By Lukman Olabiyi
The National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), Lagos has affirmed the dismissal of a Lagos State University (LASU) lecturer, Dr. Fatimat Oluwatoyin Bakare.
The court also ordered the claimant to refund N9,125,341.29 to LASU within 14 days of Judgment.
Dr. Bakare was dismissed by LASU for abandoning her work in 2017. She instituted the suit against her employer, while contending that she was wrongfully and unlawfully dismissed, having tendered her letter of resignation on February 23,2016 to take effect from March 1, 2016.
However, the University through their counsel, Adeleke Agbola of Cheakley Chambers in their defence and Counter claim to the Suit, contended that the purported resignation of the Claimant remains void as she has not discharged or served the bond she entered into with the University through which she financed her Doctorate Degree programme at University of Boras in Sweden.
Specifically, the University insisted that she was indebted to the institution to the tune of N9,125,341.29 being the total sum she was paid as salaries during the four years duration of the programme.
Reviewing the cases of both the Claimant and the Defendant, the trial judge, Justice I.J Essien held that the Claimant was properly dismissed for absconding and abandoning her work on September 7, 2017.
The court noted that from the evidence adduced before the Court, the Claimant got admission to pursue a doctorate degree programme in University of Boras, Sweden for four years between 1st March 2011 to 28th February 2015 which was funded by the salaries she collected from her employer in accordance with the terms of the bond she entered with the Defendant.
According to the Court, the computed salaries paid to the Claimant tendered as Exhibit by the Defendant was not controverted.
Consequently, the Court held that the Defendant has proved the Counter claim against the Claimant and ordered the Claimant to pay the Defendant the sum of N9,125,341.29k within 14 days of the Judgment.
Picking holes in the case of the Claimant,
Justice Essien held: “To show the bad faith,the Claimant, while on one breadth is stating that she is not disputing being indebted to the Counter Claimant, on the other breath, the Claimant in paragraph 10.44 of theCounsel Final Written Address argues that there is no evidence that the money waspaid to the Claimant.
”According to the terms and condition of the bond entered to by the Claimant with theDefendant, the Defendant will pay the Claimant full salaries throughout the durationof the program, while the Claimant will serve the Defendant for two years for each of the year she spent on the program or five years with option of refunding the total sumif she does not want to continue working for the Defendant. The Claimant however,refused to resume work after obtaining her doctorate program and resigned herappointment with the Claimant.The Court also awarded N500,000 cost in favour of the Defendant.