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WHERE TERMINATION CONTRAVENES STATUTORY PROVISION OR CONTRACT, PARTY WILL BE REINSTATED

Dictum

It is clear from the facts which are not disputed in this appeal, that respondents unilaterally repudiated the contract with the appellants in the letter of termination dated 31st December, 1980. They were in my opinion trying to evade or avoid compliance with the conditions in para. 15 and the procedure in s.17(1). Hill v. CA. Parsons & Co. Ltd. (supra) will definitely apply to such a case as this one. Similarly each of the appellants refused to accept the repudiation, and in letter written the same day clearly so stated. – Exh. P. 16, P.19. In their claim they actually asked for a declaration that the contract was still in existence and that they were still occupying their respective positions in the 1st respondent University. I have no doubts in my mind that this is a situation where it is appropriate for the application of the rule of specific performance. The law has arrived at the stage where the principle should be adopted that the right to a job is analogous to right to property. Accordingly, where a man is entitled to a particular job, I cannot conceive of any juridical or logical reason against the view that where the termination of appointment is invalid and consequently alters nothing as reinstatement of the employee barring legal obstacles intervening between the period of purported dismissal and the date of judgment is the only just remedy. Normally damages are rarely adequate remedies for wrongful dismissal, and where the act relied upon for the dismissal is a contravention of an enabling statutory provision, I have no hesitation in restoring the judgment of the learned trial judge.

— A.G. Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Olaniyan & Ors. v. University of Lagos (1985) – SC.53/1985

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BECAUSE AN EMPLOYER IS A CREATION OF STATUTE DOES NOT MEAN EMPLOYEE IS A CREATION OF STATUTE

It is necessary to also state that the fact that an employer is a creation of statute or statutory body, does not without more, raise the legal status of its employees over and above the normal common law master and servant relationship. Also, the fact that a person is pensionable Federal public servant does not mean that his contract of employment is protected by statute. Whether a contract of employment is governed by statute or not depends on the interpretation of the contractual document or the applicable statute. The character of an appointment and the status of the employee is determined by the legal character of the contract. Contracts of employment are determinable by the agreement of the parties’ simplicita. See the cases of ALHASSAN V. ABU ZARIA [2011] 11NWLR (PT. 1259, 417 @ 464;NITEL V JATTAU [1996] 1 NWLR (PT. 425) 392 CA; INSTITUTE OF HEALTH AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL MANANGEMENT BOARD V MRS JUMMAI R.I ANYIP [2015] 6 ACELR PAGE 27.IMOLOAME V. WAEC (1992) 9 NWLR(PT. 265) 303.

— O. Oyebiola, J. Yakubu v. FRCN (2016) – NIC/LA/673/2013

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SCOPE OF EMPLOYER’S DUTY TO EMPLOYEE INCLUDES TAKING REASONABLE CARE

The law is of common that the scope of an employer’s duty to its employee to take reasonable care for the safety of his workman and other employee in the course of their employment, this duty extends in particular to the safety of place of work, the plant and machinery and the method and conduct of work. Duty of care as an act or omission, has its origin on the concept of foreseeability as decided in the old case of Heaven v. Pencher (1983) 11 QBD 503 at 509 where Bret M.R. said “Whenever one person is by circumstance placed in such a position with regard to another, that everyone of ordinary sense who did think would at once recognise that if he did not use ordinary care and skill in his own conduct with regard to the circumstances he would cause danger, injury to the person or property of the other, a duty arises to use ordinary care skill and avoid such danger.”

— O. Oyewumi, J. Aseidu v Japaul (2019) – NICN/AK/01/2016

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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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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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EMPLOYMENT GOVERNED BY STATUTE & THAT NOT GOVERNED BY STATUTE

In the case of BENIN ELECTRICITY DISTRIBUTION COMPANY PLC. v. ESEALUKA (2013) LPELR-20159(CA) where the court held that: “There is no doubt that there is a vast difference between an employment with statutory flavor in which case the terms of employment of that staff is governed by the statute creating that organization and any infraction of the terms of employment and discipline as guaranteed by the statute is bound to be declared null and void. That is illegal dismissal, where it occurs. In such situations the employee is restored to the position as if no disciplinary measures had been taken at all. See Dr. Taiwo Oloruntoba-Oju & Ors. v. Prof. Shuaib O. Abdul-Raheem & Ors. (2009) 13 NWLR Pt.1157 Pg.83; Bamgboye v. University of Ilorin (1999) 10 NWLR Pt.622 Pg.290. However, 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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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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