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NO EMPLOYMENT CAN BE INFERRED WITHOUT A LETTER OF EMPLOYMENT PRODUCED

Dictum

In the case of Organ and Ors. v. Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd., and Anor (2013) LPELR – 20942 (SC), the Supreme Court emphatically held as follows: “The letter of employment is the bedrock on which any of the appellants can lay claim to being employees of the respondent and without the production of such a document, no employment can be inferred. The Employees’ Handbook issued by 1st Respondent is not a substitute for the letter of employment”.

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WHERE OFFICER HOLDS HIS OFFICE “AT PLEASURE”

Where an officer holds his office “at pleasure,” like was the case in Brown v. Dagenham Urban District Council (1929) 1 K.B. 737 at p.742 he can be dismissed at will in complete disregard of any purported contract whether verbal, or written or even under seal, because such contract will be incompatible with his status and therefore destitute of legal value. Thus Servants of the Crown, civil as well as military, except in special cases, where it is otherwise provided by law, hold their office only during the pleasure of the Crown and can be dismissed at any time in spite of a contract for a period of Service:- Dunn v. Reginam (1896)1 Q.B. 116. In fact the employing authority will lack the power, the vires to “enter into a contract” inconsistent with the wording of the Statute which gave it power in the public interest to remove the Servant at its pleasure:- Nicholson v. Whitstable Urban District Council (1925) 89 J. P. Newsp 480 at p.508. An officer holding his office at pleasure has also no right to be heard before he is removed because there need not be anything against him to warrant his removal. If there is nothing against him, no reason need be given for there is nothing to defend since he held his office durante bene placito: See Reg v. Dartington School Governors (1844) 6 Q.B.682.

— A. Oputa, JSC. Olaniyan & Ors. v. University of Lagos (1985) – SC.53/1985

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APPOINTED TO A POST BY A TERM OF STATUTE

Obeta v. Okpe (1996) 9 NWLR (Pt. 473) page 401 at pages 433 – 434, it was held thus:- “The proposition of law that a person appointed to a post for a term by statute has right to serve out his statutory term of his appointment is correct. He cannot be removed from the office by any person during the period except for a misconduct or when the, master body or institution he is appointed to serve dies or ceases to exist.”

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THE EMPLOYEE HAS BURDEN TO PLACE TERMS AND CONDITIONS THAT WAS BREACHED BY EMPLOYER

The law is settled that in the determination of employment rights, it is the employee who complains that his employment contract has been breached that has the burden to place before the Court the terms and conditions of his employment that provide for his rights and obligations, see Okoebor v Police Council [2003] 12 NWLR (Pt 834) 444, Okomu Oil Palm Co v Iserhienrhien [2001] 6 NWLR (Pt. 710) 660 at 673, Idoniboye-Obe v. NNPC [2003] 2 NWLR (Pt. 805) 589 at 630. In furtherance of this the Claimant has placed before the Court his offer of employment (exhibit C1), staff handbook (exhibit C2), letter of promotion (exhibit C3), suspension letter (exhibit C7) letter of invitation to disciplinary committee (exhibit C8), letter of termination (exhibit C9), statement of account (exhibit C10), CBN operational guidelines for delisting (exhibit C11), and other service documents.

— O.A. Obaseki-Osaghae, J. Ejiro Peter Amratefa v. Access Bank (NICN/ABJ/106/2022, November 2, 2023)

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NOTICE FOR DISMISSAL MUST BE READ INTO CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT

The common law enjoins that even where the contract of employment does not stipulate a notice period, one that is reasonable must be read into the contract of employment. See Akumechiel v. BCC Ltd[1997] (Pt.484) 695 at 703 and Emuwa v. Consolidated Discounts Ltd [2000] LPELR-6871(CA);[2001] 2 NWLR (Pt.697)424. The Supreme Court in Olayinka Kusamotu v. Wemabod Estate Ltd [1976] LPELR-1720(SC); [1976] 9-10 SC (Reprint) 254 stated the law thus: The law is that, generally, the length of notice required for termination of contracts of employment depends on the intention of the parties as can or may be gathered from their contract and in the absence of any express provision, the courts will always imply a term that the employment may be terminated by a reasonable notice (from either of the parties); and even where (as clearly provided in clause 21(c) of “Exhibit “B” for persons still under probation) the employer has power to terminate the contract in his absolute discretion, the law enjoins the employer to give reasonable notice to the employee (see Re-African Association and Allen (1910) 1 KB 396).

— B.B. Kanyip, J. Awogu v TFG Real Estate (2018) – NICN/LA/262/2013 para. 60.

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COURT WILL NOT IMPOSE EMPLOYEE ON EMPLOYER

Ordinarily and consistent with the common law principle, the Court will not impose an employee on an employer.

– Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Chukwumah v. SPDC (1993)

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BAD FAITH IS INCONSEQUENTIAL IN TERMINATION OF CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT

Both in his pleadings and evidence the plaintiff concentrated so much on his allegations of bad faith, hatred, malice etc; but all these are of no consequence in determining whether or not his contract of employment was lawfully terminated by the defendant, considering that no reason was given for the termination.

– Ogundare, JSC. Chukwumah v. SPDC (1993)

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