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[Just In] Industrial Court awards N10m damages against Bank for breach of employment contract

737 Tuesday 30th March 2021

The Presiding Judge, Benin Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Adunola Adewemimo has ordered Fidelity Securities Ltd and Fidelity Bank Plc to pay Mr. Yakubu Obakhume the sum of Ten Million Naira as general damages for breach of employment agreement and the sum of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira cost of action within 30 days.

However, the Court held that monetary sum on contributory pension, Housing Funds, and special damages claimed by Mr. Yakubu are unsubstantiated and cannot be granted in the absence of cogent evidence. 

From facts, the claimant – Mr. Yakubu Obakhume had submitted that he was employed by Fidelity Securities Ltd in 2013 as a teller, and seconded to the Fidelity Bank as teller, pleaded that the bank for 5 years converted his designation at various times to other units which are at variance with his letter of appointment and has refused to pay him the salaries and allowances commensurate with those roles, and was eventually redeployed back as a teller on 1st February 2018.

He alleged that the bank made consistent deductions for contributory pension and National Housing Funds from his salaries, that the failure to make adequate remittances to his pension managers is injurious to him urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.

In defence, the firm maintained that Mr. Yakubu was paid his entitlements as a teller as and when due, denied the allegation of non-remittance of the contributory pension and deductions for National Housing funds, and finally contended that the suit was frivolous, gold-digging, and abuse of Court’s process.

The defence counsel Victor Nna Esq. premised his objections on the ground that some of the documents tendered by Mr. Yakubu offends the provision of the Evidence Act, and pleaded that Yakubu was only availed with the opportunity to learn and have knowledge of banking practice urged the court to dismiss the case.

In opposition, Claimant Counsel Christian N. Oti Esq. argued that the deployment of the claimant as CMO creates an implied contract between the Claimant and the 2nd Defendant, that the defendants’ objection on this point is a technicality, urged the Court to discountenance same in the interest of justice.

Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Adunola Adewemimo held that some documents tendered by Mr. Yakubu are inadmissible having failed to comply with the provisions of the Evidence Act.

Justice Adewemimo also held that Mr. Yakubu tendered no documentary evidence to establish the monetary sum being claimed and such claims cannot be granted in the absence of cogent evidence. 

Furthermore, the Court held that the defendants’ failure to discharge the onus to prove the assertion that the claimant was deployed in those roles as part of his training and did not carry out the full responsibility of the roles of CMO and FTO is untenable and cannot absolve them the breach of the claimant’s contract of employment.

Click on this link to read full judgment via the judgment’s Portall