The Presiding Judge of the Awka Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice John Targema has dismissed the reinstatement claim filed by Mrs. Mabel Uzoegbo against the Attorney General, Minister of Science and Technology, National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, and Electronic Development Institute for lacking merit.
The Court held that the actions of the Mrs Mabel display an acceptance of her compulsory retirement that her claim of collecting terminal benefits under duress has not been validated or proven by credible evidence to merit any consideration.
From facts, the claimant- Mrs. Mabel Uzoegbo had submitted that her purported retirement from Electronic Development Institute was unlawful, null, and void that she was made to collect computed retirement benefits under duress.
She maintained that her compulsory retirement or removal from service was against the laid down laws as contained in the Statute that established the agency, urged the Honourable Court to grant the reliefs sought.
In defense, the defendants submitted that Mrs. Mabel was in total breach of her terms of appointment and unfortunately was also falls within the criteria for the right-sizing policy of the Federal government and was therefore retired in line with the extant rules while her benefits were calculated and fully paid to her, questioned whether she cashed the Cheque under duress, urged the Court to dismiss entire claims for lacking merit.
In opposition, Mabel’s counsel, K.B. Ette with A.O. Oraezueme submitted that mere acceptance of salary in lieu of notice by the employee cannot validate the void act of the employment termination done contrary to the stipulation of the law and set down rules.
Delivering judgment after careful evaluation of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice John Targema held that the act of summary dismissal/compulsory retirement must be done within the law by the appropriate authority under the Pension Act.
Justice Targema further held that once an employee accepts payment after his employment is terminated, it is late in the day for him to complain that his employment was not properly determined.
“The claimant accepted this and lived with it for three months before she decided to contest her retirement in Court. The claimant cannot eat her cake and have it. I do not accordingly see how the retirement of the claimant was wrongful.
“Having considered the facts of this case, the law, and evidence adduced by both parties, I am satisfied that the claimant’s retirement was lawful. I so hold.” Justice Targema Ruled.
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