Alleged Disloyalty] Industrial Court validates resignation of Osaro, awards N500k against firm

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The Presiding Judge, Portharcourt Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Faustina Kola-Olalere has dismissed the case filed by Intels Nigeria Limited against her former employee, Mr. Osaro Nwakaji for lacking merit and awarded the sum of N500,000.00 cost of action against the firm.

The Court set aside the purported dismissal of Mr. Osaro Nwakaji by Intels Nigeria Ltd for being wrongful and improper and affirmed his resignation with effect from May 15, 2019.

Justice Kola-Olalere held that Intels Nigeria Ltd failed to satisfy the Court from any term and condition of its contract of service with Mr. Osaro that it was disloyal of him to incorporate Ospat Services while he was in the employment of the firm.

From facts, the claimant- Intels Nigeria Ltd had submitted that Mr. Osaro Nwakaji incorporated/registered Ospat Services with the object of carrying on business similar to the business of its employer while he was still in the employment and service of the firm, contrary to the Terms and Conditions of Service.

The company further averred that Mr. Osaro’s resignation was rejected and he was dismissed, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.

In defense, the 1st defendant- Mr. Osaro Nwakaji maintained that he discharged his duties diligently and was never found culpable or wanting and the Terms and Conditions of Service for Management Staff of Intels Nigeria Limited relied upon by the firm was not in existence at the time he was in employment with the firm.

Submitting further, the 2nd Defendants- Ospat Services maintained that Mr. Osaro was a nominal director in the company, and the business objectives are not the same as that of Intel Nig. Ltd.

Counsel to Mr. Osaro submitted that Intel Nig Ltd did not dismiss Mr. Osaro from employment but he voluntarily resigned from his appointment with the firm, urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety and grant their counter-claim.

In opposition, Counsel to Intel Nig. Ltd submitted that the active participation and promotion of Mr. Osaro in the incorporation/registration of Osat Services while still in the employment and services of the firm, about eighteen (18) years before his resignation from the employment aforesaid, was an act of disloyalty which justified the dismissal of Mr. Osaro by the firm.

In a well-considered judgment, the presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Faustina Kola-Olalere held that Intel Nig. Ltd has failed to prove to the satisfaction of the Court that Mr. Osaro was served with its Terms and Conditions of Service for Management Staff for the year 2018 – 2019 and does not apply to the case.

In addition, Justice Kola-Olalere held that Intel Nig. Ltd did not frontload a copy of its own Memorandum and Articles of Association to enable the Court to compare the objectives of the two companies and to then decide whether or not Osas Services was established to take over the operations of the firm while Mr. Osaro was still in its employment.

On the dismissal of Mr. Osaro after submission of a resignation letter, the court ruled that an employee has an unfettered right to leave employment whenever he likes by voluntary Resignation and his employer cannot stop him.

On the counter claim, the court dismissed Mr. Osaro N15.3m claim for lacking merit and for failure to present to the Court, the terms and conditions of his employment in which his terminal benefits, gratuity and pension are clearly stated.

 

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