Court Awards N20m Damages Against Edo Govt, 4 Others for Unlawful Termination of Employment

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NICN
National Industrial Court

The Presiding Judge, Benin Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon Lordship, Adunola Adewemimo has declared the employment termination of Mr. Imhenrion Martin, Mr. Adorolo Micheal, and 3 others from Edo State College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi as unlawful.

Justice Adewemimo ordered Edo State Government, Commissioner of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Commissioner Of Justice, Provost and the Governing Council, Iguoriakhi College Of Agriculture to pay Mr. Imhenrion Martin and 4 others the sum of N20m as damages for unlawful employment termination, and the sum of N500,000 as cost of action within 30 days.

The Court held that the provisions contained in the College Law do not empower the Commissioner for State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources to directly employ or terminate employments made by the College Governing Council.

From facts, the claimant- Mr. Imhenrion Martin and 4 others had submitted that they were employed by the College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, and sometime in May 2018, the Commissioner for Agriculture & Natural Resources, Edo State terminated their employment with effect from 31st January 2018 and all effort to get compensation for their exit yielded no positive result.

The defendants averred that Mr. Imhenrion Martin and 4 others were relieved of their position pursuant to the decision to restructure and reposition the college, and they were subsequently paid in excess of a month notice specified by their conditions of service; added that the Edo State College of Agriculture is no longer in existence, and the Salary Grade Level stated in the employment letters is HATTIS which is alien to the Edo State Civil Service Rules urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.

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In response, counsel to Mr. Imhenrion Martin and 4 others, M. Edaghese Esq contended that the Edict establishing the college is still in force since no law has been passed to repeal same, added that the procedure for the termination of statutory employment was not followed in the instant case, urged to court to grant the reliefs sought.

Delivering the Judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Adunola Adewemimo held that Edo State College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, was created by Edo State College of Agriculture Edict, 1991 and the State Civil Service Rules applied to Mr. Imhenrion Martin and 4 others employments in the absence of any regulation for the college.

Justice Adewemimo held that Mr. Imhenrion Martin and 4 other appointments had not been terminated on the ground of misconduct but restructuring can only be categorized under redundancy in employment law.

In addition, Justice Adewimo held that Mr. Imhenrion Martin and 4 others claim for payment of salaries, and promotions were left unproven and cannot be granted.

However, the court refused to grant reinstatement claim on the ground that claimants have been rendered redundant, and the offices held by them are no longer in existence.

“The claimant’s in this case however failed to lead evidence on their ages, dates of retirement, payslips or claim any severance allowance, as a result of which this Court is constrained to grant only general sum as damages in favour of the claimants in this case for the unlawful termination of their employments.” Justice Adewemimo ruled

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