Court Declares Employment Termination On ‘Services No Longer Required’ As Wrongful, Awards Compensation Against Bank

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The Presiding Judge, Portharcourt Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Faustina Kola-Olalere has declared the termination of Mr. Godwin Biragbara’s employment by Unity Bank Plc on the ground that his ‘services are no longer required’ as wrongful.

The Court ordered the Unity Bank to pay Mr. Godwin gross salaries and allowances for six months as compensation with the sum of N400,000.00 (Four Hundred Thousand Naira) cost of action within 30 days.

Justice Kola-Olalere held that the termination of Mr. Godwin Biragbara’s employment by the Unity Bank was not in line with the terms and conditions of his employment.

From facts, the claimant- Mr. Godwin Biragbara had submitted that prior to the termination of his appointment, he applied for a three (3) days casual leave which was approved by his supervisor and upon his resumption of duty, he was queried on alleged abscondment from Duty and misconduct.

He stated that his employment termination was not in line with the law and the terms and conditions of the Bank’s Employee Handbook.

In defense, the defendant- Unity Bank averred that the termination of Mr. Godwin’s employment is lawful and that his contention that he was purportedly granted leave orally by his supervisor who later gave him a query on the same issue is a calculated attempt to deceive the Court.

The learned counsel to the Bank submitted that Mr. Godwin has failed to prove his case against the Bank as alleged and urged the Court to dismiss the case with substantial cost and grant the counter-claim.

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In opposition, Counsel to the claimant, S. K. Asuru Esq submitted that there is no evidence from the Bank of frequent absenteeism from duty against his client and no evidence that he appeared before the Disciplinary Committee or Executives Management Committee before the purported termination of his employment.

Counsel further argued that the Unity Bank’s counterclaim was filed out of time without the leave of the Court, and so the process goes to no issue, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.

In reply, the defendant submitted that the Court being a Court of justice has the inherent power to regularize the counterclaim processes filed in the interest of justice as the era of striking out of pleadings on technical mistakes and irregularities has gone, urged the court to grant the sum of N215,527.44 only as the balance of Mr. Godwin indebtedness to the Bank and for payment of the sum of N5,000,000.00 only as cost of action.

Delivering the judgment after careful evaluation of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Kola-Olalere excused the error of the Unity Bank’s counsel in not regularizing the processes in line with the provision of the Court Civil Procedure Rules and directed by the Bank to pay the default fee to the Court registry.

Justice Kola-Olalere held that Mr. Godwin’s employment was not determined for absconding from duty and for alleged misconduct, but was determined for ‘Services No longer required’ as clearly stated in the termination letter.

The Court held that Unity Bank failed to satisfy the Court that it followed the Guidelines enumerated in its Handbook in determining Mr. Godwin’s employment.

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“The present labour standard globally is to ensure that at least an employment is determined on cogent reason(s) related to the performance of the employee’s duties, just like the content of Exhibit C.7 stipulates.

“Based on all the reasoning above, I hold that the termination of the claimant’s employment by the defendant on the ground that his ‘services are no longer required’ and nothing more, is wrongful.

“Consequently, I find and hold that the claimant, having admitted that he is owing the defendant, a balance sum of N215,527.44; the defendant is entitled to this counter-claim from the claimant. I hereby direct the claimant to pay the said sum of N215,527.44 to the defendant as the balance of his indebtedness to the defendant.” The Court ruled.

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