By Osahon Osahon
Justice Abiola Adewemimo of the Benin Division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria on Monday upturned the diamisal of workers of the Edo State College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, by the state government.
She also ordered payment of N4 million compensation to each of the affected workers and a general damage sum of N500,000 to the claimants.
The claimants are, Mr Imhenrion O. Martin, Mr Adorolo O. Michael, Mr Osayande Clifford, Mrs. Mercy Ozabor, and Mr Eikhor Nosakhare Abel, were claimants in the suit marked: NICN/BEN/25/2018, while Edo State Government; State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources; the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Provost of the College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, and the Governing Council of the College, are defendants.
They instituted the case in the month of August, 2018, following the termination of their appointment by the state government, on the excuse that the school is being restructured.
Delivering her judgment, Justice Adewemimo ordered the defendants to pay each of the claimants numbering about 90, the N4 million compensation within 30 days, failure upon which attracts an annual interest of 10 per cent.
The Judge held that the State Government was wrong to have claimed that the workers were temporary workers.
She further further held that their letters of employment indicated a period of probation which does not translate to temporary workers.
“This court is to check labour practice and for the defendant to say their employment was temporary connotes unfair labour practices,” she said.
Justice Adewemimo further held that even though an employer has the right to terminate employments, such actions must be done in accordance with established conditions of service, adding that Edo State Government did not do that in this case.
She however noted that although the government did not show any evidence that the school was no longer in existence, but that it was being restructured, therefore it would be difficult to reinstate the workers as demanded.
She said the special damages in the form of salaries and promotions claimed by the workers could not be given because they did not prove them with the statutorily required documents to enjoy such benefit.
Reacting to the judgment, counsel to the workers, Matthew Edaghese, Esq., said the court in its wisdom held that the so-called termination of appointment was null and void, adding that it negates all known and relevant labour laws.
“It was a reckless executive indiscretion. This is a warning to the executive arm of government that they are governed by the laws of the land and they are not laws unto themselves,” he added.