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Nigerian Telecommunications Plc v. Awala

NIGERIAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS PLC

V

EMMANUEL O. AWALA

COURT OF APPEAL

( KADUNA DIVISION )

ISA AYO SALAMI, JCA ( Presided )

MAHMUD MOHAMMED, JCA

V. AIMEPOMO OYELEYE OMAGE, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CA/K/31/97

THURSDAY, 12TH JULY, 2001

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Prosecution of criminal offences - Power of Director of Public Prosecution and Police to embark upon

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - Record of criminal proceedings When inadmissible in civil action

MASTER AND SERVANT - Employment of employee - Whether court can compel employer to employ an employee

MASTER AND SERVANT - Employee found negligent - Right of employer to determine services of

MASTER AND SERVANT - Nigerian Telecommunications Plc - Power of to dismiss its employee(s)

Issues:

1.            Whether the respondent was at the time of his dismissal, a civil servant and whether his service in the appellant company was governed by the Civil Service Rules.

2.            Whether the trial court was wrong when it resolved that if the respondent was not being accused of any crime he should not have been charged to court, but once charged to the court in a criminal allegation, the appellant should have waited for the outcome before dismissing him.

3.            Whether the respondent was dismissed from the service of the appellant company on the ground of the appellant having found him guilty of a criminal offence.

4.            Whether in all the circumstances of the case the respondent was entitled to any and or all of the reliefs granted him by the court below.

Facts:

In 1984, the entire staff of Ministry of Communication were given an option to elect which of the existing three bodies will be its employer. The three bodies are, (i) Ministry of Establishment (ii) the NITEL, and (iii) NIPOST. The respondent  opted to go to the NITEL and was designated as Senior Manager.

Sometime in April, 1986, NITEL headquarters set up a panel to look into the crisis at the NITEL Training Centre, Kano where the respondent was the head. The crisis involved the stealing of 11 KVA panel, property of NITEL from the training school. The respondent was notified to appear before the panel.

At the conclusion of the panel’s assignment, the respondent was found to be negligent, to be tyrannical, fraudulent dishonest and guilty of theft and misconduct. Consequently, he was dismissed from the employment of NITEL. The respondent asserted that the management who decided to dismiss him was the board which he said had no jurisdiction to dismiss him, since there was no board in existence at the NITEL at the time of his dismissal. Being displeased with the said dismissal, the respondent as plaintiff filed an action at the Kano State High Court seeking a declaration that his dismissal was unlawful, null, void and of no effect, and an order reinstating him to his deserved status, among others.

At the conclusion of hearing the learned trial High Court gave judgment in favour of the plaintiff/respondent. The defendant being dissatisfied with the said judgment, filed this appeal.