His Lordship, Hon. Justice I. S. Galadima of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, sitting in Owerri, on Thursday 7th February 2019 in a judgment declared the employment termination of WARMATE OGBEGBE (claimant) as wrongful, ordered DUFIL PRIMA FOODS PLC (defendant) to paythe sum of N11,088 as payment of one month’s salary in lieu of notice and the sum of N88,704 only to the Claimant as general damages within 7 days.
This complaint, duly accompanied by other originating processes filed on the 4th of November, 2013 sought against defendant among others; A declaration that the Claimant is still an employee of the Defendant and entitled to all the salaries, allowances, benefits, and entitlements from April 2011 till the date of judgment in this suit. A declaration that the mode and manner in which the Defendant purported to terminate the appointment of the Claimant is crude, offensive, wrongful and unlawful.
Likewise, The sum of Fifty Million Naira (N50,000,000.00) as special and general damages occasioned to the Claimant by the purported wrongful dismissal or termination of his appointment by the Defendant.
The Claimant was employed vide on 20/2/2004. Following a query on absence from work on 16/4/2011, he was refused entry into the Defendant’s factory and his salaries were stopped. It was the Claimant’s contention that his appointment letter together with the Employee Handbook and Code of Conduct &Grievance procedure, he was entitled to have been given one month notice or payment of one-month basic salary in lieu, and that failure to give him such notice would make his termination wrongful.
The Defendant’s address was filed on the 6/12/2018. In it, issues were raised for determination Whether the Claimant’s employment with the Defendant was wrongfully terminated and Whether the Claimant is entitled to the monetary claims in the suit?
Learned Counsel submitted that the reliefs sought on the Complaint were not specifically itemized and pleaded as special damages, and the failure of the claimant to do so, amounts to non-compliance urged to dismiss the said reliefs.
Learned Counsel for the Defendant argued Claimant is indebted to the Defendant to the tune of N589,883.33. It is counsel’s view that with this indebtedness admitted by the Claimant, it requires no further proof. Counsel urged the Court to direct the Claimant to pay the said sum to the Defendant.
After careful evaluation of all the processes filed, and the submissions of the learned Counsel from both sides. The Court presided by Hon. Justice I. S. Galadima expressed thus;
“Apparently, there is no dispute as to the fact that from the day the Claimant has prevented entry into the Defendant’s premises to date, the Claimant actually stopped working for the Defendant and his salaries were stopped.
“Without any doubt in my mind, by preventing the Claimant from working on the 18/4/2011, the Defendant clearly breached the contract of employment entered into with the Claimant. Furthermore, the letter of termination did not give the requisite one month notice stipulated in the parties’ contract.
“Accordingly, I award the sum ofN88,704 (which isN11,088 multiplied by 8 months) as general damages for the wrongful termination of the Claimant’s employment to be paid by the Defendant within 7 days of this judgment.
On Defendant’s assertion for unpaid loan, the court stated that the Defendant did not specifically plead that it was relying on these facts to support a right of counter claim or set-off.
The court declared the termination of the Claimant’s employment as wrongful, ordered Defendant to pay the sum of N11,088 as payment of one month’s salary in lieu of notice and the sum of N88,704 only to the Claimant as general damages within 7 days.