Ibadan Polytechnic Governing Council members risk jail over contempt of court

Ibadan, photo: nairaland.com

The school was sued by an aggrieved ex-staffer over the non-payment of his gratuity and pension.

A former Head of Service of the Federation, Afolabi Oladapo, may be jailed if found guilty of a contempt charge preferred against him and 12 others in an Oyo State High Court.

Mr. Afolabi, who is currently the Chairman, Governing Council of the Polytechnic, Ibadan, is expected to, along with the other 12 members of the council, appear before the court on Wednesday to explain why they have has refused to obey a court order directing the polytechnic to calculate and pay the gratuity and pension due a former staffer of the institution, Moses Adesina.

Mr. Adesina, an engineer, who voluntarily retired from the polytechnic’s service in 1999 after working for 12 years, won a case against the stoppage of his entitlements by the institution’s authorities in 2003.

The polytechnic management paid his calculated pension for three years after the retirement, but later stopped and has since refused to pay his gratuity.

The management, it was gathered, was acting on two official circulars from the state government which forbids appointment of anyone above 45 years into the public service. Mr. Adesina was already 51 years when he joined the polytechnic as a lecturer in 1987.

A portion in one of the circulars directed that appointment of any such over-aged officer already in the polytechnic’s employment be converted to contract, meaning that unlike in the terms on which he was appointed, he would no longer be entitled to pension.

The aggrieved retiree, unhappy with the new arrangement, sued his former employers.

he urged the court to declare that the stoppage and continuous withholding of his pension entitlements were “arbitrary unlawful, null and void.”

Mr. Adesina argued that the provisions of the circular were neither contained in his terms of employment nor was he duly informed of the change in policy throughout his years of service. One of the circulars was, in fact, issued only in 2004, a year after he left service. He then prayed the court for an order directing the defendant to calculate and pay him his gratuity and accumulated pensions. He also asked the court to direct the defendant to continue paying the pensions.

The plaintiff was favoured in a judgement delivered by Adegboye Gbolagunte of the State High Court on February 22, 2010.

The polytechnic appealed but lost in a follow-up judgment delivered by the Appeal Court which affirmed the lower court’s ruling on March 27, 2012.

However, Mr. Adesina was never allowed to enjoy the fruit of the verdicts as the institution authorities had taken no step to comply with the court order despite several reminders and overtures from his lawyers.

With the development, counsel to the plaintiff returned to the court to file contempt charges against the school authorities on January 25, this year.

Mr. Gbolagunte, who heard the ex-parte motion, had fixed Wednesday for hearing after granting that committal proceedings be served on the council members of the polytechnic.

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