Court reinstates MAU staff sacked nine years ago

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The National Industrial Court, Yola Judicial Division has nullified the dismissal of Abdullahi Sa’adu, an academic staff of the Modibbo Adama University (MAU) Yola.

The presiding Judge of the court, Justice Sanusi Kado further ordered the management of the university to immediately reinstate the sacked staff.

According to the court, the purported dismissal of Abdulahi based on the report of the Committee on Academic Staff Abscondment was in breach of the doctrine of natural justice.

Abdulahi was dismissed from the institution sometimes in June, 2012 due to lack of proof of resumption of duty after the expiration of his study leave and was denied all his salary and other entitlements by the institution.

He earlier told the court that he was employed by the University in 2007, and thereafter applied for study leave, and that he was unable to submit a progress report of his program to his employer due to circumstances beyond his control, and that he had intimated his Head of Department.

According to him, he was later issued with a query on the status of his study leave the same day his salary was stopped which he replied.

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He said he had never stopped coming to work after he returned from studies around 2010, and that he wrote to the University about his return, but the letter was rejected by the Registrar’s office as according to them, there was no certificate attached to the letter, saying that the registrar did not ask him to go back until he brings a certificate.

He narrated that in response to his letter, he was served with a letter of dismissal from service dated 31st July, 2018, following the report of the committee that he had violated study fellowship regulations and the University conditions of service.

But Counsel to the claimant, Mohammed Abubakar, Esq argued that the dismissal of Abdulahi based on the report of the Committee on Academic Staff Abscondment not disciplinary panel is a breach of the right to a fair hearing, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought in the interest of justice.

In its defence, the University on its part insisted that Abdulahi was accorded fair hearing because he was queried and appeared before the academic committee on abscondment and the committee found him culpable and recommended for his dismissal.

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According to the institution, the university management approved the dismissal with effect from 21/6/2012 and not 19/6/2018 as stated in the letter of dismissal, and urged the court to dismiss the entire claim of the claimant but grant the reliefs sought in the counterclaim.

Delivering its judgment after careful perusal of the submissions of both counsels, the presiding Judge, Justice Sanusi Kado held that university cannot be faulted for stoppage of payment of Abdulahi salary for being absent from work or refusal to return after expiration of the period of study leave granted to him, and has also not adduced any evidence of his salary and the other entitlement.

Justice Kado held that Abdulahi never faced any disciplinary panel set up by the council that has the power under the Act to do so and no evidence that council set up a disciplinary committee to investigate Abdulahi on the allegation of refusal to resume duty after the expiration of the period of fellowship.

He declared that the action of the institution in sacking Abdulahi did not follow the provisions of the University Act, and declared same as void and unconstitutional.

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Lastly, the court dismissed the University’s counterclaims for lacking merit.

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