Industrial Court Dismisses Case Against Akwa-Ibom State University For Filling Out Of Time

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Uyo – The Presiding Judge, National Industrial Court of Nigeria, sitting in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State, His Lordship, Hon. Justice M. A. Namtari, on Tuesday 19th March 2019 in a judgment dismissed in its entirety the case filed by Mr. Aniekan Jacob Udofa (claimant) against Akwa Ibom State University (defendant) for being statute barred in accordance with Public Officers’ Protection Law, Laws of Akwa Ibom State, 2000.

The court held that any action that is instituted after the period stipulated by the statute is totally-barred and the right of action would have been completely extinguished.

The Claimant who was an ex- staff in the security unit of the Defendant had his employment terminated vide a letter dated 9th May 2017. Not satisfied and believing that the termination was wrongful, filed a complaint on 5th April 2018 sought against defendant among others; A Declaration that the claimant is still in the employ of the defendant and that his appointment as Patrolman Supervisor was wrongfully terminated by the defendant.

Likewise, An Order for reinstatement and payment of all outstanding salaries to date and continuing.

on 11th July 2018, the Defendants filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit on the grounds that the Defendant, a public institution of higher learning, is a public officer and by Section 1 (1) of the Public Officers’ Protection Law, Laws of Akwa Ibom State, 2000, any action for any act, neglect or default complained against a public officer, ought to be commenced within 3 months next after the act complained of, that the Claimant’s action was commenced more than 3 months after the cause of action arose.

In opposing this application, the Claimant argued that Akwa Ibom State University is not a public servant or public officer but an educational institution and a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal that Pubic Officers Protection Law not applicable to the instant case urged the court to dismiss the preliminary objection.

After careful analysis of all the processes filed, and the submissions of the learned Counsel from both sides. The Court presided by Hon. Justice M. A. Namtari expressed thus;

“It is my considered view that the Defendant is a public officer within the meaning of section 1 (1) of the Public Officers Protection Law, Cap. 104, Vol. 5, Laws of Akwa Ibom State. So any invitation to hold otherwise is tantamount to judicial impertinence which is not my portion.”

The court held that the date of accrual date of action is 12th May, 2017 and by the purpose of limitation law, time begins to run from the moment the cause of action arose or accrued, that the period is about 12 months and therefore caught by the limitation law of Akwa Ibom State.

“On the whole, I find and hold that this suit is statute-barred and hereby dismissed.” His Lordship ruled.

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