Eighteen years after she was sacked by the University of Ilorin Governing Council, the Supreme Court has set aside the 1999 sack of Mrs. Aize Imonokhome Obayan (now a professor) as a lecturer and reader in the Department of Guidance and Counselling, University of Ilorin.
The apex court, in a unanimous judgment by a five-man panel, led by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, dismissed the appeal by the university, its Governing Council, Tunde Balogun (listed as the registrar) and Prof. Shuaib Oba Abdulraheem (listed as vice chancellor) for lacking merit.
The court upheld the argument by Obayan’s lawyer, John Baiyeshea (SAN); accepted the March 10, 2005 judgment given in her favour by the Court of Appeal and ordered that she be restored to her office and paid salaries, allowances and other entitlements from September 1999 (when she was sacked) to date.
The Supreme Court, in its lead judgment delivered on February 2 by Justice Kumai Bayang Akaahs, upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal, particularly its finding that the University of Ilorin failed to prove that it delivered to her its letter dated March 25, 1999, refusing her request for four month’s extension of her leave of absence.
Obayan, Vice Chancellor of the Landmark University and ex-Vice Chancellor of Covenant University, was employed as a lecturer in 1986 in the Department of Guardian and counseling of the University of Ilorin.
She applied in 1997 for sabbatical leave, which was approved by the institution’s Appointment and Promotion Committee. She then proceeded to the School of Psychology and Counselling, Rose Hampton Institute, London for further studies.
She later got her employer’s permission for another one year’s leave of absence.
At the expiration of the one year’s leave of absence, she again applied for a four-month extension of her leave, which the institution claimed to have rejected via a letter dated March 25, 1999, which she denied receiving.
On her resumption on September 1, 1999, the institution wrote her a letter dated September 22, 1999 informing her that she had voluntarily terminated her appointment with University of Ilorin “for failing to report for work after the expiration of the additional one-year leave of absence,” a decision she challenged at the Federal High Court, Ilorin.
The Federal High Court, in its judgment, dismissed her case, following which she appealed to the Court of Appeal, which, in a judgment on March 10, 2005, reversed the decision of the High Court and voided her sack, a decision the university, its Governing Council, Balogun, and Abdulraheem appealed to the Supreme Court.