The National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Lagos Division has nullified the Bank of Industry (BoI)’s purported sack of its Assistant General Manager, Mr. Sonny Ekedayen.
Justice R. H. Gwandu set aside the termination letter issued by BoI to Ekedayen and ordered the bank to reinstate Ekedayen “forthwith and his salaries and allowances paid from the date of the purported termination…
“Failure to pay same will be treated as contempt of this Honorable Court’s Order and will attract a 10 per cent per annum interest until it is fully liquidated.”
The judge gave the orders in a December 8 judgment in suit NICN/LA/569/2015 filed by Ekedayen as the sole claimant against BoI’s Managing Director, Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa and BoI as first and second defendants respectively.
The Claimant’s case, which he canvassed through his counsel, Abimbola Akeredolu, SAN (Mrs), was that he is an Assistant General Manager in BoI and has been in BoI’s employment since February 14, 2003.
He was 50 years old and had only served for 12 years in BoI as of November 20, 2015, when the 1st Defendant Olaoluwa, without just cause or lawful authority ordered him to resign his employment with BoI or proceed on voluntary early retirement therefrom, on the basis that he (the 1st Defendant) could no longer work with the Claimant.
He contended that this contravened his Employment Contract and Conditions of Service which provide that the compulsory retirement age for every BoI employee is sixty 60 years or thirty-five (35) years in service
He averred that he was neither 60 years old nor had he attained 35 years of service in the employment of the 2 Defendant as of November 20, 2015, when he was asked to resign.
By an Amended Statement of Facts dated and filed on May 30, 2019, the Claimant sought the following reliefs jointly and severally, against the 1 and 2 Defendants:
“A declaration that the 1st Defendant has no right and/or power to compel and/or force the Claimant to either resign from his employment with BoI or proceed on voluntary early retirement therefrom.
“A declaration that the Defendants have no right and/or power to dismiss and/or terminate the Claimant’s appointment with the 2nd Defendant except in accordance with the provisions of the Claimant’s Employment Contract and Conditions of Service.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st Defendant from compelling and/or forcing the Claimant to either resign from his employment with the 2nd Defendant or proceed on voluntary early retirement therefrom
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants from dismissing and/or terminating the Claimant’s appointment with the 2nd Defendant except in accordance with the provisions of the Claimant’s Employment Contract and Conditions of Service.”
Granting the reliefs, Justice Gwandu held that forcing an employee to resign is “a gross misuse of power and position, a vagrant display of superiority and most of all an infringement on the Claimants rights as guaranteed under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.”
Specifically, the judge held: “I hereby hold that the Claimant’s first relief succeeds. The 1st Defendant is not in any position to direct or force the resignation of any staff, if they must do so, it should be of their own volition, or the company’s internal mechanism has to come into play, this relief is granted accordingly.”
On the Claimant’s relief for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st Defendant from compelling and/or forcing the Claimant to either resign from his employment with the 2nd Defendant or proceed on voluntary early retirement therefrom, the judge said:
“I hereby restrain the 1st Defendant from further misusing his powers as Managing Director of the 2nd Defendant, he is to also refrain from attempting to force the Claimant to resign his employment with the 2nd Defendant and must not do anything either directly or indirectly that will affect the Claimants employment negatively. This relief succeeds and is granted.
The judge added that “any termination/dismissal must be in accordance with the contract and conditions of service, it must also not be seen that the Claimant is victimized as a result of this Lawsuit, any action to this effect will be treated as contempt of this Court’s Order and dealt with accordingly.