed the Inspector General of Police, Chairmen of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to commence investigations into the allegations of corruption raised by Mr. Ibirogba against the immediate past management of the college, which had led to his dismissal and sack.
Justice Obaseki-Osaghae who ordered the council of the school to pay Ibirogba all his accrued benefits, directed that this should be done within 30 days, or the monies would attract interest of 10 per cent.
The judge had ruled; “I find that there was a calculated deliberate attempt by the defendants to subvert the cause and administration of justice. This is one of the instances the Court must grant punitive costs to forestall a repeat of the contemptuous actions of the defendants. Consequently, I award the sum of N20,000,000.00 (Twenty Million Naira) as punitive damages jointly and severally against the defendants for the unjust termination of the claimant’s appointment and deliberate attempt by the defendants to subvert the cause of justice.”
YABATECH management studying the situation
Meanwhile, the management of the polytechnic said it was studying the details of the judgement towards knowing the next step to take.
Speaking with EduCeleb.com, the Public Relations Officer of YABATECH, Ndubueze Ejiofor, said the management would communicate its eventual decision on the matter to the media when it decides.
“The management is still studying the full details of the judgement. When we are through with that, we would let you know. As soon as a position is taken, the college will make it public,” Mr Ejiofor said.