The Presiding Judge, Enugu Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Olukayode Arowosegbe has dismissed the case filed by Mr. Keneth Ogbodo on alleged constructive employment termination against Federal College of Education Eha-Amufu and Federal Ministry of Education Abuja for lack of proof.
Justice Arowosegbe held that the declaratory reliefs sought by Mr. Ogbodo are only granted where the Court is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence and it would be inequitable to grant such reliefs on a platter of gold.
From facts, the claimant- Mr. Keneth Ogbodo had pleaded that he was employed into permanent and pensionable employment by the former College of Education Eha-Amufu, which later transmuted to Federal College of Education Eha-Amufu by virtue of the 1993 Decree.
He pleaded that, the Federal College of Education Eha-Amufu took over all the assets and liability of the previous College and that, the staff was given the options to remain with the Federal College or redeploy to the Enugu State Civil Service and he exercised his option of staying with the college and complied with all other requisites to perfect the option.
The claimant further pleaded that the Federal College of Education Eha-Amufu and agents of the Federal Ministry of Education conducted reabsorption exercise, which purportedly redeployed him to the Enugu State Government and followed up with a circular that, the instruction for the redeployment was from the Minister.
He further posited that, whereas, the Minister lacked such power and even at that, the Enugu State Government refused to accept him and he informed the college of the rejection via a letter.
The claimant’s counsel pleaded that the college had stopped paying his client salaries, and the purported redeployment was a ruse, whimsical and discriminatory, and failed to comply with the Labour Act, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
However, the defendants- the Federal College of Education Eha-Amufu and the Federal Ministry of Education failed to file any defence.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, held that the case being an undefended one does not mean that the claimant must win and that the Court has the duty, irrespective of whether the case was defended, to apply the correct law to the facts of the case.
Justice Arowosegbe stated since Mr. Ogbodo did not plead and prove the nature of his employment status before joining the Federal College of Education Eha-Amufu via the erstwhile State College of education, the court cannot presume that he had been in another government employment as a lecturer or teacher before he was employed in the Federal College as a lecturer.
The Court held that there is neither pleading nor proof of the date Mr. Ogbodo resumed the appointment from the earlier job to reckon that he had escaped the threshold of probation before the constructive termination.
“There is neither pleading that the claimant had been confirmed nor any evidence to that effect. To make the matter worse, there is also neither pleading nor proof that the employment had statutory flavour.” Justice Arowosegbe ruled.