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  • 2002-08-19
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Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation v. Obende

NIGERIA DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION

( Provisional Liquidator of Progress Bank of Nig. Plc )

V

MR.  E. A. OBENDE

COURT OF APPEAL

( JOS DIVISION )

ALOMA MARIAM MUKHTAR, JCA ( Presided )

IBRAHIM TANKO MUHAMMAD, JCA

OLUDADE OLADAPO OBADINA, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CA/J/111/96

MONDAY, 11TH MARCH, 2002

BANKING - Company operating banking business - Banking licence of Revocation of same - Whether means the death of the company

BANKING - Gross misconduct in banking industry - What amounts thereto -  Whether includes act of granting unauthorised overdrafts and loans to customers contrary to specific instruction

COMPANY LAW - Company operating banking business - Banking licence of - Revocation of same - Whether means the death of the company

COMPANY LAW - Liquidation of company - When presumed - Whether appointment of provisional liquidator terminates the life of the company - Section 478(4), Company and Allied Matters Act

COMPANY LAW - Liquidator - Power of - Whether same covers power to bring and defend action or other legal proceedings in the name and on behalf of the company - Need for court’s sanction to so act

CONTRACT - Contract of service - Where written - Right and obligation of parties thereunder - What determines - Bindingness of the provisions or terms thereof on parties - Essence of the terms stipulated or agreed upon therein

COURT - Damages awarded by trial court - Whether appellate court is empowered to re-assess same

COURT - Trial court - Damages awarded thereby - When same will be interfered with by the appellate court

DAMAGES - Damages awarded by trial court - When appellate court will interfere therewith

DAMAGES - Damages awarded by trial court - Whether appellate court is empowered to re-assess same

DAMAGES - Damages in a claim for wrongful dismissal - Basis for assessment of

ESTOPPEL - Misconduct condoned by employer - Whether employer will be estopped from dismissing his employee therefor

FAIR HEARING - Audi alteram partem - When requirement therefor is deem satisfied - Whether include opportunity to defend in response to a query which was refused

LABOUR LAW - ‘Gross misconduct’ - Meaning of

LABOUR LAW - Collective agreement - Enforceability of - Whether negotiation between the parties required

LABOUR LAW - Termination of employment - Wrongful termination - Where employee who is entitled to one month’s notice or salary in lieu is wrongfully terminated - Remedy available thereto - Whether include other legitimate entitlements due to him

LITIGANT - Litigant’s death - Effect of on his case

MASTER AND SERVANT - Contract of service - Where written - Right and obligation of parties thereunder - What determines - Bindingness of the provisions or terms thereof on parties - Essence of the terms stipulated or agreed upon therein

MASTER AND SERVANT - Dismissal - Damages in a claim for wrongful dismissal - Basis for assessment of

MASTER AND SERVANT - Dismissal - Employee dismissed for breach of contract of employment - Whether can sue for wages for period he did not work - Remedy available therefor

MASTER AND SERVANT - Dismissal - Summary dismissal - When an employee can be summarily dismissed

MASTER AND SERVANT - Dismissal - Wrongful dismissal - Employee complaining of - What same must prove

MASTER AND SERVANT - Misconduct condoned by employer - Whether employer will be estopped from dismissing his employee therefor

MASTER AND SERVANT - Termination of employment - Power of employer to terminate employment of employee in a contract of employment Whether same can be exercised at any time and for any reason or for no reason at all - Whether employer’s motive is a relevant factor

MASTER AND SERVANT - Termination of employment - Where master or servant brings master/servant relationship to an end - Whether specific performance of contract of service will be ordered - Where employment is specifically protected by statute - Whether employee unlawfully dismissed will be reinstated WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Gross misconduct’ - Meaning of

Issues:

1(a) Whether the respondent was liable for summary dismissal despite his earlier recall to duty.

(b) Whether the finding by the lower court that the summary dismissal of the respondent from the employment of the appellant was null, void and of no effect was proper in law.

2(a)      Whether the appellant is liable to the respondent in damages.

(b) Was the award of the sums by the lower court in favour of the respondent proper in law?

Facts:

The respondent, as plaintiff filed an action at the High Court of Plateau State against the appellant, as defendant claiming declaratory relief, injunction and an order to pay his salary and benefits he would have earned had his employment lasted till pension time.

In 1989, the Inspection/Audit Department discovered some fraudulent act of the respondent and other collaborators totalling N2,856,008.00 resulting from drafts they issued without approval of the appellant Head Office.  The plaintiff/respondent was promptly suspended from duties and made to receive half of his basic salary.

On 17/3/1990, the plaintiff/respondent was recalled and reassigned to recover in full, the unauthorised overdrafts in question.  On 23rd/10/ 1990, the plaintiff/respondent was issued with query and was sent on suspension again on 10th December.  On 6th July, 1992, he was recalled from suspension and reassigned to another duties.  The balance of his salary and other entitlement were calculated and paid to him.  Unceremoniously, on the 4/5/1993, the plaintiff/respondent was served with a letter of summary dismissal - exhibit ‘A’, thereby leading to the action at the Plateau High Court.

At the conclusion of trial, the trial Judge gave judgment in favour of the plaintiff/respondent by “directing the defendant to pay to the plaintiff all the amount of salary and other benefits/entitlement which he would have earned had his employment lasted till pension time”.

Being dissatisfied with the said judgment, the appellant brought this appeal.