By Onozure Dania
The National Industrial Court (NIC), Lagos division, has ordered the National Universities Commission (NUC), to immediately reinstate Mr Kunle Rotimi with effect from 1996.
In 1996, the NUC had taken wrongful, arbitrary and unlawful decision to dismiss Mr Kunle Rotimi, an official of the commission without any trial or statutory reasons.
Rotimi, in his claims, said that the NUC granted him statutory approval to undertake a masters degree in Industrial and Labour Relations (MILR) at the University of Ibadan 1995/96.
He also claimed that he refused to give gratification to some NUC management officials who demanded the same to facilitate hitch-free study which was earlier approved for him on full sponsorship.
Rotimi said that his refusal to part with gratification led to the wrongful and unlawful decision to dismiss him without trial.
However, in 2009, Rotimi took the matter to the Federal High Court, but the case was transferred to the National Industrial Court (NIC), in 2018, in suit NICN/LA/646/2018.( KUNLE vs NUC).
Delivering judgement on the suit last Monday, July 6, Justice Isaac Essien after considering claims by both parties to the suit ordered NUC to reinstate Mr Kunle Rotimi into commensurate position, give him all his denied entitlements, allowances, emoluments, salaries and bonuses accruable to his status from 1 March 1996 to date, pay N1,000,000 as damages and N100,000 as cost of the suit.
Meanwhile, the Court, in the landmark judgement which lasted for about one hour 15minutes, took judicial notice of massive inconsistency, contradictions, discrepancies and strange denial of credible evidence contained in NUC’s statements of defence and in the hearsay evidence given by its witness Mr Moses Awe from the legal department of NUC.
In his response to the judgement, Rotimi’s counsel Mr Oladele Ojogbede expressed his gratitude to the judge for being very fair, forthright and diligent in the suit, adding that the judicial principles and authorities cited by Justice Essien will remain a locus classicus in the history of Judiciary in Nigeria.
He said that the success of this suit has rekindled the hope of every citizen in the judiciary that no matter how long injustice and impunity last, justice is certain if lawfully pursued.
Ojogbede disclosed that, in the course of preparing his written address in the suit, he discovered that some valuable and useful documents of about 45 pages had been removed by some unknown persons from the case file transferred to NIC. But for the good vigilance of the Court, all the documents were recovered and retransmitted from the Court’s backup files to serve the cause of justice.
Commenting on the judgement, Kunle Rotimi glorified God for the legal victory, thanked the judge for being impartial and God-fearing in the dispensation of justice, adding that, if all judges will be like justice Essien, then the judiciary would be better than it is.
Rotimi, however, affirmed that he has forgiven all those who wronged him and that he would never bear grudges against them and the reputable Commission.NUC
He expressed optimism that the current NUC management would rationally do the needful, obey the Court order and respect the rule of law in the public interest.