Court declares employment termination of Bank Deputy Manager as Wrongful, awards N12.5m damages
The Presiding Judge, Uyo Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Mahmood Namtari has declared the employment termination of Deputy Manager Nsikak Tom from the Service of Suntrust Bank Nigeria Ltd via a letter dated 14th May 2021 as illegal, wrongful and null and void.
The Court ordered Suntrust Bank Nigeria Ltd to pay Nsikak Tom the sum of N12.5 Million (Twelve Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira Only) being his total Annual Monetized Salary per annum as damages within 30 days.
Justice Namtari held that Suntrust Bank failed to prove the poor performance of Nsikak Tom that led to his employment termination to the satisfaction of the court and the salary in lieu of notice was not paid simultaneously with the letter of termination.
From facts, the claimant- Nsikak Tom had submitted that he was employed as a Business Development Manager, Deputy Manager Grade Level with the title of Branch Manager at the Suntrust Bank Office, Uyo and alleged that his employment termination did not conform with the provisions of the Employees’ Handbook, 2019.
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He further averred that the allegation of poor performance was merely cooked up by the bank to unlawfully terminate his appointment.
In defence, the Defendant- Suntrust Bank Nigeria Ltd reiterated that Nsikak’s employment was lawfully terminated and since he has already received his salary in lieu of notice and other earned entitlements as contained in his letter of employment, granting the reliefs for the payment of salary in lieu of notice and/or any other entitlements will amount to double compensation, urged the court to dismiss the case.
In opposition, learned Counsel to Nsikak, Godwin Effiong maintained that his client was not given fair hearing by the Bank before his employment was summarily terminated, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought in full.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Mahmood Namtari held that Suntrust Bank Nigeria Ltd failed to prove the poor performance of Nsikak to the satisfaction of the court and that his performance can only be measured by the tasks assigned to him or the target set for him.
Justice Namtari ruled that where the contract of service gives a party a right of termination of the employment by either giving a particular length of notice or salary in lieu of notice, the party seeking to put an end to the contract must pay to the other party the salary in lieu of notice at the time of termination of the contract.
The Court held that the termination of Nsikak’s employment was wrongful on the fact that the salary in lieu of notice was not paid simultaneously with the letter of termination.
On the claim for Salaries and allowance from May 2021 till judgment, the court held that Nsikak did not bring any document to prove entitlement to the claims not to talk of proving the quantum of the allowance listed, and the consequence is that the Claimant is not entitled to reliefs sought.