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Court upturns demotion of associate prof, awards N5m damages

By Julius Osahon, Yenagoa
15 December 2021   |   2:48 am
National Industrial Court (NIC) sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, has upturned the decision by the authorities of the Federal University, Otuoke, to demote Associate Professor in Modern Sciences, Dr. Timothy Falade-Obalade Adedapo...

National Industrial Court (NIC) sitting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, has upturned the decision by the authorities of the Federal University, Otuoke, to demote Associate Professor in Modern Sciences, Dr. Timothy Falade-Obalade Adedapo, to a senior lecturer of the institution, declaring the action illegal, null and void.

The court also awarded the sum of N5 million damages to Adedapo for also ridiculing him in public and in a Nigerian tabloid.

The presiding judge, Justice Bashar Alkali, in his ruling declared: “The demotion from the position of Associate Professor to Senior Lecturer is illegal, null and void.”

On the alleged defamation of character, Justice Alkali, ruled that the claim by FUO against the claimant is reckless and against normal practice, saying: “They ought to have investigated that he does not have the scholarship to qualify him as an associate professor. I declare that the sum of N5million be paid in damages to the claimant.”

Dr. Adedapo had, in his suit against the university, argued that the institution’s press statement, dated December 18th , 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 certificate with which he obtained employment with the institution (first defendant); and that the publication portrayed him as a person not a fit and proper to be employed as an associate professor.

He also claimed that the publication portrayed him as a criminal who used criminal pretence to earn salaries and other perquisite of office that he is not entitled to; that the publication portrayed 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 lecturer.

Adedapo prayed the court to declare that the purported conversion of the claimant’s pensionable appointment to a contract appointment is ultra vire the defendants having regard to the Federal University, Otuoke (establishment) Act, 2015, of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and all known practices.

He sought “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.”