The Presiding Judge, Portharcourt Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Faustina Kola-Olalere has declared the employment termination of Mrs. Olufunke Sogbesan as wrongful, ordered UNAAB Microfinance Bank Limited to pay six months’ full salary in lieu of notice, and 18 months’ salary for general damages within 60 days.
The Court held that the termination of the Olufunke employment on ‘Restructuring and Reorganization’ is not of compliance with the terms and conditions of her employment.
From facts, the claimant- Olufunke Sogbesan had averred that she was a former employee of the UNAAB Microfinance Bank Ltd owned and operated by the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta for a period of over 13 years with an unblemished record, that termination of her employment on the ground of restructuring and re-organization was contrary to the terms and conditions of her employment, submitted that she is entitled to be re-instated with the payment of all her accrued salaries, benefits and emoluments.
Learned counsel to Olufunke, Chinyere Stella Ogu (Mrs.), Oluwaseyi Olawumi (Mrs.)& Akeem Ijadu-Ola including Kehinde Olawumi had submitted that claimant is not liable to pay any staff loan to the Bank as Counter-Claimed that having frustrated the loan agreement by unlawfully terminating her employment thereby blocked her source of repayment of the loan that the Bank cannot turn around and demand for same, and further that the Claimant should be paid all her gratuity and will have more than sufficient fund to offset the balance of the said loan.
In defence, the defendants' counsel E. Sarah Mark (Mrs.) submitted that the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta is merely a co-owner of the Microfinance Bank that the claimant’s claim for monetization of 70 working days leave is not grantable because the relief is not provided for in the Bank Handbook neither is it provided for in the claimant’s letter of employment.
To the defendants’ counsel; counsel to the claimant did not refer to any document before the court on how he arrived at the gratuity calculations that it is not the duty of the court to go on a voyage of speculation and not entitle to reinstatement urged the Court to so hold.
Delivering judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Kola-Olalere held that since Olufunke had accepted 2nd appointment without any complaint as ‘Offer of Permanent Appointment’ that the Microfinance Bank had completely taken over the appointment of the claimant from the University, struck out the name of University from the case.
“Furthermore, apart from her letter of 1st appointment that was issued by the 2nd defendant, nothing else links the claimant with the University. Her salaries were not paid by the University even her specific reliefs as endorsed on her complaint and pleaded in paragraph 27 of the Amended Statement of Facts are against the 1st defendant only, the claimant has no specific claim against the 2nd defendant.
“In the circumstances, I find and hold that the termination of the claimant’s employment on ‘Restructuring and Reorganization’ is not of compliance with the terms and conditions of her employment; it is, therefore, wrongful.
“Consequently, I hold that the claimant is entitled to payment of her six months’ full salary in lieu of notice in accordance with the terms of her employment. I direct that this is to be computed with the claimant’s last salary for October 2013 before her employment was determined on November 15, 2013.
“I further hold that since the claimant could not justify her claim for the monetization of the said accumulated 70days leave from the agreement between the parties, she is not entitled to the claim and the monetization of ₦338,176.77relief is accordingly dismissed.
“In the present labour jurisprudence, justice of this situation demands that more compensation in form of general damages should be paid to the claimant in this situation to ameliorate the loss of her job due to no fault of hers as required by the parties’ terms of employment. Even though this damage cannot be specifically calculated, it will be computed in the opinion of a reasonable man.
Justice Kola-Olalere also ordered the claimant to pay UNAAB Microfinance Bank the indebted sum of N244,894.35 balance of money received as a loan and declined interest claim that the agreed interest by parties on the loan is not known to the Court.