The National Industrial Court in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, has overturned the decision of the Federal University, Otuoke in the Ogbia Local Government Area of the State to demote an Associate Professor in Modern Sciences, Dr. Timothy Falade-Obalade Adedapo, to a Senior Lecturer, declaring the action of the institution to be illegal, null and void.
The Court also awarded Dr. Timothy Falade-Obalade Adedapo N5 million in damages for the Institution’s choice to incorrectly challenge his qualifications and ridicule him in public and in a Nigerian tabloid.
In his ruling on the suit numbered NIC/YEN/2019 filed by Dr. Timothy Falade-Obalade Adedapo (claimant) against Federal University, Otuoke and the Former Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Seth Accra Jaja (defendants), the Presiding Judge, Justice Bashar Alkali, declared that the demotion of Dr. Timothy Falade-Obalade Adedapo from Associate Professor to Senior Lecturer of the Institution was unlawful.
“The demotion from the position of Associate Professor to Senior Lecturer is illegal, null and void.”
On the issue of defamation of character and qualifications, Justice Alkali decided that the FUO’s defamatory claim against the claimant is “reckless and against the normal procedure,” and that “they ought to have investigated that he does not have the scholarship to qualify him as Associate professor. I declare that the sum of N5million be paid in damages to the claimant.”
Dr. Timothy Falade-Obalade Adedapo had in his suit against the Federal University, Otuoke argued that there were seven lecturers affected by the decision of institution attributed to its Governing Council, “ but in the institution press release dated 18th December 2018, had announced that he was downgraded from the rank of Associate Professor to Senior Lecturer.
“That the said publication portrayed him as a criminal who forged a certificate with which he obtained employment with the Institution (first defendant).
“That the publication portrays him as a person who is not a fit and proper person to be employed as an associate professor.
“That the publication portrayed him as a criminal who used criminal pretence to earn salaries and other prerequisites of office that he is not entitled to. That the publication portrays him as a person who is unfit for the position of Associate Professor which he is occupying and is so bad in his chosen field that he has to be downgraded from Associate Professor to the position of Senior Professor.”
Adedapo, on the other hand, asked the court to declare that the defendants’ purported conversion of the claimant’s pensionable appointment to a contract appointment is ultra vire the Federal University, Otuoke (Establishment) Act, 2015, the 1999 constitution(as amended), and all known practices, “A declaration that the purported re-classification of appointment of the claimant by the defendants from the position of an Associate Professor to Senior Lecturer on the ground that the claimant did not have the requisite scholarship at the point of entry without hearing the claimant is ultra vire, unconstitutional, null and void.”