Lagos – His Lordship, Hon. Justice J. D. Peter of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, sitting in Lagos, Lagos State, on Thursday 29th November 2018 in a judgment declared that the employment of Samson Segun Alabi (Claimant) by First Bank of Nigeria Limited (defendant) was lawfully terminated; and claimant not entitled to any retirement benefits as claimed. The court further dismissed the suit in its entirety for lacking merit.
The Claimant sought against defendant among others; A declaration that having put in 21 years 2 weeks of selfness, tireless and meritorious service in the Defendant’s bank and having attained the level of OFFICER – OG 3” in the service, the Claimant having being retired on 30th October, 2007, is entitled to all emoluments which includes (a) incentive (b) gratuity (c) pension and all other benefits as a senior staff of the Defendant. An order that the Claimant’s incentive and gratuity upon retirement shall be based on letter dated 28th May, 2007 titled “New Compensation Package.
Likewise, An order that the Claimant is settled to the balance of the Pension benefits based on his contribution for Nineteen and half (19½) years which is still with the Defendant.
The case of the Claimant as revealed from his evidence in chief and pleadings filed is that he was employed by Defendant in 1986 and worked for defendant for twenty-one (21) years, that his Department received an “appraisal fallout and the Department through the Branch Manager of the Defendant replies same in a memo and was given first warning/notice; that through the Branch of the Defendant explained the cause of the fall in performance of the Department; that his employment was purportedly terminated via a letter dated 30/10/07 with no specific reason was given on the face of the termination letter.
The case of the Defendant is that the Claimant was its former staff whose employment was terminated; that salary in lieu of notice was paid to him in addition to part of his outstanding entitlements and pensions which were applied to offset his indebtedness which arose from loans he took while in the employment of the Defendant that the Claimant has not contested the indebtedness.
Claimant came back to the Defendant and requested that his letter of termination of employment be replaced with a letter of retirement; that based on his long epistle replete with woes that could befall him with the said letter of termination, the Defendant on compassionate ground issued him with a letter merely stating that they accepted his retirement.
Under cross examination, the witness stated that there is nothing like retirement on compassionate ground in the Defendant Handbook.
The defendant further submitted that after the termination of the employment of the Claimant, the Claimant was never re-engaged as provided by the Defendant's Employee Handbook.
The claimant expressed that the Defendant failed to abide by the provision of the handbook on Non-performance, that the Claimant upon retirement is entitled to one year total emolument which as at October 2007 stood at =N=2,756,478.63, that gratuity entitlement stood at =N=828,056.89
After careful analysis of all the processes filed, and the submissions of the learned Counsel from both sides. The Court presided by Hon. Justice J. D. Peters expressed thus;
“There is evidence to the effect that Termination was served on and received by the Claimant. Until it is withdrawn, it remains effective for all intents and purposes.
“There is no evidence that it was ever retrieved or withdrawn by the Defendant. Unfortunately, that letter was not placed before me. But even if it had been exhibited, it could not have successfully replaced the letter terminating the employment of the Claimant.
“I have sufficient evidence before me to hold and I do that the employment of the Claimant was lawfully terminated; that the letter of termination served on and received by him was not withdrawn and that he is not entitled to any retirement benefits as claimed.
“It is for the Claimant to inform the Court of how much loan he took, how much of same he has paid and how much outstanding. The Defendant has informed the Court of how it used the terminal entitlement of the Claimant to part defray his loan indebtedness. A Court of law cannot make an order in vacuum. I decline to make the order sought for lack of sufficient evidence.” Justice Dele Peters Ruled.
In all, the court dismissed the suit in its entirety for lack of proof.