The National Industrial Court has awarded over N76 million as damages against a new generation bank for wrongful termination of appointment of its member of staff, Patrick Modilim.
Delivering judgment in a suit filed by Dr. Charles Mekwunye on behalf of Modilim against the bank, Justice B.B. Kanyip held that Modilim’s employment was constructively terminated after 20 months of service.
The court then ordered the bank to pay N76 million not later than 30 days from the date of the judgment, failing which post-judgment interest of 10 per cent shall start to run on the judgment sum.
Justice Kanyip held that there was evidence that Modilim may not have resigned his employment as at the time he did but for the fact that he was asked by the Executive Director (Human Resources) of the bank to resign.
He ruled that there was corroborated evidence by the second claimant’s witness who stated that he was there at the meeting between the claimant and the said ED when the executive director asked the claimant to resign.
Justice Kanyip held that there was also a proof that the letter of acceptance of resignation was dated March 30, 2010 whilst the claimant’s letter of resignation was dated March 31, 2010.
He said: “On this ground, the claimant is entitled to three months notice or three months salaries in lieu of notice.”
The court, therefore, awarded the sum of N1,120,221.60 to the claimant as damages for wrongful termination of appointment by the bank. It also said N75,535,128.00 was the total sum of money he (Modilim) ought to have been paid as his emolument as General Manager for the 20 months he worked for the bank after his confirmation.
The judge further held that Modilim was never confirmed as General Manager on August 5, 2008 via the confirmation letter of August 27, 2008.
He said: “The confirmation letter of August 27, 2008, although silent as to the position for which the claimant was confirmed, the fact that the claimant was employed as a Deputy General Manager clearly supports the inference that his employment as Deputy General Manager was confirmed.”
The court also declared that “the defendant’s failure to confirm the appointment of the claimant as a General Manager was a breach of his contract of employment contained in the offer letter and letter of commitment both dated November 23, 2007.
It said: “The claimant’s agreement with the defendant is regulated by the claimant’s letter of employment and letter of commitment both dated November 23, 2007, the performance contract and the defendant’s members of staff handbook.” It therefore said that these documents taken together contain the terms of the claimant’s employment.
“That the confirmation letter issued to the claimant clearly shows that he had met all the conditions outlined in the performance contract and that the claimant has an expectant interest in the defendant honouring his part of the contract. On this basis, the court hereby awarded the sum of N75,535,128.00 as claimed by the claimant in his relief,” the court ruled.