The Presiding Judge, Benin Judicial Division, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Adunola Adewemimo has declared the purported dismissal of Joseph Oladunni from employment of Music And Culture Communications as wrongful, ordered firm to pay the sum of Eighty Thousand Naira salary in lieu, One hundred and Fifty-Nine thousand, Three naira only outstanding salaries balance, and N100,000 Naira cost of action within 30 days.
The Court held that the firm failed to justify the claimant’s dismissal and its adherence to the basic tenets of natural justice.
From facts, the claimant- Joseph Oladunni had submitted that he was employed vide a letter dated 18th March, 2016, and was dismissed on the 9th of April, 2018, averred that he was not issued with any query prior to his dismissal, hence the dismissal was wrongful and further that the defendant is owing him arrears of his salaries.
In defence, the defendant- Music And Culture Communications pleaded that the Joseph misconduct imparted negatively on the loyalty and productivity of the station, and continued that the claimant was duly informed of the allegations against him through a telephone conversation to come and air his grievances.
The defendant pleaded that the delay in payment of the claimant’s salaries was due to economic downturn and it has since paid the claimant two months’ salary after the institution of the suit that refusal to honour the invitation sent to him led to his eventual dismissal and posited that an employee may be summarily dismissed without notice and without wages, if he is guilty of gross misconduct.
The defendant further counter-claimed for economic loss and Solicitor fee in the sum of N2,000,000.00k against the claimant.
The claimant in his Reply stated further that he did not exhibit any act of insubordination or disrespect towards any constituted authority while working for the defendant, averred that he was unable to resume his duty because the defendant’s security staff acting on instruction, denied him access to the premises urged the court to dismiss the counter-claim for being frivolous.
Delivering Judgment, the trial Judge held that despite the absence of specified terms on discipline of staff in the contract of employment, the defendant still retains the power to discipline an erring staff in adherance to the basic tenets of natural justice.
“The common concept of our legal jurisprudence is that he who asserts must prove, thus, the defendant having led evidence on the practice of issuing verbal queries and verbal invitation to staff facing a disciplinary procedure for an interface, must adduce evidence in proof of the said practice.
“The issuance of a verbal query to the claimant in the circumstance, considering the serious allegations raised against him is not only perplexing, but the fact that the content of the oral query is not ascertainable from the evidence adduced is also detrimental to the defence in this suit.
“In the light of the above, the defendant failed to justify the claimant’s dismissal and its adherence to the basic tenets of natural justice as encapsulated in the twin pillars of natural justice.”
Lastly, the Court dismissed the counter claim for lack of proof.