By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN—THE National Industrial Court sitting in Akure, Ondo State, has declared as unlawful, null and void, the compulsory retirement of a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Head of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, IVF Unit, Professor Augustine Orhue, from the service of the institution by the management.
The trial judge, Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi, also set aside the letter of compulsory retirement issued to him by the authorities of the university and awarded the sum of N2 million damages in his favour.
The court also held that Prof. Orhue was entitled to his outstanding salaries, promotions, bonuses, benefits, emoluments, allowances pertaining to his employment in the University of Benin from January 13, 2015 to May 2017, that is, the date of his purported compulsory retirement to his final date of retirement, adding that this must be calculated and same paid to him.
It held that payment of all sums of money awarded to the claimant should be made by the defendant within 30 days of the judgment failing which it would attract an interest of 10 percent.
Prof. Orhue was compulsorily retired from the University of Benin, sequel to an allegation that he authored an unsigned petition without an address to the then Minister of Education calling for the removal from office of former Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Osayuki Oshodin on health ground.
Prof. Oshiodi allegedly reported the claimant to the Edo Club, a social cultural group to which both of them belongs, which investigated his claim that he, Prof. Orhue allegedly wrote a petition calling for his removal as Vice-Chancellor and found him not guilty of the allegation.
He was also summoned before the Senior Staff Disciplinary Committee of the University which issued him a query on grounds of misconduct involving forgery, falsification of records and false claims against the University and later recommended his compulsory retirement.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the Committee, Prof. Orhue through his counsel, Sir Edward Aibangbee, headed to court, challenging the compulsory retirement by the authorities of the University of Benin, which he argued was wrong and unlawful because it did not follow the regulation governing the service of the institution revised in 2003.
He also contended that he had suffered pre-matured retirement for an offence not established against him as his retirement date would have been May 12, 2017, adding that his wrong and unlawful retirement had caused him the loss of all his entitlements and benefits he would have enjoyed or entitled to.