By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
Justice Opeloye Ogunbowale of the National Industrial Court, Ibadan Division, on Tuesday, awarded the cost of N55,000 against BOWEN University for not filing their processes properly and serving same on the plaintiffs, following another adjournment in the suit brought by some staff of the institution who were sacked during the pandemic.
The suit, which was slated for hearing could not proceed after counsel to BOWEN University, K.W. Bankole, moved a motion for adjournment, to enable him file counter-affidavit to new issues raised.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, Ibrahim Kareem Ojo, did not oppose the motion, but he prayed the court to award N50,000 each over the 11 cases of same matter pending before the court.
Ojo argued that the court had granted the application for ammendment in its ruling of November 2, 2021, adding that the new application brought by the defendant was filed on February 25, 2022, while the subsequent affidavit has not been filed till date.
“From July last year, they have been stalling this matter. They brought an application dated February 25 and filed same day. We won’t oppose the application but we would be asking for N50,000 cost on 11 cases of same matter pending before the court.
“They didn’t file anything in furtherance of their application. The learned should go and put his house in order,” Ojo said.
But Bankole in his reply said the order for adjournment he sought was not in respect of further counter affidavit but in respect of the ammended application filed last year.
He said:” We are talking of same amendment we filed last year but they are thinking we want to file a new amendment.
“They filed a further affidavit to our counter-affidavit which raised new issues that need to be properly addressed.”
Ruling, Justice Ogunbowale said since counsel to the plaintiffs didn’t oppose the motion for adjournment, she had no choice than to adjourn the matter.
She adjourned hearing in the suit to May 31, 2022, and awarded N5000 each to the 11 plaintiffs in the matter.
The suit was filed by some staff of BOWEN University, Iwo, who were sacked because the institution said it wants to “introduce collegiate system and reorganisation attached to it.”
In December 2019, and June 2020, 147 staff were laid off by the varsity without paying their entitlements and benefits.This prompted some of the disengaged staff to file a suit at the National Industrial Court in July 2021.
They claimed that most of them were pioneer staff of the institution and are therefore entitled to entitlements and benefits.
Speaking after the court session, one of the affected staff who pleaded anonymity, said the institution’s claim that the collegiate system and the organisation attached to it warranted their disengagement was false.
“NUC is yet to approve the said collegiate system the institution was claiming,” he said.
He lamented that some of the affected staffs were already at the peak of their careers, while others were approaching retirement age.
“We felt cheated and we want justice because the process of our disengagement was illegal, our letters of appointments was till our retirement,” he added.