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  • 2003-10-06
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National Electric Power Authority vs. Enyong

NATIONAL ELECTRIC POWER AUTHORITY

V

R. K. ENYONG

COURT OF APPEAL

( CALABAR DIVISION )

DENNIS ONYEJIFE EDOZIE, JCA ( Presided )

SIMEON OSUJI EKPE, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

SULE AREMU OLAGUNJU, JCA

CA/C/68/99

WEDNESDAY, 10TH JULY, 2002

DAMAGES - Dismissal or wrongful termination of employment - Plaintiff in an action therefor - Measure of damages recoverable thereby

MASTER AND SERVANT - Contract of employment - Categories of

MASTER AND SERVANT - Contract of employment - Disciplinary measures against an employee who is guilty of misconduct bordering on crime -  Whether employer can take without first subjecting same to criminal trial

MASTER AND SERVANT - Contract of employment - Parties thereto Whether have right to terminate same

MASTER AND SERVANT - Contract of employment - Party thereto - When can successfully seek remedy or redress in court

MASTER AND SERVANT - Contract of employment - Right to terminate same - Whether malice or improper motive can vitiate

MASTER AND SERVANT - Contract of employment - Termination of -

Exercise of the right thereto in accordance with the contract - Whether amounts to breach of contract

MASTER AND SERVANT - Contract of employment - Written provision for terminating contract of employment - Breach thereof - What employee is entitled to

MASTER AND SERVANT - Contract of service - Notice to terminate same -  Where contract contains no provision for the required notice to terminate - Duty on employer to give reasonable notice

MASTER AND SERVANT - Contract of service - Termination of an employee’s contract of service - Whether employer needs to give reason therefor

MASTER AND SERVANT - Contract of service - Written contract Provisions thereof - Bindingness of on parties

MASTER AND SERVANT - Dismissal or wrongful termination of employment - Plaintiff in an action therefor - Measure of damages recoverable thereby

MASTER AND SERVANT - Relationship of - what governs

MASTER AND SERVANT - Relationship of master and servant - Principle guiding same

MASTER AND SERVANT - Servant - Circumstances when can be summarily dismissed by his employer

MASTER AND SERVANT -  Unlawful dismissal - Servant unlawfully dismissed - Whether can claim wages for services he never rendered

Issue:

Whether having regard to the evidence before the trial court the respondent established that the appellant was in breach of its conditions of service and the respondent’s right to fair hearing to warrant the award of damages.

Facts:

The plaintiff/respondent herein was employed by the defendant as a senior personnel officer on 1/2/84 on pensionable basis. The contract of employment was governed by the defendant’s condition of service, 1978 edition. The defendant ran a staff welfare scheme by which certain essential commodities were supplied to the staff at subsidised costs. In 1986, the Essential Commodity Committee of the Staff Welfare Scheme of the defendant met and sought plaintiff’s recommendation of someone to supply palm oil for the purpose of the Staff Welfare Scheme and the plaintiff recommended Mr. Valentine Enyong. Upon that recommendation, the defendant contracted with Mr. Valentine Enyong to do the job. The palm oil supply contract was executed to the satisfaction of the defendant.

After the palm oil supply contract was over, the defendant again engaged the said Enyong to further supply rice for the same purpose of the Staff Welfare Scheme. Trouble started when the rice supply contract ran into a hitch as the required quality of rice could not be supplied. The plaintiff was accused of colluding with Mr. Valentine Enyong to defraud the defendant.

Following the development, the plaintiff was summoned to appear before the defendant’s Ad Hoc Disciplinary Committee to ascertain his role or involvement in the rice supply contract between the defendant and Mr. Valentine Enyong and at the end of its investigation, the Ad Hoc Disciplinary Committee submitted its report to the defendant who in turn terminated the employment of the plaintiff.

At the trial court, it was held that the termination of the plaintiff’s appointment was wrong, unlawful and unjustified. Plaintiff was thus awarded damages for wrongful termination of appointment.

Being dissatisfied with the judgment, the defendant now appellant has appealed to the Court of Appeal.