The Presiding Judge, Uyo judicial division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Mahmud Namtari has ordered the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Akwa Ibom State Governor and its Attorney General to pay Senior Lecturer and Head of Department of Estate Management, Rev. Enobong Bassey the sum of N21.3m as salaries and entitlements from 1st December, 2009 to July, 2018.
The Court declared that it is unconscionable for the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic to employ the services and expertise of Rev. Enobong Bassey and refused to pay his salaries and entitlements; and awarded the sum of N1,359,190.00 being Rev. Bassey’s salary for one year as damages.
Justice Namtari ordered that all payments awarded against Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Akwa Ibom State Governor and its Attorney General in favour of Rev. Enobong Bassey be paid within 30 days.
From facts, the Claimant- Rev. Enobong Bassey had submitted that he was offered an appointment as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Estate Management of the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic on 27th November 2009, and while awaiting patiently and hoping for the payment of the salaries and entitlement, he continued to dutifully discharge his functions as the Head of Department and was found to be diligent and dutiful as can be seen in the Minutes of Meeting of the Academic Board of 1st March 2017 and 16th March 2017.
Rev. Enobong Bassey averred that despite several appeals and entreaties to all the relevant authorities, his salaries and other entitlements remained unpaid till date, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
However, all efforts by both parties to reach an amicable settlement out of court were not successful, and the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic and 2 others failed to file defence to the suit.
The Counsel to Rev. Bassey argued that the failure of the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic and State Governemnt to call evidence in defence is a presumption that they accepted the evidence adduced against them, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
In a well-considered judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Namtari reiterated that lack of evidence or defence per se does not guarantee automatic victory to Rev. Bassey that evidence does not become credible merely because it is unchallenged, and it is still incumbent on Rev. Bassey to adduce credible evidence to prove his case, albeit, on minimum proof.
The Court stated that Rev. Bassey has proved his entitlement to the satisfaction of the court and held that Rev. Bassey’s appointment as Acting Head of Department dated 11th February 2013 and letter of Commendation dated 3rd October 2017, tendered in evidence as Exhibits are to the effect that Rev. Bassey’s employment was still subsisting during the period under review, and his entitled to the claim of the sum of N21,380,723.60 as salaries and entitlements from 1st December 2009 to July 2018.