Court upholds don’s sack over double emoluments

By Nudoiba Ojen

Justice J.D. Peters of the National Industrial Court, Ibadan has upheld the sack of a lecturer in Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Dr Elizabeth Aanu, for illegitimately drawing salary and pension simultaneously from both the university and Ogun State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).

Aanu had filed a case against the university over her sack praying the court to declare the termination of her appointment as “wrongful, null and void”.

Delivering a judgment on April 15 in the case, Justice Peters upheld the submission of counsel to OOU, Barrister Felix Ogunmade, that given the stipulation in paragraph 2(a), Part 1 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal (CCT) Act which prohibits receipt of two emoluments simultaneously, Aanu’s conduct as a public officer violated the fifth schedule of both the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the CCT Act.

Counsel to Aanu, B.A. Ogunleye, had among others, sought declarations setting aside the sack of his client, who was engaged in August 2006 by Appointment and Promotion Committee (A&PC) of OOU for a probation period of two years but was not confirmed until her sack in June 2021.

The counsel also demanded for payment of arrears to Aanu and her reinstatement for what he described as wrongful termination of his client’s appointment.

Dr Aanu who had been engaged by OOU as Assistant Lecturer in 2006, failed to disclose to the institution that she had retired from SUBEB, paid gratuity and also earning pensions while also drawing a monthly salary from OOU.

She later obtained a doctor’s degree and was consequently promoted to the position of Lecturer II but was not confirmed following the discovery that she had retired from SUBEB, drawing pensions and yet seeking another pensionable job with OOU.

Reviewing submissions before his final judgment, Justice Peters said, “yet the question as to how the claimant disengaged from SUBEB remained unanswered. I, at this stage, opt to ask some pertinent questions and proffer answers within the available evidence before me in resolving this issue. Did the Claimant work with SUBEB, Ogun State for 26 years? Yes.

“Did the Claimant retire from SUBEB, was she paid her gratuity and drawing monthly pensions? Again, I answer in the affirmative”. While under cross examination in this case, Claimant in response to a specific question told the Court that she was paid her gratuity by SUBEB. She also responded to another question that she is presently receiving monthly pensions from SUBEB. She, however, stated that she could not say for how long she had been collecting pensions.”

The judge added: “My attention was drawn by the learned counsel to the defendants, Felix Ogunmade, to the fact that the claimant was a public officer within the meaning of Part 11 of the 5th schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.

“Now by paragraph 2(a), Part 1 of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, a public officer shall not receive or be paid the emolument of any other public office. Within the meaning of Interpretation of Section of the 5th Schedule to the Constitution, salary, gratuity and pensions are part of the meaning of emolument.”

Describing the appointment of the plaintiff as irregular, Justice Peters held that the “the Claimant was disqualified from accepting another permanent and pensionable appointment having once retired from the service of SUBEB under Ogun State Government.”

The judge, while dismissing the suit filed by Aanu, also dismissed other reliefs sought by her counsel, including an order for payment of N883,596 salary arrears from July, 2021 to 31 December, 2021; N662,697 for accumulated leave for 2007 and 2008 and N147,266
as balance of 2021 unspent leave.

He also described the plaintiff’s prayer for some reliefs, if not the total reliefs she sought, as baseless because she had not acted in good conscience, reiterating that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.

The judge therefore dismissed the entire suit and awarded N200,000 against the plaintiff in favour of the defendants.

“Finally, for the avoidance of doubt and for all the reasons as contained in this judgment, I dismiss the case of the claimant in its entirety for lack of proof. The claimant shall pay to the Defendant the cost of this proceeding assessed at N200,000 only,” the judge held.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *