Mrs Obayan, whose cause of death remains unknown, was until her last breath, the Director of Covenant University’s Africa Leadership Development Centre (ALDC).
The late lecturer lost her husband, Adetokunbo Obayan, less than two years ago. Mr Obayan, a leadership trainer, management consultant and founder of Adetokunbo Obayan and Associates, died of an undisclosed ailment on August 15, 2017.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt from reliable sources at the university that the late lecturer had not been active on the campus since October 2018, when she led her centre to hold its fourth Covenant-International Conference on African Development Issues (C-ICADI). The conference featured former Malawian President, Joyce Banda, as keynote speaker.
Mrs Obayan died less than one year after winning her prolonged case at the Supreme Court against her former employer- University of Ilorin, over what she consistently described as her unjust dismissal in September 1999.
Her death, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, had thrown the entire university campus, and the close circle of the popular pastor and Bishop of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, David Oyedepo, into mourning.
Life and times of Mrs Obayan
Born on March 4, 1960, to the family of Sir and Lady Frank Imouokhome in Edo State, Mrs Obayan attended St. Andrews, Scotland, for her “A” Levels and later gained admission to the University of Benin for a B. Ed (English) degree from 1979 to 1982.
She attended the University of Ilorin, Kwara State for her Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Guidance and Counselling. And upon completion of her programmes, she started her career as an Assistant Lecturer at the same university in 1986 and rose through the ranks to become a Reader in 1995.
Between 1996 and 1999, Mrs Obayan was on sabbatical at the University of Roehampton, United Kingdom as a Senior Lecturer in Counselling Psychology. On her return to Nigeria, the University of Ilorin’s management sacked her, saying she overstayed in UK. She, however, challenged the decision at the Federal High Court, Ilorin, insisting she got the approval of the management of the university for her time in the UK.
The Federal High Court, in its judgment, dismissed her case, following which she appealed to the Court of Appeal, who, in judgment on March 10, 2005, reversed the decision of the High Court and voided her sack.
The university and its Governing Council, through the then Vice-Chancellor, Abdulraheem Oba, appealed the judgement at the Supreme Court.
But, in its judgment delivered on February 2, 2018, 19 years after filing the case at the high court, the Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal, granting the lecturer a victory.
The Supreme Court also held that the Court of Appeal properly invoked estoppel by conduct in favour of the respondent as stipulated by section 169 (formerly Section 151 of Evidence Act).
The court faulted the manner her employment was terminated and held that the respondent was denied fair hearing by the appellants in their decision to terminate her employment.
Justice Akaahs said, in the lead judgement: “I find that this appeal is totally devoid of any merits and it is accordingly dismissed.
“I further affirm the judgment of the lower court delivered on March 10, 2005, which ordered the respondents (now appellants) to reinstate and restore the plaintiff to her post as a lecturer and Reader in the Department of Guardian and Counselling of the university and to restore to her all rights, entitlements and other perquisites of that office and to pay her salaries, allowances and other entitlements from September 1999 to date.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the plaintiff is still in the service of the University of Ilorin. I assess the cost of this needless and vexatious litigation forced on the respondent at N500, 000 in favour of the respondent and against the appellants.”
Meanwhile, while the case against the University of Ilorin lasted, Mrs Obayan was appointed to the Chair in counselling and as Pioneer Head of Department of Human Resource Development at Covenant University.
In July 2003, she was appointed the Dean of the former College of Human Development now part of the College of Development Studies. In October 2004, she became the Coordinator of the University’s School of Postgraduate Studies.