IN THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE PORT-HARCOURT JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT PORT-HARCOURT
BEFORE HIS LORDSHIP HON. JUSTICE F. I. KOLA-OLALERE FCIArb (UK)
Date: May 12, 2022 Suit No: NICN/YEN/208/2016
(Suing through his Lawful Attorney ------------------------- Claimant
1. Martin Craighead
2. Baker Hughes Incorporated ----------------------- Defendants
3. Baker Hughes Company Limited
George Ogara with O.O. Erunoma (Mrs.) for the Claimant.
Yusuf Asana Kadiri (SAN) with A.O Mohammed for the Defendants.
1. On November 15, 2016 the claimant sued the defendants seeking for the following reliefs:
i. A Declaration that the action of the defendants in purporting to terminate the claimant’s Contract of Employment with the defendants by shutting the defendants Port Harcourt office gate against the claimant and locking out the claimant is unlawful, wrongful, a breach of the Contract of Employment between the claimant and the defendants and a violation of Labour Act, CAP L1, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
ii. The sum of N204,041.00 (Two Hundred and Four Thousand, Forty One Naira) per month from January 2016 till the date of Judgment in this case.
iii. The sum of N204,041.00 (Two Hundred and Four Thousand, Forty One Naira) per month from date of Judgment till the determination of the Contract of Employment.
iv. The sum of N35,343,058.31 only being the total amount due to the claimant from the defendants’ voluntary Release Program and the Redundancy package applicable in the defendant’s West Africa Geomarket.
v. Pre Judgment interest of Twenty – Five percent (25%) per annum on the sum of N35,343,058.31 from 30/1/2016 till Judgment and post Judgment interest of Twenty – Five percent (25%) per annum from date of Judgment till the payment of the said sum.
vi. The sum of USD $2,600.00 (Two Thousand Six Hundred Dollars) only being the one year medical contribution due to the claimant from the defendants Voluntary Release Program policy in the defendants West Africa Geomarket.
vii. Pre Judgment interest of Twenty – Five percent (25%) per annum on the sum of $2,600 USD from 15/04/2016 till Judgment and post – Judgment interest of Twenty – Five percent (25%) per annum from date of Judgment till the payment of the said sum.
viii. The sum of N1,000,000.00 (One Million Naira) being cost of this Suit.
ix. An Order of Perpetual Injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves, their servants, workers, receivers, agents or privies from selling, divesting their interest, and transferring the 2nd and 3rd defendants to General Electric (GE) or in any manner whatsoever interfering with or dissipating the 2nd and 3rd defendants assets for the purpose of denying the claimant the due redundancy package and voluntary release program package.
Other initiating processes were filed along with the Complaint in line with the Rules of this Court. In response, the defendants entered appearances through their counsel and filed their Statement of Defence together with other processes in compliance with the Rules of this Court.
2. CLAIMANTS’ CASE AS PLEADED
The case of the claimant as averred in his Statement of Facts is that by a Contract of Employment dated 01/09/1999, he was employed as a Senior Warehouseman by the defendants and that due to the able, honest and satisfactory manner he discharged his official duties in the defendants Companies; he rose to the position of Inventory Specialist SR. He went on that parties agreed to be bound by policies of the defendants including the Voluntary Release Program (VRP), which did not at any time provide for redundancy. Yet, the defendants embarked on redundancy exercise without following the procedure provided for in the Labour Act and also failed, refused and/neglected to pay the claimant his redundancy package.
3. DEEFENDANTS’ CASE AS PLEADED
The case of the defendants is that the 1st and 2nd Defendants are not in any way responsible for the act of the 3rd Defendant and that the so-called Voluntary Release Programme (VRP) heavily relied upon by the Claimant, upon which he has based his claims was never introduced, developed or applied in Nigeria, neither was it provided for in the Claimant’s Contract of Employment, nor incorporated by reference into the said Contract of Employment of the Claimant. The defendants continued that even though the word “Redundancy” was used in the notice issued to the Claimant terminating his employment, the Defendants only terminated the Claimant’s employment in line with the employment contract of the Claimant and he was paid all his entitlements.
During hearing of the case, the claimant testified as CW1 while Mr. Richard Babaoye testified on behalf of the defendants. The court subsequently directed parties to file their respective final written addresses in line with the Rules of this Court and they complied with the direction.
4. DEFENDANTS’ WRITTEN ARGUMENT S
The Final Written Address of Counsel to the Defendants is at page 702 of the record. In it, counsel formulated the following issues for the Court’s determination:
i. Considering the fact that Exhibit C.2 (Contract of Employment) was between the Claimant and the 3rd Defendant and nature of the evidence already adduced before the Court, whether the Claimant’s claim against the 1st and 2nd Defendants ought to be dismissed by this Honourable Court?
ii. Having regard to the failure of the Claimant to tender the termination/Notice of Redundancy upon which the Claimant’s case is predicated, whether the claimant’s reliefs and claim must fail?
iii. Having regards to the Claimant’s claims and the Defendants’ defence before this Honourable Court, vis a vis the evidence led by the respective parties during trial, whether the claimant’s suit is liable to be dismissed with substantial costs?
iv. Whether the Claimant’s action is not caught by the principle of estoppel, having accepted payment of his terminal benefits from the 3rd Defendant in full and final settlements arising from the termination of his employment?
5. Arguing issue one, counsel submitted that notwithstanding the Court’s Ruling delivered on the 13th of March, 2019 on the Notice of Preliminary Objection filed by the Defendants, that the Claimant has not proved the existence of the further contract of employment he alleged in his pleadings to have entered into with the 3rd Defendant on behalf of the 1st and 2nd Defendants. He submitted that pleadings without evidence to support them are worthless; he referred to Cameroon Airlines v. Otutuizu  LPELR-827 (SC); Omo-Agege v. Oghojafor & Ors.  LPELR-4775 (CA); Salisu Ali Basheer v. Polycarp Same & Ors  4 NWLR (Pt. 236) 491 @ 503 paras. H & page 504 paras D-E.
6. Counsel further submitted that Exhibit C.2 (the Contract of Employment) is between the Claimant and the 3rd Defendant contrary to the unproven averments in the Statement of Facts and not that the 3rd Defendant was/is acting for and on behalf of the 1st and 2nd Defendants; citing Dodo v. Solanke  All FWLR (Pt.346) 576 @ 592-593 paras. G-A (CA) & Olarewaju v. Unilag & Ors  LPELR-24093(CA). That the contract of employment was between the Claimant and the 3rd Defendant and there was no privity of contract between the Claimant and the 1st and 2nd Defendants.
7. Arguing issue two of whether the claimant is entitled to his claims having not exhibited the Letter of determining his employment, counsel submitted that the Claimant in this suit owes the evidential burden to prove and establish his entitlement to the reliefs sought citing Section 131 of the Evidenced Act, 2011. He continued his submission that having predicated some of his reliefs on the purported Notice of Redundancy, which was not produced or tendered before this Court; the failure to produce such document can only work against the Claimant. He referred the Court to the cases of F.B.N PLC & Anor v. Adesun Business Investments Ltd & Ors  LPELR-51203 (CA) & Kode v. Yusuf  4 NWLR (Pt. 703) 392 at 413.
8. Arguing issue three of whether the claimant’s suit is liable to be dismissed with substantial costs, counsel referred the Court to the case of Anifowoshe v. Wema Bank Plc.  LPELR-24811(CA) & Oak Pensions Ltd & Ors v. Olayinka  LPELR-43207 (CA). He submitted that the Claimant’s case is fraught with fundamental defects, which work against the proof of his entitlement to the reliefs. Counsel continued that the reliefs sought by the claimant in this suit show that the basis of the claimant’s case revolves around the purported and unfounded Voluntary Release Program (VRP), which is totally extraneous to the claimant’s employment with the 3rd defendant. He submitted that the claimant has not shown that his contract of employment has incorporated any other agreement such as those in Exhibits C1, C7 or C8. He again submitted that there were no redundancy provisions regarding the Claimant’s employment and that the Claimant has no further justiciable claims or cause of action against the defendants; citing Global Soap And Detergent Ind. Ltd. v. NAFDAC  LPELR-4202 (CA) and Chitex Industries Ltd v. Oceanic Bank International (Nig.) Ltd  LPELR-1293 (SC).
9. On the purported Country Severance Package, counsel submitted that the Defendants’ witness, DW1, during cross examination, emphatically denied that the defendants introduced any purported Country Severance Policy. This witness works with the 3rd Defendant and he is expected to know better. DW.1 stated that there was no such benefit known as VRP or Country Severance Policy in the Defendants. Counsel went on to submit that the Claimant must succeed on the strength of his case and not on the weakness on the opponent’s case, citing Ilondu v. Ilondu & Anor  LPELR-42093(CA), (Pp. 19-20, paras. F-E); Macfoy v. UAC.  AC 152; Elias v. Omo Bare  5 SC 13 at 23 and Okosun v. CBN  2 NWLR (Pt. 428) 77 PP. 86, PARAS. G.
10. Counsel went on that assuming, without conceding that the claimant’s suit could be considered at all, he submitted that the determination of what amounts to good or International Best Practices in Labour or Industrial Relations is purely a question of fact, which the claimant in this case has not been able to bring before this Honourable Court. To counsel, speculations and imaginations of the claimant as to the purported entitlement in Gabon and Congo, which are unfounded cannot constitute the International Best Practices being contemplated under the International Instruments. Counsel went on that conversely, what obtains under the Termination of Employment Convention, 1982 (No. 158) particularly Article 4 thereto is that a valid reason for Termination of Employment must be given by the employer while terminating an employment. However, where the Claimant failed and refused to tender any letter of termination or Notice of Redundancy in this case, that the failure or refusal is fatal to his case, citing Bello Ibrahim v. Ecobank Suit No: NICN/ABJ/144/2018 (Unreported) delivered on December 7, 2019; Kayili V. Yilbuk & Ors  LPELR-24323 (SC) and Oyekanmi v. NEPA  LPELR-2873(SC), held Per Syvester Umaru Onu, JSC (Pp 41-41Paras A-B).
11. Arguing issue four of whether the Claimant’s action is not caught by the principle of estoppel, counsel contended that having accepted payment of his terminal benefits after the termination of his employment without any complaints whatsoever, then the Claimant is estopped by his said conduct from filing this action. He referred to Exhibit D.1, the cheque for the payment of terminal benefits issued to the Claimant, Section 169 of the Evidence Act, 2011 and to the cases of FBN Plc. v. Songonuga  LPELR-7485(CA); University Of Ilorin v. Oduleye  All FWLR (Pt.371) 1651 at 1664 paras. C-E 1665 paras. C-G (CA) and Jay Jay v. Skye Bank Plc  LPELR-40185 (CA). To counsel, the claimant is precluded from instituting this instant suit and making the claims against the Defendants by reasons of the fact that the 3rd Defendant had duly paid him his terminal benefits, which he already accepted in full and final settlement. Counsel further referred to the cases of Angel Spinnig & Dyeing Limited v. Mr. Fidelix Ajah  LPELR-10724 (CA); Morohunfola v. Kwara State College of Technology  4 NWLR (Pt. 145) 506 and Guinnes (Nig.) Ltd v. Agoma  7 NWLR (Pt.256) 728 at 742.
12. CLAIMANT’S WRITTEN ARGUIMENTS
The claimant’s Final Written Address is at page 771 of the record. In it, his counsel raised the following issues for Court’s determination:
i. Whether the Defendants’ redundancy exercise determining the Claimant’s contract of employment violated the Laws and Guidelines in the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria.
ii. Whether the Claimant is entitled to redundancy payment in accordance with the Voluntary Release Program Policy of the Defendants’ West Africa Geomarket by section 6.3 (now 6.0) of the Guidelines 2015 (as amended in 2019).
13. Arguing issue one, counsel referred the court to paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Statement on Oath, paragraphs 39 and 42 of the DW1 Statement on Oath and Section 1 and Section 106 of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act, 2010. Counsel submitted that being operators in the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria, the Defendants were duty bound to abide by the provisions of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act, 2010 the Petroleum Act and Regulations made thereto.
14. On the issue of legality or otherwise of the redundancy exercise in the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria leading to the determination of the Claimant’s employment, counsel referred the court to the provisions of Regulation 15(A) of Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Regulations 1969 (As Amended) and Guidelines for the Release of Staff in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry, No 1 of 2015 (As Amended in 2019). He submitted that the termination of the Claimant’s employment by “redundancy” qualifies as staff Release under Section 3.0 of the Guidelines.
15. Referring to Section 4.0 of the Guidelines, counsel submitted that the Defendants did not follow the procedure as provided in the Guidelines in the termination of the Claimant’s Contract of employment by Redundancy. That the failure of the Defendants to apply for approval of the Minister as required by the Guidelines, led to the non-conduct of inquiry by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) into the circumstance and also make a decision on whether to convey the Minister Approval or otherwise in line with Section 4.4 of the Guidelines (supra). Counsel went on that since the Defendants’ termination of the Claimant’s Contract of Employment was not approved by the Minister through the DPR, the Defendants breach of the Guidelines of year 2015 (As Amended in 2019) is liable to pay penalty of $250,000.00. He again submitted that the Court is to take judicial notice of the guidelines 2015; citing Section 122(1) and 2(a) of the Evidence Act, 2011, Clementina Ogunniyi v. Hon. Minister of Federal Capital Territory & Anor.  LPELR-23164 (CA).
16. Counsel further argued that the common law provisions on master/servant relationship as it relates to the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry has been overridden by the Guidelines No.1 2015 (as amended in 2019) made pursuant to the said regulations. Counsel referred the Court to the cases of Imaloame v. WAEC  3 N.S.C.C. 374 at 383; Federal Medical Centre, Ido-Ekiti & Ors. v. Shuaib Adewole Alabi  LPELR-10931 (CA) by Abba-Aji J.C.A. and Clementina M. Ogunniyi v. Hon. Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja & Anor.  LPELR-23164 (CA) by Tur J.C.A.
17. Counsel went on that assuming but not conceding that the defendants are not bound by legislations in Nigeria relating to the claimant’s employment in the Oil and Gas Industry, he contended that the Defendants violated the master/servant relationship in Common Law and Labour Act. He referred the Court to paragraphs 3(a), 4, 5, 5(a), 6, 6(a), 7(a)(b) of the Statement of Facts, Clause 5.6. and 5.8 of Exhibit C2 and the Shell Petroleum Dev. Co. of Nigeria Limited & Ors V. E. N. Nwawka (supra) at page 206 – 207 paragraphs G-A.
18. In addition, counsel submitted that Exhibit C2 did not provide for “redundancy” or redundancy exercise referring to paragraph 8 of the Statement of Facts that Exhibit C2, having not provided for “redundancy” or redundancy exercise if the parties intends to embark on redundancy exercise, then they must abide by Nigerian Laws in respect of redundancy, citing Section 20(1) (2) (3) of the Labour Act, CAP. L1, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; Section 254(C) 1, (f), (h), 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (Third Alteration) Act, 2010. To counsel, in both Section 20 of the Labour Act and the International Labour Organization C158 (Exhibit C.10), the Defendants are required when carrying out redundancy to: (a) Notify and (b) negotiate redundancy payment. He referred the Court to paragraphs 23(a) (b) (c), 24, 25(a) (b) (c), 26 of the Statement of Facts that the Defendants did not comply with these requirements in their redundancy exercise. He referred the Court to National Electricity Power Authority v. Friday Edokpayi Eboigbe  LPELR 8576, Oluwa Nishola Lateef & Anor. v. Giwa Shakirudeen & Ors.  LPELR – 41004 (CA).
19. Counsel also submitted that the purported two weeks basic salary paid to the Claimant if any, is a violation of principles of calculation of Redundancy payment which takes into consideration length or service, age and health before declaring the claimant redundant, citing Lloyd v. Brassey  2 Q.B. 98 at page 102, Wyness South Repps Hall Brother Farm Ltd.  LTR 406 and Steyer Nigeria Limited V. B.M. Gadzama & Anor.  7 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 407) page 305 at 336-337 paragraphs G-D. Counsel went on to submit that there was no negotiation of redundancy payment and no actual redundancy payment was made to the Claimant by the Defendants. He maintained that the Claimant pleaded in paragraph 40 of the Statement of Facts that due to the protest and controversy generated therefrom, the Defendants agreed to pay “Country Severance Package” that he is now relying on. He urged the Court to resolve issue No.1 in the affirmative and declare that the Defendants violated Section 20 of Labour Act and Article 14 of ILO Convention C158 on the Termination of Employment in the Redundancy exercise.
20. The Defendants’ Reply On Points Of Law
The Defendant Reply on Points of law at page 812 of the record and they submitted that all the arguments in the Claimant’s Final written Address from paragraph 3.1 – 3.12 are highly misconceived and has no nexus whatsoever with the case at hand. He referred the Court to Sadiq v. Balarabe  LPELR-52114(CA); Shell Petroleum Development Company v. Nwawka & the Director of Petroleum Resources  10 NWLR (Pt. 720) 64.
21. Responding to the argument of the claimant in paragraphs 3.80 - 3.86 of his written address particularly under Issue One, counsel submitted in the interim that the Claimant has failed in bringing the convention before the court in the appropriate manner as provided in Order 14A of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2017.
22. Responding to the arguments of the claimant in paragraphs 3.87 – 3.116 of his Written Address, counsel submitted that the circumstances of this case does not call for an application of the provisions of Section 20 of the Labour Act as the Claimant’s employment was terminated and not based on redundancy. Counsel went on that a portion of the case quoted to drive home the point does not exist in the case cited, like in National Electricity Power Authority v. Friday Edokpayi Eboigbe  LPELR 8576. To counsel, the claimant wittingly or unwittingly intended to mislead the Court with the quotation and applied same in this case.
23. Responding to the Claimant’s Submissions under Issue Two, counsel submitted that the calculations at paragraphs 4.10 – 4.28 of his written address were not part of the Claimant’s pleadings and evidence before the Court. That it is trite that the Court cannot manufacture evidence for parties or act on fictitious or speculative evidence, citing A.G. Adamawa State v. A.G. Federation  LPELR – 602 SC.
24. COURT’S DECISION
After going through the facts of this case, the testimonies of the parties and the arguments of their counsel, I am of the humble view that the issues this Court need to resolve between the parties are:
i. Are the Claimant’s Exhibits C1, C5, C6, C7 and C8 competent, relevant, and reliable documents?
ii. Is the determination of the claimant’s employment by the defendant wrongful, is he entitled to redundancy payment in accordance with the Voluntary Release Program Policy of the Defendants in West Africa Geomarket and can he claim the sum of
N1,000,000.00 as cost of litigation?
iii. Is the claimant estopped from filing this suit and has the claimant made any case against the 1st and 2nd defendants?
25. Before going to the merit of this case, let me make some preliminary points. This matter together with several others were transferred to this Court from Bayelsa State NICN Division and on November 8, 2018 when the matter first came up, counsel to the parties agreed that this matter will be used as test case for the following other sister cases with Suit Nos: NICN/YEN/211, 214, 215, 220, 227, 230, 235, 236, 238, 241, 243, 245, 250 & 251/2016. Meaning that the decision in this particular suit abides in the other listed sister cases. This arrangement went on until July 11, 2019 when hearing of the substantive matter commenced and by counsel’s consent, the initial arrangement to use this matter as test case for the other sister cases was withdrawn. From then on, this case stood on its own. On the said date, the claimant called his witness in evidence and tendered ten documents in evidence as exhibits.
26. Are Exhibits C1, C5, C6, C7 and C8 of the claimant competent, relevant, and reliable in this Case?
At page 739 of the record is the defendants’ objection to Exhibits C1, C5, C6, C7 and C8 of the claimant on the grounds that they are not competent, relevant, and reliable. Exhibits C1 is the Byelaws of the 2nd defendant and it is at pages 504 to 531 of the record. Exhibits C5 and C5 (i) are the West Africa Geomarket Organizational Announcements dated November 30, 2015 and December 1, 2015 respectively; they are at pages 547 to 554 of the record. Exhibit C6 is Baker Hughes Nigerian, West Africa and Central Africa Geomarket Revenue and Profit Margin in 2015; see page 555 of the record. Exhibit C7 is the VRP Mandate, it is at page 558 of the record and Exhibit C8 is the e-mail by Human Resources Department of the Defendants at page 561 of the record.
27. The Law is that where a document is relevant, its admission in evidence is proper. In such situation, the determining factor is the weight that will be attached to it. In other words, once the evidence in the document is probative to the fact in issue or the facts for which it was tendered, the document is relevant and therefore admissible. We should bear in mind that admissibility is different from weight to be attached to a document, see Kayili v. Yilbuk  7 NWLR (Pt. 1457) page 26 at 69 para B-C:  All FWLR (Pt. 775) 347 at 383 para D. It is the duty of the claimant to prove or establish his case to the satisfaction of the Court through his relevant evidence on his case. It then behooves on the Court to determine the weight to attach to that evidence. Considering the claims of the claimant and the facts for which these documents were exhibited in the instant suit, I find and hold that Exhibits C1, C4, C5, C6. C7 and C8 are relevant and properly admitted for the determination of the facts in question and that the Court will appropriately determine the weight to attach to each of them, when considering those facts. The objection of the defendants’ counsel to the admissibility and otherwise of Exhibits C1, C4, C5, C6, C7 and C8 is accordingly overruled and dismissed.
28. What is the Nature of the Claimant’s Employment?
In paragraphs 5 and 6 of the Statement of Facts at page 6 of the record, the claimant referred the Court to his contract of employment with the defendants dated September 1, 1999 in which he was appointed as a Senior Warehouseman by the defendant. However, the contract of employment before the Court as Exhibit C2 at 532 to 546 of the record is dated January 1, 2007 as against September 1, 1999 that the claimant pleaded. From the content of Exhibit C2, it is not stated that the conditions for appointment or the determination of the claimant’s contract of service are governed by pre-conditions of an enabling Statute or Decree, so that valid determination of the said appointment is predicated on satisfying such statutory provisions; see the case of NEPA v. Adesaaji  58 NLLR (Pt. 202) 498 CA 545 to 546, paras. B-C. Therefore, I hold that the Employment Relationship between the claimant and the defendants is a Private Employment otherwise known as Master and Servant.
29. What are the Documents Governing the Parties’ Employment Relationship?
It is the Law that in cases of Private Employment, it is the duty of the Court to examine what the terms and conditions of service are in order to determine the contractual relationship between the parties. In doing this, the Court will look at the letter of appointment of the claimant, the employee and any service regulations connected with the establishment of his Employer. This also includes the provisions of any Statute or Decree relating to or regulating the Service Conditions of the Establishment; see -Odiase v. Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi 60 NLLR (Pt. 208)1 CA at 23-24, para F-A; Avre v. Nigeria Postal Service  46 NLLR (Pt.147) 1 at 41. Where parties have reduced the Terms and Conditions of Service into an agreement and in writing, those conditions must be observed. In the particular circumstance of this instant case, I find and hold that the contract of employment between the parties is as stated in Exhibit C2, the Letter of the Claimant’s Employment before the Court. I further hold that the determination of the respective rights, duties and liabilities of the parties here will be based on the content of Exhibit C2.
30. Is the Determination of the Claimant’s Employment Wrongful?
The 1st relief of the claimant as endorsed on the Complaint is for a declaration that the action of the defendants in terminating his Contract of Employment with them is unlawful, wrongful, a breach of his Contract of Employment and a violation of Labour Act. In paragraphs 3.1 to 3.79 of his final written address for the claimant, his counsel referred the court to the provisions of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act, 2010, 2015, the Guidelines for the Release of Staff in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry, No 1 of 2015 (As Amended in 2019) while arguing issue 1 as framed by him, see page 775 of the record. Counsel did not prove to the Court how these provisions are incorporated in the terms and conditions governing the Private Employment Relationship between the parties in Exhibit C.2. Therefore, those referred Oil and Gas Laws and Guidelines etc. are discountenanced in this judgment for being irrelevant.
31. However, it is the case of the claimant that his employment was determined by the defendants on account of Redundancy but the Defendants averred in paragraph 18 of their Amended Statement of Defence at page 638 of the record that even though the word “Redundancy” was used in the notice issued to the Claimant determining his employment, the Defendants only terminated the Claimant’s employment in line with the employment contract between the parties; and that the procedure laid down in the Labour Act relating to redundancy does not apply to the termination of the Claimant’s employment, as same was not provided for in the contract of employment. In the circumstance, I find that the response of the defendants as pleaded is an admission of the fact that the employment of the claimant was determined on ground of redundancy. It is well settled that facts admitted need no further proof, see BAALO v. FRN  LPELR-40500(SC). Therefore, I hold that the claimant’s employment was determined by redundancy by the defendants at the material time.
32. Furthermore, by agreement of the parties as stated in clauses 3.4 and 3.5 of Exhibits C.2, the employment of the Claimant can be put to an end by his employer either by termination or by retirement only; see in particular, page 541 of the record. It is the Law that where parties have reduced the terms and conditions of service into an agreement and in writing, the conditions must be observed as they are bound by that contract, see the case of Avre v. Nigeria Postal Service  46 NLLR (Pt.147) 1 at 41 and Gbedu v. Itie  3 NWLR (Pt. 1710) SC 104 at 129-130 paragraphs H. In the instant case, I find that the claimant has discharged the onus of how his contract of employment was breached by showing that his employment was determined by redundancy, contrary to the terms and conditions of his employment in Exhibit C.2 and as also required by case law in West African Examination Counsel v. Oshionebo  55 NLLA (Pt 187) 165 at 189-190 paras D-A. Consequently, I hold that by determining the said employment by redundancy, which is not provided for in the terms and conditions of employment agreed to by the parties in Exhibit C.2, therefore, I declare that the termination of the claimant’s employment by Redundancy is wrongful.
33. Is the Claimant Entitled to Redundancy Payment Under the Voluntary Release Program Policy of The Defendants?
In reliefs iv to vii as endorsed on his complaint, the claimant is seeking for payment of the sum of
N35,343,058.31 as the total amount due to him from the defendants’ Voluntary Release Program as his Redundancy package, the sum of USD $2,600.00 as his one year medical contribution from the said Program Policy in the defendants’ West Africa Geomarket and 25% interest per annum on these monetary claims.
34. As reflected above in this judgment, the claimant did not exhibit the letter through which his employment was declared redundant by the defendants and this failure is very fatal to his case. Notwithstanding the fact that the Court has held that the determination of the claimant’s employment by redundancy is wrongful, the Court still needs to look at the content of this letter of redundancy to decide whether or not the claimant is entitled to the amount/sum of money he is claiming. In addition, the Voluntary Release Program Policy in the defendants West Africa Geomarket that the claimant is urging the Court to calculate his Redundancy Package with, is not before the Court as Exhibit; notwithstanding the fact that these two documents were listed in his list of documents at page 502 of the record. This again is fatal to the claimant’s case as the Court has nothing to base its decision on, for this claim.
35. Consequently, I find and hold that the claimant has failed to satisfy the Court that he is entitled to the sum of
N35,343,058.31 and the sum of USD $2,600.00 as his total Redundancy Package from the said defendant’s Voluntary Release Program Policy in the West Africa Geomarket. I further hold that the claimant is not entitled to 25% interest per annum on the monetary claims in question. And so, reliefs iv, v, vi & vii of the claimant as endorsed on the complaint are dismissed in this judgment.
36. Can the Claimant Claim
N1,000,000.00 as the Cost of this Litigation?
Relief viii of the claimant as endorsed on his complaint is for the Sum of N1,000,000.00 as Cost of Litigation The claimant did not give any evidence on the amount he spent in prosecuting this suit. The claimant is under a legal obligation to prove this claim in compliance with the provision of section 131 of the Evidence Act, 2011 (As Amended). See also the cases of Oyebode v. Gabriel  All FWLR (Pt. 669) 1043 at 1083; Agboola v. UBA  All FWLR (Pt. 574) 74 SC and Alade v. Alic Nig. Ltd.  All FWLR (Pt. 563) 1849. Where no evidence is led to prove the averment in pleadings, Court considers such averment as vague and same is discountenanced. In the instant suit, the claimant has failed woefully to prove this claim before the Court and I so hold. Accordingly, relief viii of the claimant is hereby dismissed in this judgment.
37. Relief ix of the claimant as endorsed in the complaint is for an Order of Perpetual Injunction restraining the defendants, agents or privies etc. from selling, divesting their interest, and transferring the 2nd and 3rd defendants to General Electric (GE) or in any manner whatsoever. The claimant clearly abandoned contending this claim during the trial of this case. This relief is accordingly dismissed.
38. Whether The Claimant Is Estopped From Filing This Suit.
The 4th issue framed for determination of the court by counsel to the defendant is, whether the Claimant’s action is not caught by the principle of estoppel, having accepted payment of his terminal benefits from the 3rd Defendant in full and final settlements for the termination of his employment, Counsel answer this in the affirmative and urged the Court to so hold, see paragraphs 7.0 to 7.8 of the Final Written Address of the defendants for full arguments of counsel on this point. The contract of employment between the parties is a Private one, otherwise known as Master/Servant Relationship. Therefore, the contract is a product of the terms and conditions agreed upon by them and the parties are bound by those terms and conditions; see Gbedu v. Itie  3 NWLR (Pt.1710) SC 104 at 129-130 paragraphs H-A. The question is, has the 3rd Defendant done equity in the instant case? In other words; was the determination of the Claimant’s employment by redundancy in accordance with the terms and conditions of his employment? The answer is in the negative and I so find. In the circumstance, I find that the Defendant has not done equity and so, it cannot plead equity in the instant case. I further hold that the claimant’s case is not caught up by the Principle of Estoppel.
39. Has The Claimant Made Any Case Against The 1st And 2nd Defendants?
From the findings and reasoning of the Court in this judgment it is clear that the claimant establishes no cause of action against the 1st and 2nd defendants in this case as all his pleaded allegations against them were not substantiated in any way and I so hold. Consequently, I find and hold that the two defendants are not necessary and proper parties before the Court in this Case. The case of the claimant against the two defendants is accordingly dismissed.
40. On the whole, I hold as follows:
i. I hold that Exhibits C1, C5, C6, C7 and C8 are relevant and were properly admitted in evidence in this case.
ii. I hold that the determination of the claimant’s employment by the defendant by Redundancy is wrongful.
iii. I hold that the claimant is not entitled to the sum of
N35,343,058.31 and the sum of USD $2,600.00 as his total Redundancy Package and to 25% interest per annum on the money in question because there is no evidence to support the claims before the Court.
iv. I hold that the claimant is not entitled to claim from the defendants, the sum of
N1,000,000.00 as cost of this litigation as this was not proved.
v. I hold that the claimant is not estopped from filing this suit because the defendant has not done equity hence, it cannot plead equity.
vi. I hold that the claimant has not made any case against the 1st and 2nd defendants, hence, the claimant’s alleged claims against them is hereby dismissed.
vii. Consequently, the case of the claimant against the defendants failed in its entirety and it is accordingly dismissed.
41. Judgment is entered accordingly. I make no order as to cost.
Hon Justice F. I. Kola-Olalere FCIArb