By Emmanuel Olorunsola
The National Industrial Court, Yenagoa Judicial Division, has ordered the management of the Federal University, Otuoke (FUO), Bayelsa State, to reinstate four demoted lecturers of the university.
Justice Bashir Alkali in a judgment on Monday also awarded N20m to the lecturers as damages against the FUO authorities.
The four dons, who were the claimants in the case, are Steve Nwabuzor, Felina Nwadike, Sepribo Lawson-Jack and Evans Eze.
They were among the seven professors whose appointments were re-classified and subsequently downgraded to lecturer and senior lecturer cadres by the university’s Governing Council at its 10th meeting in 2018, citing “lack of requisite scholarship”.
While Nwabuzor was demoted from the rank of professor to lecturer I, associate professors Nwadike, Lawson-Jack and Eze, were downgraded to senior lecturer, lecturer I and lecturer II, respectively.
However, Justice Alkali, in his verdict, ordered that “claimants be reinstated to their full status, privileges and entitlements by the institution.”
He further directed the FUO management to pay them N5m each for defamation and N200, 000 each for cost of litigation.
Mr Okoko Mark, the counsel to the claimants, said he was satisfied that justice had been served to the affected lecturers and that the court granted all the reliefs sought.
He said, “The judgment has been delivered in favour of the claimants, ordering their reinstatement and awarding damages to them. The judgment is to be complied with, within the next 30 days.”