Eight staff of the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) who were unjustly sacked five years ago have been reinstated.
The victims, who are all chartered accountants, include the former bursar of the institution, Olu Ibirogba, and seven other staffers of the college’s bursary department.
One of the reinstated workers, Bashiru Adedeji, died on January 9, 2017, following complications that set in after he was operated for an ailment at a hospital in Ibadan.
The other affected workers, are Charles Akarayi, Bamidele Ajinde, Olusola Dada, Mopelola Ibitomi, Funmilayo Dada and Temilola Akinwusi.
The reinstatement followed a 2018 judgement of the National Industrial Court (NIC) sitting in Lagos, which voided Mr Ibirogba’s dismissal and ordered the governing council and the management of Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) to immediately reinstate him.
Mr Ibirogba was initially suspended in 2013 before he was sacked alongside seven others in 2014 for exposing alleged corrupt practices in the institution.
In its judgement in 2018, the court also awarded 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.
In the judgement, a copy of which was made available to PREMIUM TIMES, the presiding judge, O.A Obaseki-Osaghae, also directed the institution to pay Mr Ibirogba all outstanding salaries and benefits due to him since he was dismissed in July 2015.
According to Ms Obaseki-Osaghae, the same court had in July 2015 ruled in favour of the claimant, Mr Ibirogba, in a similar matter he filed against the institution’s Council, Management and the then Rector, Margaret Ladipo, over what the court described as his illegal suspension.
Ms Obaseki-Osaghae had lambasted the counsel to Yabatech, Omolola Satar, whom she said did not advise his client properly. She said 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 and the chairpersons of two anti-graft agencies, EFCC and ICPC, to commence investigations into the allegations of corruption raised by Mr Ibirogba against the immediate past management of the college.
Justice Obaseki-Osaghae, who ordered the council of the school to pay Mr Ibirogba all his accrued benefits, directed that this should be done within 30 days, or the monies would attract a 10 per cent interest.
“I find that there was a calculated and 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,” the judge ruled.
In obeying the ruling, the management of the institution, led by the new Rector, Obafemi Omokungbe, and the polytechnic’s governing council chaired by Lateef Fagbemi, a senior advocate of Nigeria, said they had reached a middle ground with the affected staff.
The management agreed to reinstate Mr Ibirogba and the seven others with the condition that their salaries and allowances attached to their levels at the point of their exit would be paid while their promotion would be effected notionally.
Mr Ibirogba was asked to report to the Epe Campus of the polytechnic as a director.
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Ibirogba thanked Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and particularly the media for standing in their defence while the matter lasted.
He said: “We sincerely appreciate everyone who stood by us and all those who intervened to ensure that there is an amicable resolution at the end of the day.
“Our heart is with one of us who unfortunately died before this resolution. Mr Adedeji was not only a team player but core professional.”
Speaking on behalf of the college, the Public Relations Officer, Ndubueze Ejiofor, said as a law-abiding institution, the college has reinstated all the affected workers. He said relevant steps are being taken to get them settled comfortably at work.
In a short message to PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Ejiofor said; “The dismissed bursary staff were reinstated based on a valid court judgement, with the terms of agreement in reference to the judgement implemented.
“By this, I mean the terms of agreement in line with the court judgement have been adhered to by the college.”
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