Court reinstates Yaba Tech Bursa sacked for exposing fraud, gets N21m for damages

The National Industrial Court (NIC) has ordered the Governing Council and the management of Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), Lagos, to immediately reinstate its former Bursar, Mr Olu Ibirogba, who was sacked in 2015 for exposing alleged corrupt practices in the institution.

The court also awarded in damages and legal costs to the tune of N21 million to be paid by the college to the embattled bursar on the basis, that he had suffered injustice by being unfairly sacked.

Mr Ibirogba, an accountant in Yabatech, had dragged the college before the industrial court in 2013, after he was suspended by the college management, which accused him of releasing sensitive information about the institution to a third party, which, in turn, petitioned the management.

However, in the judgment, a copy of which Nigerian Tribune accessed, the presiding judge, Justice O.A Obaseki-Osaghae, also directed the foremost polytechnic in the country to pay Ibirogba all outstanding salaries and benefits due to him since he was dismissed two years ago.

According to him, the same court had in July 2015 ruled in favour of the claimant, Ibirogba, in a similar matter he filed against the institution’s Council, Management and the then Rector, Dr (Mrs) Margaret Kudirat Ladipo, over what the court described as his illegal suspension.

While condemning the counsel to Yabatech, Omolola Satar, whom she said did not advise his client properly on the matter, Obaseki-Osaghae noted that the action of the institution while the case lasted was a disrespect of the judicial process and the rule of law.

She also directed the Inspector General of Police, Chairmen of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), to commence investigations into the allegations of corruption raised by Mr Ibirogba against the immediate past management of the college, which had led to his sack.

Justice Obaseki-Osaghae, who ordered the council of the institution to pay Ibirogba all his accrued benefits, directed that this should be done within 30 days, or the monies would attract the interest of 10 per cent.

The judge had ruled: “I find that there was a calculated deliberate attempt by the defendants to subvert the cause and administration of justice. This is one of the instances the Court must grant punitive costs to forestall a repeat of the contemptuous actions of the defendants. Consequently, I award the sum of N20, 000, 000 as punitive damages, jointly and severally against the defendants for the unjust termination of the claimant’s appointment and deliberate attempt by the defendants, to subvert the cause of justice.”

When contacted by Nigerian Tribune, the management of the polytechnic said it was still trying to secure the details of the judgment, and that until then it would not be able to comment further on the matter.

The college’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Ndubueze Ejiofor, told Nigerian Tribune that the legal department was working towards getting the details of the judgment and that as soon as that is done, the college would know, what to do next.

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