His Lordship, Hon. Justice Zaynab Bashir of the National Industrial Court, Portharcourt Judicial division has ordered NPF Pensions Ltd to compute and pay Mr. Ajogwu Ikechukwu 3-months’ salaries he was wrongfully suspended and 2018 end of year bonus within 10 days; and awarded the sum of N1,000,000.00 against the firm for general damages.
However, the court held that the summary termination of the Ikechukwu employment was not wrongful nor in breach of the contract of employment executed between them.
From facts, the claimant– Ajogwu Ikechukwu had submitted that the conduct for which he was suspended occurred outside the work environment and is not work-related and further that he was on leave when the said conduct occurred that after serving the suspension without pay, three days after resumption his employment was terminated without payment of his emolument, sought for the sum of N53,795,534.25 as Exit hand shake/gratuity upon retirement in 2041 among others.
In defense, the Defendants- NPF Pensions Ltd added that Ikechukwu was queried and the committee found that he left his duty post and travelled without permission and upon the recommendation of the Committee, Ikechukwu was suspended in line with the firm Policy on Employees’ conduct and Work Rules.
In addition, the firm averred that while the Claimant was on suspension, a letter was received from the Headquarters requesting for the release of the Claimant but the Claimant failed to honour the invitation and when he was told to resume at the Head office, he refused, demanded a memo of transfer be issued and relocation allowance be paid before he would report.
The firm averred that sequel to the above narration, Ikechukwu was summarily dismissed, urged the court to dismiss the case.
In opposition, Ikechukwu's counsel posited that his client was not issued a notice of termination, and was not paid any exit handshake or any other money whatsoever upon the termination of his appointment, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering the judgment via virtual proceeding, the presiding Judge, Justice Zaynab Bashir held that the suspension of the Ajokwu Ikechukwu was wrongful for being predicated on conduct or affair that is not work-related and cannot be inimical to the image or business interest of the firm.
Justice Zaynab further held that Ikechukwu's insistence on being paid allowance before he could honour the headquarters invitation was a misapprehension as he considered the directive to resume at the Head office to mean that he had been transferred whereas he was merely asked to report.
“Upon the foregoing and in consideration of the evidence before the court, it is the irresistible conclusion of this court that the summary termination of the Claimant’s employment was not wrongful and issue two is accordingly resolved in favour of the Defendants.” Justice Zaynab