The National Industrial Court sitting in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja has dismissed the suit filed by two former lecturers Dr. And Mrs. Agbonika against the University of Abuja for lacking in merit.
In the suit filed by the couple, they urged the court to nullify their demotion, compel the institution to pay their full wages, and affirm their letter of employment to indicate 1994 when they started working for the university.
Delivering judgment on Monday, the presiding Judge, Justice Rekiya Haastrup held that the argument of claimants that their appointments were without conditions or that the defendant did not draw their attention to any guidelines, is untenable.
“In any event, the position of the law which is applicable in the instant case is that parties are bound by the terms of the contract and where the terms of the contract are unambiguous, the parties cannot move out of the same in search of more favorable terms.
“It is, therefore, my finding that the claimants’ employment is not unconditional but subject to terms of employment as contained in the defendant’s condition of service referred to in the claimants’ respective acceptance letters (offers of employment & condition of service) and I so hold. The arguments of claimants’ counsel on this point are all rejected.
“The law is that tendering of a letter of resignation as in the present case carries with it the right to leave the service automatically, and the claimants no longer have interests to protect in that position and have no business also to sue the defendant as they did in this case. They have no standing or right to sue in this case and have no cause of action. I hold.”
Earlier during court proceedings, the defendant’s counsel, J.O Musa, explained that the applicants’ employments were against the guidelines monitoring, regulating appointment, and promotions of the academic staff of the institution.
The counsel to the varsity stated that the applicants were not qualified for the positions in which they were employed and that their earlier argument stating that there were offered unconditional appointment is absolutely untrue.
Musa stated that the applicants were discovered not to be qualified for the position after an investigative panel discovered that the former employees did not possess the necessary qualifications and recommended reversal of their appointment.
While urging the court to dismiss the case in its entirety, the counsel stated that the claimants were still receiving the reversed salary till their respective resignations from the defendant and that claimants have waived their rights (if any) was in existence, stressing that they cannot come back to institute action for reinstatement to the former position they were employed to occupy.
Counsel to the claimants, Paul Eshiemomor and Obiageli Nnaemeka, however, opined that since the defendant failed to produce the guidelines, it has withheld evidence before the court and that such action should be presumed by the judge as against its interest.
They claimed that subsequent resignation of the claimants from the University extinguished their rights which they had been ventilating prior to their resignation from the varsity