Hon. Justice Ikechi Nweneka of the Lagos Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has declared that Mr. Ademola Opaleye breached the training bond agreement dated 29th June 2015 with his former employer Overland Airways Limited and also failed to give the requisite notice or pay the salary in lieu of notice before his resignation.
The Court declared that Mr. Ademola Opaleye can only validly terminate his contract of employment with Overland Airways Limited by giving the Claimant three months' notice or three months' salary in lieu of notice, ordered him and his surety to pay Overland Airways Limited the sum of N420,577.99 [Four Hundred and Twenty Thousand, Five Hundred and Seventy-Seven Naira, Ninety-Nine kobo] being the agreed three months' salary in lieu of notice, N937,862 [Nine Hundred and Thirty-Seven Thousand, Eight Hundred and Sixty-Two Naira] compensation for breach of the training bond, and N500,000 [Five Hundred Thousand Naira] cost of action.
From facts, the claimant- Overland Airways Limited had submitted that it executed a Training Bond Agreement dated 29th June 2015 to sponsor Mr. Ademola Opaleye for the relevant course in consideration of his remaining in its employment for a minimum period of 60 months after the training or pay the sum of N2,000,000 [Two Million Naira] as the training cost.
The company added that Mr. Opaleye resigned his employment and failed to give the required three months’ notice of termination of his employment, or pay the three months’ salary in lieu of notice.
The company averred that Mr. Amoo guaranteed the bond and undertook to pay the full sum in the event Mr. Opaleye defaults in his agreement, and the Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of Police, Air Wing are sued for inducing breach of the employment contract between Mr. Ademola Opaleye and the Airline by continuing to employ him after being informed of his outstanding obligations to the firm.
In defense, the 1st defendant- Mr. Ademola Opaleye maintained that he is not owing Overland Airways any amount as claimed since he was not given the opportunity to understand the training bond and the training offered him by the airline is not relevant to his employment with the Nigeria Police which does not operate similar aircraft, and he was employed by the Police Service Commission not the Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of Police, Air Wing. He said the action is misconceived, frivolous and vexatious and urged the Court to dismiss it.
Counsel to the 3rd and 4th Defendants- Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of Police, Air Wing averred that his clients are not proper parties to the suit, argued that Mr. Opaleye being a senior Police officer was appointed by the Police Service Commission which ought to have been sued and from the 1st Defendant’s evidence, he was not induced by the 3rd and 4th Defendants to breach his contract with the Claimant, urged the court to dismiss the suit against them.
Continuing, learned counsel argued that the training bond agreement is unreasonable and unenforceable against Mr. Opaleye as there was no existing employment relationship between the airline when the bond was signed.
Delivering the judgment after careful evaluation of the submissions of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Ikechi Nweneka held that the Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of Police, Air Wing are not proper parties to this suit and Mr. Opaleye breached his contract with Overland Airways Limited in failing to give the requisite notice or pay the salary in lieu of notice.
Justice Nweneka held that there was in existence a contract of employment between Overland Airways Limited and Mr. Opaleye when the bond was executed, and Mr. Opaleye’s allegation that he signed the training bond under duress and was not afforded time to read it is false, baseless and an afterthought aimed at avoiding his obligations under the bond.
The Court stated that for a training bond to be enforceable it must be reasonable with reference to the interest of the parties and the public, and held that to require Mr. Opalye to pay the bond sum of N2,000,000 without regard to the period he has served the airline and the fact that the total amount spent on the training was for six trainees will not be fair in the circumstance.
Justice Nweneka held that bonding Mr. Ademola Opaleye for a period of five years for an investment that is less than $2,000 is unreasonable, and that Overland Airways Limited is entitled to compensation for the amount paid as course fees for Mr. Opaleye’s training and related expenses.
Visit the judgment portal for full details