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REMOVING SERVANT REGULATED BY STATUTE, MUST GIVE ETERNAL JUSTICE

Dictum

When the employing authority wants to remove its servant on grounds permitted by Statute, then as Lord Campbell, C. J., observed in Exparte Ramshay (1852) 18 Q.B. 173 at p.190 “the principles of eternal justice” will dictate that the servant cannot be lawfully dismissed without first telling him what is alleged against him and hearing his defence or explanation. Even where the servant had, aliunde, personal knowledge of the offence or reason for his removal that was held to be no substitute for hearing the officer’s explanation:- Reg v. Smith (1844) 5 Q.B. 614.

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

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FEDERAL CIVIL SERVICE EMPLOYMENT ARE NOT AT PLEASURE OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

I will hasten to say that it will be a contradiction in terms for a citizen of a Republic, such as Nigeria, to hold his office at the pleasure of the Crown. Which Crown We have no Crown here and public Servants in the established and pensionable cadre of the Federal Government Service are not regarded as employed at the pleasure of the Federal Government. This point was first made in Bashir Alade Shitta-Bey v. The Federal Public Service Commission (1981) 1 SC. 40 at pp. 57/58.

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

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WRONGFUL TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT – WHAT WOULD HAVE EARNED IN THE PERIOD

In NITEL Plc. v. Akwa (2006) 2 NWLR (Pt.964)391 held that: “The law is settled, that where an employee’s appointment is terminated wrongfully or otherwise all he is entitled to is what he would have earned over the period of notice required to lawfully terminate this employment. The amount he is entitled to in his case is one month salary in lieu of notice and no more. See International Drilling Co. (Nig.) Ltd. v. Ajijala (1976) 2 SC 115; Akunforile v. Mobil (1969) NCLR 253; WNDC v. Abimbola (1966) 1 All NLR 159; Nigerian Produce Marketing Board v. Adewunmi (supra).” Per SANUSI, J.C.A (P. 42, paras. A-D).

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WHAT IS A TRIANGULAR EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP

What is a triangular employment relationship? A triangular employment relationship is a situation where the employer arranges for an employee’s placement or assignment with a third party.

— S.J. Adah, JCA. Luck Guard v. Adariku (2022) – CA/A/1061/2020

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WHERE TERMINATION IS WRONGFUL; ONLY REMEDY AVAILABLE IS SALARY IN LIEU

While I have earlier reckoned that the termination of the Claimant’s employment was not in itself wrongful, I must add for the sake of the said relief 7 that even where a termination is wrongful in a master servant employment, the remedy available is to the extent of what the employee would have earned as salary in lieu of notice.

— Z.M. Bashir, J. Gbaraka v Zenith Securities & Anor. (2020) – NICN/PHC/45/2018

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EMPLOYMENT NOT GOVERNED BY STATUTE – EMPLOYEE CAN ONLY CLAIM DAMAGES

In BENIN ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION COMPANY PLC. v. ESEALUKA (2013) LPELR-20159 (CA) held that: “…where the relationship is not governed by statute and there is infraction of the terms of employment and dismissal by the employer, such infraction is merely wrongful and not null and void. The employee can only claim damages for breach of contract and cannot claim arrears of salary and reinstatement. See Eze v. Spring Bank (2011) 12 SC Pt.1 Pg.173; Joseph Ifeta v. SPDC Nig. Ltd. (2006) 8 NWLR Pt.983 Pg.585.” Per OGUNWUMIJU, J.C.A. (Pp.32-33, Paras.B-F).

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TWO INGREDIENTS TO ESTABLISH STATUTORY FLAVOUR CONTRACT

However, it should not be mistaken that once a company, corporation or government agency is set up by statute, all the employees thereof ipso facto became children of statute to the extent that their individual agreement of service with the employer automatically becomes contract with statutory flavour. Two of the vital ingredients that must coexist before a contract of employment may be said to import statutory flavour includes the following:- 1. The employer must be a body set up by statute. 2. The stabilizing statute must make express provision regulating the employment of the staff of the category of the employee concerned especially in matters of discipline. See in this regard Idoniboye-Obu v NNPC (2003) FWLR (Pt.146) 959 at 992; Salami v New Nigerian Newspaper Ltd (1999) 13 NWLR (Pt. 634) pg 315; CBN v Archibong (2001) FWLR (Pt.58) 1032 at 1056; Udemah v Nigerian Civil Corporation (1991) 13 NWLR (Pt.180) 477; Fakuade v O.A.U Complex Management Board (1993) 5 NWLR (Pt.291) 47.

— M.U. Peter-Odili, JSC. Kwara Judicial Commission v Tolani (2019) – SC.63/2010

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