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Court orders reinstatement of Nigerian university lecturers accused of plagiarism

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-Agency reports

‎A court has ordered the reinstatement of two lecturers of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, who were dismissed three years ago for alleged plagiarism.
The National Industrial Court sitting in Lagos declared the termination of their appointments as wrongful, unlawful, null and void.

The lecturers, Janet Bamgbose and Akeem Bamigbade, both of Chemistry Department, were sacked on May 2013 after an investigation and disciplinary committee recommended their dismissal which was upheld by the governing council.
‎However, Justice John Peters while delivering judgement in a suit number NICN/LA/371/013 brought before the industrial court by the defendants said the sack was contrary to the procedure of staff discipline outlined in Section 18 of the Federal University of Agriculture Act, Cap F22, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Mr. Peters also held that the final decision of the university council, following the consideration of the report of the disciplinary committee was in breach of principle of natural justice and fair hearing.
The industrial court also declared that the claimants were denied fair hearing by the university in the procedure that led to the termination of their appointments.
‎The judge ordered the university to pay the affected staff their salaries and allowances from May 2013 till date with 15 per cent interest rate per annum.

The judgement also slammed N2.4 million compensation and cost of the suit on the university, to be paid jointly to the claimants.
‎Mr. Peters held that no query was issued on Mr. Bamigbade on the allegation brought against him, stressing that it was against the provision of Section 18 of the Federal University of Agriculture Act.
The industrial court also faulted the composition of the investigation panel that looked into the allegations against the lecturers, saying it was not properly constituted.

“I further declare that the Claimants were denied fair hearing in the procedure leading to the termination of their appointment by the Defendant, I order their reinstatement immediately and payment to them their salaries from May 2013 till the day of judgement,” a copy of the judgement seen by PREMIUM TIMES showed.
“That there is more to the allegation against the Claimants rather than the issue of plagiarism levelled against the Claimant giving the speed at which the termination of appointment was celebrated in the media without waiting for opportunity of appeal as enshrined in the University Act.”
In the certified true copy of the judgement dated December 9, 2016, the judge also said the ruling must be complied with within 30 days.

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