The Presiding Judge, Yenagoa Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Bashar Alkali has declared that Mr. Kieriseiye Erefagha is still a staff of the Bayelsa State College of Technology having not been retired, dismissed, and/or redeployed to any Department or Agency of the Bayelsa State Government.
The Court ordered the Bayelsa State Government, Bayelsa State College of Technology and its Provost to pay Mr. Kieriseiye Erefagha the sum of N1, 673,418.15K (One Million, Six Hundred and Seventy-Three Thousand, Four Hundred and Eighteen Naira, Fifteen Kobo) being his cumulative net salaries from May 2018 to July 2019, and N1m as general damages for the hardship and inconveniences suffered following the unlawful withholding of his salaries, with N500k cost of action within 30 days.
Justice Alkali granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Bayelsa State Government, Bayelsa State College of Technology and its Provost, their servants, privities, and other persons claiming through or under the Defendants from unlawfully and unconstitutionally withholding the salaries and entitlements of Mr. Erefagha except under the due process of the law.
From facts, the claimant- Mr. Kieriseiye Erefagha had submitted that he had been a dedicated staff of the Bayelsa State College of Technology from the date of his appointment until 14th May 2018 when the College, without any cogent reason, put up an internal memorandum notifying him and other staff that their names had been forwarded to the State Government for redeployment without stating the particular Department or Agency of the State Government to which they had been redeployed.
He stated that soon after the publication of the said internal memo, the Bayelsa State College of Technology started withholding his monthly salary, which act has continued till date in spite of series of protests.
In defence, the defendants- Bayelsa State Government, Bayelsa State College of Technology and its Provost averred that Mr. Erefagha’s appointment was not authorized neither did it follow due process of applicable rules, and the alleged statutory appointment is questionable, as his appointment is in contravention of the Regulations/Scheme Governing the College.
The Bayelsa State College of Technology averred that Mr. Erefagha and others were relieved of their appointment due to the manner of their appointment which was without the approval of the Governing Council of the Bayelsa State College of Technology, and the defendants argued that since Mr. Erefagha’s appointment was without due process, his salaries were stopped, and the school has paid him the 3 months’ salary in lieu of notice, and urged the court to dismiss the case.
In opposition, the claimant’s counsel, A.E. Omiloli Esq argued that the employment or appointment of Mr. Erefagha as staff of the Bayelsa State College of Technology is an official act, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Bashar Alkali held that the Court will not allow any party to come with oral evidence to change what is already being clear by documentary evidence.
The Court ruled that the employment of Mr. Kieriseiye Erefagha with the Defendants is clothed with statutory flavour, and the payment of three months’ salary in lieu of notice cannot validate illegality committed against the regulation of the Bayelsa State College of Technology.
Justice Alkali ruled that failure of the Bayelsa State College of Technology to consider the recommendation of the Committee as contained in the Executive Summary of the meeting of Governing Council and the Joint Excos of the Three Unions in the College where it is recommended that the persons employed in 2015 with due approval be retained, and the letter of Service no Longer Required was issued on Mr. Kieriseiye Erefagha in flagrant regulation of the Bayelsa State College of Technology.