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Ansambe v. Bank of the North Ltd

SIMON ANSAMBE

V

BANK OF THE NORTH LTD.

COURT OF APPEAL

( JOS DIVISION )

ALOMA M. MUKHTAR, JCA ( Presided and Read the Lead Judgment )

OLUDADE OLADAPO OBADINA, JCA

IKECHI FRANCIS OGBUAGU, JCA

CA/J/120/2002

THURSDAY, 27TH MAY, 2004

APPEAL - Issue for determination - Where does not derive from ground of appeal - Effect

CONTRACT - Employment contract - Right of master to terminate

EVIDENCE - Burden of proof - When shifts to the defendant

FAIR HEARING - Nature of - Sufficiency of written representation

MASTER AND SERVANT - Contract of employment - Right of master to terminate

MASTER AND SERVANT - Dismissal of employee - When proper

MASTER AND SERVANT - Dismissal - Servant guilty of embezzlement or misappropriation - Whether must be prosecuted before dismissal

MASTER AND SERVANT - Misconduct - Gross misconduct and acts of disloyalty to employer - Whether amounts to criminal allegation

MASTER AND SERVANT - Wilful misconduct - Meaning of PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Parties - Whether can rely on weakness of opponent’s case to succeed

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Wilful misconduct’ - Meaning of in master/ servant relationship

Issues:

1.              Whether the purported dismissal of the appellant is in conformity with the collective agreement and if not what is the validity of such a dismissal.

2.              Whether the allegations against the appellant were criminal in nature and if the allegations were criminal in nature, was the appellant given a fair hearing as required by law before his purported dismissal.

3.              Whether the appellant is entitled to the claims put forward by him.

Facts:

The appellant, as plaintiff at the High Court of Justice, Plateau State claimed against the respondent, for wrongful dismissal, the sum of N1,711,844.20k being entitlements both accrued and accruable and the sum of N288,155.80k as general damages. The appellant was summarily dismissed from the employ of the respondent vide a letter dated 18th December, 1991. Accordingly to the appellant the purported dismissal was null, void and of no effect being contrary to the provisions of the Senior Staff Collective Agreement of 28th December, 1990. In its defence, the respondent denied the allegations of the appellant and claimed that towards the end of his career in its employ, the appellant adopted a deliberate careless attitude towards his work which necessitated his being given a letter of caution. Various acts of misconduct which led to the dismissal of the appellant were stated.

At the conclusion of trial, the trial court dismissed the appellant’s claim. Dissatisfied, he appealed to the Court of Appeal.