IN THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE ENUGU JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT ENUGU
BEFORE HIS LORDSHIP: HON. JUSTICE O.O. AROWOSEGBE
DATE: FRIDAY 20TH SEPTEMBER 2019
MR. OKEBUNACHI EZEKWERE CLAIMANT
NIGERIAN BREWERIES PLC DEFENDANT
2. UGOCHUKWU ONYEKWULUJE WITH UCHENNA MBAEKE.
This suit was commenced by way of Complaint on 25th May 2018. In paragraph 23 of the Statement of Facts [wrongly tagged Statement of Claim], the following reliefs were claimed:
a. A Declaration that the purported resignation of the claimant from his employment as instructed by the defendant which the claimant wrote under duress vide letter dated 17th of January 2017 is wrongful and a breach of the claimant’s contract of employment with the defendant.
b. THE SUM of N150,000,000.00 (One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) general damages for wrongful termination of employment and/or breach of contract of employment.
The defendant reacted to these by filing its Statement of Defence on 10th September 2018. Thereafter, the claimant filed his Reply to the Statement of Defence on 18th September 2018. The summary of the pleadings is as stated below.
SUMMARY OF THE PLEADINGS
A. Statement of Facts
The claimant pleaded that he was originally employed by Consolidated Breweries PLC on 1st July 2005 and his services subsequently transferred to the Nigerian Breweries 1st January 2015, as a result of merger. The claimant pleaded further that, he was an award-winning Area Manager at the Consolidated Breweries and that, he continued as Area Sales Manager at the Nigerian Breweries until the defendant forced him to resign on 17th January 2017. The claimant pleaded a letter wherein the defendant allegedly admitted it forced the claimant to resign. The claimant pleaded that prior to the forced resignation, he was posted to Oji River, a new area of expansion, as a result of his outstanding performance, while he also covered Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi and Delta States at the same time, with Enugu as his base. The claimant pleaded that he exceeded his assigned benchmark in 2015 by 67% and was therefore adjudged the best Area Sales Manager in 2015. The claimant pleaded that this feat was repeated with better performance in 2016, which earned him another award as the best Area Sales Manager in 2016. The claimant pleaded that, he was never issued query but, surprisingly, at the end of the same 2016, one Mr. Okolo Obiora secretly appraised him and passed on the appraisal against the rules of the defendant.
The claimant pleaded that, the crescendo was reached while he was in Lagos on 17th January 2017 for the National Conference and the RBM Mr. Okolo Obiora summoned him to the defendant’s headquarters and instructed the security to force his resignation at gunpoint. The claimant pleaded that, he did not breach the rules of the defendant and was not found wanting at any point. The claimant pleaded that; therefore, the forced resignation was unjustified and amounts to breach of contract. The claimant pleaded further that, as a result, he wrote petitions to the defendant protesting the forced resignation. The claimant pleaded that, as at the time he was forced to resign, he was owed some entitlements. The claimant pleaded that; he ought to have retired in 2028, if not for the forced resignation, which had subjected him to emotional and financial trauma, dented his image; and as such, ought to be redressed. Thus, the Statement of Facts ended. I turn to the Statement of Defence.
B. Statement of Defence
The defendant admitted paragraphs 1, 2, and 11 of the claimant and that paragraph 3 was not within its knowledge. The defendant pleaded that; it did not force the claimant to resign, and that, the claimant resigned voluntarily to preempt termination of his appointment for poor appraisal rating. The defendant admitted receiving the letters pleaded by the claimant in his paragraph 4 but that, it did not admit that the claimant was forced to resign as claimed. The defendant pleaded that, contrary to the averments in paragraph 5 of the claimant, the claimant was posted to Oji routinely; and in reaction to paragraph 6 of the claimant, the defendant said the claimant was not in his employment as at 2014. In reaction to paragraphs 7-10 of the claimant, the defendant pleaded that it never adjudged the claimant the best Sales Manager and he never exceeded his sales targets and that; Personal Business Objective [PBO] is not an award. It was equally pleaded that, the claimant was never an Area Manager in the defendant but an Area Sales Manager. The defendant reacted to paragraph 12 of the claimant, by stating that, the appraisal of Mr. Obiorah Okolo was in tandem with the practice of the defendant.
The defendant pleaded in answer to paragraph 13 of the claimant that, it instructed Mr. Obiorah Okolo to invite the claimant to the headquarters and direct him to meet with the Human Resources Manager after he was rated U, for which he was liable to termination. The defendant pleaded further that, the claimant got angry while he was being briefed by Mr. Okolo and started shouting and that; at that stage, other staff and the security men came in to restrain him when he was about to attack Mr. Okolo; and that, the claimant was not forced to resign under gun or any form of coercion. In reaction to paragraph 16 of the claimant, the defendant pleaded that, while it admits the averments therein, it replied the letters that it could not accede to the request made therein. The defendant reacted to paragraph 17 of the claimant by stating that it had credited the claimant’s account with all his entitlements after the resignation and the claimant had collected his other entitlements alluded to in his paragraphs 18 and 19. In reaction to paragraphs 20 and 21 of the claimant, the defendant pleaded that, the claimant resigned to avoid being terminated; and that, the claimant is not entitled to the claims. Thus, ended the Statement of Defence. I move to the Reply by the claimant.
C. Reply by the Claimant
In reaction to the defence that the claimant was not adjudged the best performing Area Sales Manager, the claimant pleaded that, his new designation, as Area Sales Manager was the reason for his posting to Oji River and that, he had evidence of the cash rewards for his excellence, which were not paid to others. The claimed also pleaded that, he did not shout at Mr. Okolo but refused to sign the resignation letter until overpowered at gunpoint by the security, apparently acting on the directive of Mr. Okolo and that; Human Resources Manager had nothing to do with this. That is all about reaction of the claimant to the new issues raised in the Statement of Defence. The rest of the Reply is tautologous. I move to proceedings before the Court.
The matter came up first before me on 8th January 2019 and was opened on 19th February 2019 with the claimant, who testified as CW1 and adopted his written deposition. All the 17 documents tendered by the claimant were admitted without objection and marked as Exhibits CWA, CWB like that to CWR. Thereafter, cross-examination commenced and closed that same 19th February 2019 without re-examination. The case was thereafter adjourned for defence; and it came up on 9th April 2019. The defence opened with DW1. DW1 adopted his written deposition and tendered exhibits DW1A and B without objection and ended his evidence-in-chief. The case immediately proceeded to cross-examination and ended the same day without re-examination. Thereafter, the case was adjourned to 2nd July 2019 for adoption of final written addresses. On this date, the learned counsel to the parties adopted their respective final written addresses. Thereafter, the case was adjourned to 23rd September 2019 for judgment. That is all about summary of the proceedings before the Court. I now move to the summary of the final written addresses of counsel to the parties.
SUMMARY OF THE FINAL WRITTEN ADDRESSES
A. Final Written address of the Defendant
OGOCHUKWU ONYEKWULUJE franked the defendant’s Final Written Address. The learned counsel formulated two issues for the determination of the case. They are:
1. Whether the Defendant proved that the resignation vide letter dated 17th January, 2017 and admitted in the proceedings as Exh. CWH was not tendered voluntarily and therefore wrongful. [sic]
2. Whether the Claimant is entitled to his claim for damages. [sic]
Under issue1, the learned counsel submitted that, parties are bound by their pleadings and cited some cases in support. The learned counsel argued that, the reason for the claimant’s resignation as stated in the letter of resignation [Exhibit CWH] was that DW1 falsified his target achievement for 2016. The learned counsel submitted that the claimant now changed this, to being forced at gunpoint to resign. The learned counsel submitted that, since the allegation is a criminal, the proof, which is on the claimant, must be beyond reasonable doubt. The learned counsel cited Yakubu v. Yauroyel (2014) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1418) 205 and others. The learned counsel submitted that, the claimant testified on behalf of himself without calling any other witness but tendered Exhibit CWH, the very letter of resignation, which he signed, and which did not mention coercion as the reason for his resignation but simply that, he resigned because Mr. Okolo scored him low on his 2016 target. The learned counsel argued that, this was corroborated in Exhibit CWI [Email to HRD dated 12/01/2018], where again, the claimant did not mention that he was coerced at gunpoint to resign. The learned counsel argued that, it was not until after about a year, and after all payments had been made to the claimant, that he brought up the issue of threat, force and duress via his counsel letter dated 12th January 2018 [Exhibit CWJ] and at that, even at that, he did not mention gun. The learned counsel argued that, the mention of gun came up only when the claimant filed this suit. The learned counsel submitted that, therefore, the allegation of coercion is an afterthought.
The learned counsel argued that, contrary to the evidence of the claimant, the defendant’s story is cogent and consistent by convincingly explaining how the claimant resigned to escape being terminated. The learned counsel argued that, the evidence of Mr. Okolo [DW1] was not challenged under cross-examination but rather sought to cast aspersion on the person of DW1. The learned counsel submitted that, as such, the claimant failed to prove his case. The learned counsel thereafter moved to his issue 2.
Under issue 2, which is on the reliefs claimed, the learned counsel submitted that, since the claimant failed to show that his appointment was wrongfully terminated and in breach of the terms of the contract, his case fails. The learned counsel argued that, the defendant, having shown that the claimant voluntarily resigned his appointment, the case fails. The learned counsel referred to Exhibit CWH. The learned counsel submitted that, there is no evidence in support of the claim for N150,000,000.00. The learned counsel argued that, the Court could not grant this relief when the claimant did not plead and lead evidence of wrongful termination. The learned counsel submitted that, since the claimant did not state the term of his contract that was breached, he could not make a claim for breach of contract. The learned counsel submitted that, the claimant did not tender his terms and conditions of service; and therefore, could not prove the breach of any term. The learned counsel cited Idoniboye-Obu v. NNPC (2003) 2 NWLR (Pt. 865) 589 and others.
The learned counsel went on to argue that, the employer could determine an appointment at any point in time, provided the termination is in line with the contract, and cited Osisanya v. Afribank Nig. Ltd (2007) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1031) 556 and Chukwuma v. SPDC (1993) 4 NWLR (Pt. 289) 52 at 560. The learned counsel submitted that, the claimant having been paid all his benefits after retirement vide exhibits DW1A and DW1B and having equally admitted under cross-examination that he did not challenge the adequacy of the benefits paid, is estopped from claiming damages for breach of contract, especially when his employment was never wrongfully terminated, which could have made him to be otherwise entitled. On the basis of the foregoing, the learned counsel urged the Court to hold that the claimant is not entitled to damages. The learned counsel finally urged that the case be dismissed. That ends the defendant’s final written address. I move to the claimant’s final written address.
B. Claimant’s Final Written Address
EMEKA AWKADIGWE franked the claimant’s final written address. The learned counsel formulated two issues. They are:
1. Whether the claimant tendered his resignation of appointment voluntarily or not. [sic]
2. Whether the claimant is entitled to judgment upon the reliefs claimed in the instant proceedings. [sic]
Arguing issue 1, the learned counsel submitted that, the resignation was involuntary. The learned counsel argued that, the circumstances of the case and the evidence of the claimant under cross-examination, when he maintained that he was forced to resign at gunpoint and that he protested this in his letter captioned “Unjust Forced Resignation” showed that, he did not resign voluntarily. The learned counsel argued that, this evidence under cross-examination was not rebutted; and that, the Court is thus, entitled to act on it. The learned counsel submitted on the issue of proof beyond reasonable doubt that, it does not mean proof beyond every shadow of doubt, and cited some cases. The learned counsel argued that, the claimant proved his case beyond reasonable doubt; and that, the evidence of DW1 for the defence corroborated that of the claimant, when DW1 admitted under cross-examination that he was the one who called the claimant to come to the head office and not the Human Resources Director, as it wasn’t the duty of the DW1 to inform the claimant of poor performance. The learned counsel submitted that, the admission of DW1 that he secretly assessed the claimant and further, in paragraph 16 of his written deposition that, security men were at the scene of the resignation proved the forced resignation.
The learned counsel argued that, the admission of DW1 that, he DW1, compulsorily retired showed he was retired for his role in forcing the claimant to resign on gunpoint. The learned counsel argued that, Exhibit CWL stated that, the claimant was asked to retire but did not state in what manner this message was passed across to the claimant. The learned counsel submitted that, this omission signifies that he was asked to resign at gunpoint. The learned counsel submitted that, it was not the duty of the defendant’s staff to negotiate whether a staff should resign or get his appointment terminated when there is condition of service. The learned counsel submitted that, because DW1 testified falsely, he should not be accorded credence; and cited Nnajiofor v. Ukonu (1968) 4 NWLR (Pt. 36) 505. The learned counsel submitted further that, from the evidence adduced, it is clear that, the claimant never wanted to resign save the duress.
The learned counsel argued further that, the evidence of DW1 that the claimant had been paid 2 months salaries in lieu of notice is fallacious, if in deed the claimant resigned voluntarily because, it is the claimant that ought to have paid the defendant one month salary in lieu of notice instead, since he was the one that resigned. The learned counsel referred to Article 22, paragraph b of the Employee Handbook [herein called handbook] The learned counsel argued further that, the speed at which the purported resignation was accepted the same day it was allegedly made by the defendant is signification of the duress. The learned counsel cited Ehimiyein v. The State (2016) LPELR-4084 (SC) to the effect that, a court could convict on the evidence of a single witness, once it is cogent. The learned counsel cited Article 13 of section B of the Handbook to show that, contrary to the argument of the defendant; unsatisfactory performance does not lead to termination of appointment in the defendant. The learned counsel argued that, the provisions of Article 30 of section E of the Handbook, which mandated that the defendant to give certificate of employment to confirmed employee had not been complied with by the defendant.
The learned counsel argued further that, the requirement of Article 46 of the Handbook was equally not complied with in that, the defendant did not communicate directly with the claimant nor posted the complaint against him on the notice board as provided; and as such, the actions of DW1 was in bad faith. The learned counsel cited Savannah Bank PLC v. CBN (2009) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1137) 237 on bad faith. The learned counsel submitted that, parties are bound by their pleadings and the contract entered into and that, the evidence of the claimant is consistent with his pleadings contrary to the argument of the defence counsel; and that, the two letters of January 17 2017 and April 4 2017 had the theme of unjust resignation; and that, as such, the claimant did not resign voluntarily. The learned counsel ended arguments on issue 1 at this stage and moved to issue 2.
Under issue 2, which relates to the reliefs claimed, the learned counsel argued that, wrongful termination leads to damages; and cited Baker v. Denkero Ashanti Mining Corporation Ltd (1903) 20 TLR 37 and some other cases. The learned counsel argued that, the claimant had proved that the defendant breached the contract with him. The learned counsel argued that, the fact that the claimant won the 4Quarters of PBO in 2016 proved that, his performance could not be unsatisfactory; and that, the averment of the claimant that, he was never issued a query was not controverted and therefore, deemed admitted. The learned counsel referred to Muomah v. Enterprise Bank Ltd (2015) Legalpedia CA JFV5. The learned counsel submitted that; the claimant having been forced to resign, is entitled to the reliefs claimed. The learned counsel submitted that, even unsatisfactory performance could not have been a reason for termination, as the Handbook, which listed, in Article 23 of section E, the grounds on which employees could be terminated, did not list underperformance, as one of the grounds; and that, all payments made to the claimant are payments made to terminated staff.
The learned counsel also submitted that, failure of the defendant to communicate to the claimant the result of his appraisal amounts to breach of fair hearing. The learned counsel argued too, that general damages flow naturally from breach of contract and need not be proved. The learned counsel cited UBA v. Udusip (2014) Legalpedia CA Y13R and another case on this. Thus, ended the final written address of the claimant. I move to the Reply on Points of Law of the defendant.
C. Reply on Points of Law
OGOCHUKWU ONYEKWULUJE franked the Reply on Points of Law for the defendant. The learned counsel submitted that, the claimant and the defendant did not plead nor tender the Handbook. The learned counsel argued that, as such, the Court could not fish for this document. The learned counsel cited section 86(i) of the Evidence Act to the effect that, primary evidence, such as the Handbook, must be produced for the inspection of the Court. The learned counsel also cited Agbi v. Agbe (2005) 8 NWLR (Pt. 8) 926, 40, r. 16 and some other authorities. The learned counsel argued that, the assertion that the claimant’s right of fair hearing was breached was misconceived, in that, section 36 of the 1999 Constitution is only applicable to one accused of crime and that, the claimant herein was not accused of any crime. There ended the reply on points of law. I shall now proceed to give my decision.
But before delving into it, I wish to state the very obvious a judge is obliged to state in any judgment. I have most carefully perused all the processes connected with the suit and digested them, especially the pleadings. I have equally taken in the testimonies of witnesses as contained in their written depositions and the cross-examinations. I vividly recollect the demeanours of the witnesses and formed my impressions thereon. I have also most painstakingly perused the most relevant of the authorities cited. I am aware that I did not summarise the evidence before the Court, but I have nonetheless carefully studied it and digested same. I shall make references to relevant portions as the needs arise in the instant case.
As the issues formulated by both sides are similar, I adopt those of the claimant for the resolution of this case. They are:
1. Whether the claimant tendered his resignation of appointment voluntarily?
2. Whether the claimant is entitled to judgment upon the reliefs claimed in the instant proceedings?
In taking issue 1, it needs be determined at the outset, where the pendulum of law swings with regard to burden of proof where allegations of duress are made in contracts. I place guidance in the decision of the Supreme Court in Bua v. Dauda (2003) LPELR-810 (SC) 18-20, D-D, where it was held:
“Undue influence takes different forms. This could manifest in the variety of circumstances in which trickery or coercion can be employed in human affairs. In other cases, it depends on special relationship in which presumption of undue influence may reasonably be inferred. In Allcard v, Skinner (Supra) at p. 171, Cotton, LJ, classified cases of undue influence into two and said as follows: ‘First, where the court has been satisfied that the gift was the result of influence expressly used by the donee for the purpose; and second, where the relations between the donor and donee have at or shortly before the execution of the gift been such as to raise a presumption that the donee had influence over the donor. In such a case the court sets aside the voluntary gift, unless it is proved that in fact the gift was the spontaneous act of the donor acting under circumstances which enabled him to exercise an independent will and which justifies the court in holding that the gift was the result of free exercise of the donor’s will. The first class of cases may be considered as depending on the principle that no one shall be allowed to retain any benefit arising from his own fraud or wrongful act. In the second class of cases the court interferes, not on the ground that any wrongful act has been committed by the donee, but on the ground of public policy, and to prevent the relations which existed between the parties and the influence arising therefrom being abused…the law is that the burden is on the donee or purchaser to show the righteousness of the transaction. He is entitled as of right, as said by Lord Browne-Wilkinson in C.I.B.C. Mortgage Plc v. Pitt (supra) at page 209, to have it set aside as a matter of public policy; and also the case of Allcard v. Skinner (supra) at page 171 per Cotton, LJ, and page 183 per Lindley, LJ. In Ashburner on equity, 2nd Edn., at page 299, the learned author gave this illustration: ‘In a Court of equity, if A obtains any benefit from B, whether under contract or as a gift, by exerting an influence over which, in the opinion of the Court, prevents B from exercising an independent judgment in the matter in question, B can set aside the contract or recover the gift. Moreover in certain cases the relation between A and B may be such that A has peculiar opportunities of exerting influence over B. If under such circumstance A enters into a contract with B, or receives a gift from B, a Court of equity imposes upon A the burden, if he wishes to maintain the contract or gift, of proving that in fact he exerted no influence for the purpose of obtaining it.” [Underlines for emphasis]
It would appear from the above that, the Supreme Court of Nigeria did not make a distinction between undue influence and duress [coercion]; and as such, the term ‘undue influence’ is employed in broad manner to cover both. In fact, this view was brilliantly expatiated with approval in First City Monument Bank PLC v. Benbok Limited (2014) LPELR-23505 (CA) 66-68, F-F, where the summary of the excerpts is that, the doctrines overlap today, the work of one having been taken over by the other. This also appears to be the view adopted in Isa v. Gamandi (2014) LPELR-23239 (CA) 51-53, F-A. It is therefore on this understanding that this case would be decided.
The learned counsel to the defence had made heavy issue on the burden of proof; claiming that, because, the allegations raised against the defendant are criminal in nature; they must be proved beyond reasonable doubt notwithstanding that this is a civil suit. I agree with the learned counsel to the extent that this is the position of law in ordinary cases where criminal allegations are the foundation of a civil case but there are exceptions. Rarely does it occur that, there is a legal principle without exception. The doctrine only holds to the extent that the particular case does not fall within one of the exceptions. One of such exceptions is where the law inverses the burden of proof in a particular instance. The above authorities give exceptions, where issue of coercion [duress] and undue influence are the crux of a civil case: the burden of proof is inverted. It is shifted on the defence to rebut the presumption or prima facie allegations of duress and undue influence, and in that situation, the proof would be on the balance of probability, and not beyond reasonable doubt. The claimant only needs to make out a prima facie case in its pleadings and evidence – see University of Jos v. Yemtet (2016) LPELR-40434 (CA) 29-33, F-A. The defence has to prove that the contract was validly made without duress or undue influence. And what this translates to in law is that, the defence has the duty to tender any document that would assist it to discharge this burden.
It is only after this has been done that the burden shifts back to the claimant. This burden is not static. Once the defendant lifts the burden on it, it shifts to the claimant to disprove it by cogent and contrary evidence. Now, the prima facie allegation, as contained in the pleadings and evidence, is that, the claimant was forced, albeit on gunpoint, to sign letter of resignation against his will. It is the duty of the defence to dislodge this allegation by pleading and evidence; and if it is necessary for its defence, to tender the defendant’s conditions of service [Handbook] and any other policy book of the defendant that buttress its case; if it must succeed.
However, I hold that while it might not be compulsory for the claimant to tender the conditions of service or the handbook in the instant case, it might be desirable to do so, and where any relief is based on the handbook which is not tendered, it might not be grantable, unless justified by other rules or principles of law or if tendered by the defendant who has the primary duty to tender it in the instant case. Let me state too that, it is not only by tendering of the handbook that terms and conditions of service are established. The letter of appointment also contains terms and conditions of service, and if sufficient to prove the issue in dispute, it is the party who needs the handbook to prove its case that shoulders the responsibility, especially in a case like this. Let me equally clear the erroneous argument of the learned counsel to the defendant that it is only when allegation of crime is made against an employee that the issue of fair hearing or section 36 of the Constitution comes in. This argument is very preposterous and cannot be valid – see National Judicial Council & Ors v. Aladejana (2014) LPELR-24134 (CA) 45, A-E, where it was held:
“Section 36(1) of the Constitution of Nigeria provides as follows; ‘In the determination of his civil rights and obligation including any question or determination of his civil rights and obligation including any question or determination by or against any government or authority a person shall be entitled to fair hearing within a reasonable time by a Court or other tribunal established to secure its independence and impartiality”. The above gives constitutional teeth or flavour to the twin pillars of natural justice, viz; (1) Audi alterem partem and (ii) [sic] Nemo Judex in causa sua. The requirements apply not only to courts of law or Tribunals [sic] only but also to administrative bodies acting judicially in the determination or imposition of decisions that are likely to affect the civil rights and obligations of a person. Such bodies are bound to strictly observe the principles of fair hearing…’”
By this authority, it is clear that section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and the doctrine of fair hearing is applicable to both civil and criminal allegations. It is applicable to civil cases where the decision to terminate is to be based on a reason. The employer is under duty to justify such reason notwithstanding that the employment relation is one of master-servant – see SPDC V. OLAREWAJU  LPELR – 3046 [SC] thus:
“The guiding principle which has been articulated and applied in many cases including Olatunbosun V. N.I.S.E.R. Council  1 NSCC 1025;  3 NWLR [Pt. 80] 25, is that an employer is not bound to give reasons for terminating the appointment of his employee. But where, as in this case, he gives a reason or cause for terminating the appointment, the law imposes on him a duty to establish the reason to the satisfaction of the court”. [See p. 19 paras E – G]
Analogically, the defence has the burden to prove the sanctity of the purported resignation; and absence of fair hearing before the purported resignation, which is being challenged, might signify duress and undue influence. Be that as it may, I come back to the real issue. In this, paragraphs 5, 6, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 of the written deposition of the DW1 for the defence, are relevant. The gist is that, the claimant resigned voluntarily to stave off being terminated for unacceptable underperformance; and that, because the claimant became violent and wanted to attack the DW1, who had the duty to brief the claimant of his underperformance as assessed by DW1, staff and security men nearby rushed in to safe the situation; and that, security men in the defendant do not carry guns. The DW1 for the defence went on to tender Exhibits DW1A and DW1B to show that; the claimant had collected his entire terminal benefits. It was the evidence of the defence too that, the claimant subsequently wrote to plead for the withdrawal of his resignation.
The defence counsel has argued that, the issue of gunpoint resignation is an afterthought raised for the first time at the institution of this suit. It was the contention of the defence too, that, once a Manager in the defendant underperforms and scores U in the performance ratings, he is liable to be terminated in accordance with the policy of the defendant, as contained in the Performance Appraisal Rating Guideline. I take note that the DW1 did not say which part of the defendant’s Handbook or the said Guideline says, once a Manager underperforms and graded U, s/he is liable to be terminated. The defence should know that, since the burden of proof to justify the absence of duress and undue influence is on it, it is its duty to tender the conditions of service or the said Guideline and not primarily that of the claimant in the instant case, who only needs to establish a prima facie case by reason of the inversion of the burden of proof. That is the essence of shifting the burden of proof; otherwise, the so-called shifting of burden of proof would be illusory. But for now, that is not germane.
What is germane is that, it appears that; the defence alludes to inconsistency in the case of the claimant. Because, having pleaded the claimant’s letters for reconsideration of his alleged voluntary resignation and produced evidence that, the claimant had collected his terminal benefits then, it follows that, issue of inconsistency and waiver were raised against the claimant. The defendant also led evidence that the claimant collected the terminal benefits without protest. The DW1 maintained this stance under cross-examination. The defence has therefore discharged the initial burden on it and thus, shifted the burden to the claimant. Now, the claimant tendered the letter of resignation and the letters of protest against the resignation. The defence has cited these letters in their defence along with the evidence of payment of the terminal benefits of the claimant. Let me say straight away that, I cannot find any inconsistency in the case of the claimant. If the claimant said he was forced to resign and the defendant on its own volition without the promptings of the claimant, paid his terminal benefits, the claimant could not be blamed for this. The defendant cannot be allowed to benefit from its wrong. I am aware of authorities like Ex Captain Ekeagwu v. The Nigerian Army & Anor (2006) LPELR-7641 (2006) 16-17, F-F, where it was held that, once an employer accepts retirement benefits, he is estopped from raising issue of wrongful retirement. A case is an authority on the facts presented – Aizeboje v. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (2017) LPELR-42894 (CA) 20-21, D-B.
A situation where the employer wrongfully terminates an appointment should be distinguished from where she forced an employee to write a letter of resignation. In the first instance, the employer has the right at all times to determine the contract, especially in master-servant relations but in the second scenario, the employer totally lacks the power to exercise duress and undue influence to compel the other side to resign. The law and public policy forbid an employer from using such arm-twisting tactics in contracts. I cannot equally see any waiver for the same reason; and for the additional reason that, the alleged forced resignation occurred on 17th January 2017 [Exhibit CWH] and the first email-letter of protest was written 18th January 2017 at precisely 10:44 AM [Exhibit CWI]. This repudiation was prompt enough to show that the claimant refused to accept the alleged forced resignation. And the said terminal benefits were paid long after this letter of protest – see Exhibits DW1A and DW1B. Exhibit DW1A, which is the Final Statement of Account stating the terminal benefits of the claimant was made on 23rd February 2017 while Exhibit DW1B, by which these benefits were paid into the claimant’s account was dated 13th March 2017. There is no evidence before the Court that there was any settlement of the dispute.
When the defendants realised that the claimant’s solicitor wrote two further letters of protest on this issue, the second of which was written 19th February 2018 [Exhibit CWK], it is clear that the claimant did not intend to trade off his right. And since the claimant claimed damages in the case, I do not think it is even wrong for him to hold on to the payments as lien. It should be remembered in any event, the claimant is entitled to terminal benefits whether or not this case goes against him; and the defence is not challenging the payments it made by itself. The effect is that in whatever event, the claimant would have to retain the payment and possibly earn higher if adjudged to be entitled to further damages. I therefore firmly hold that no waiver or inconsistency is proved against the claimant. I come back to the main issue: whether the claimant was forced to write the letter of resignation.
The letter of resignation and the letters of protest are therefore very germane to the determination of this issue. They are in fact the primary documents to be examined to determine the issue of duress and undue influence that called for determination in this case. The letter of resignation is Exhibit CWH. The letter, which was addressed to the Human Resources Manager and in long hand, signed by the claimant, reads:
“Resignation of My Appointment as Area Sales Manager
I write to resign my appointment as an Area Manager based on my RBM mr [sic] Okolo Obiora disputable claim on my 2016 target achievement.
I achieved my 2016 target with 130% growth over 2015 and earned all the qtrs PBO last – record is available.” [Underline supplied for emphasis]
The letters of protest are Exhibits, CWI [made up of email-letter dated Jan. 18, 2017 and another email dated April 4, 2017], CWJ and CWK [solicitor’s letters of protest]. Now, the gist of exhibit CWI, authored by the claimant himself is that, Mr. Obiora Okolo’s false and secret appraisal of his 2016 performance forced him out of the employment and that, it was actuated by hatred. He stated that he had never received query, and asked for a revisit of the appraisal. He then asked the defendant to employ its rules to look into this and reappraise him. In Exhibits CWJ the same thing was repeated, except that the words duress and threat were employed for the first time. Exhibit CWJ and the earlier letters of protest were replied in Exhibits CWL and CWM. The gist of the replies being that, the claimant was asked to resign instead of being terminated because he was rated U, which was too low; and that, once a manager is rated with such unacceptable mark in the defendant, the punishment is outright termination under the Performance Appraisal Rating Guideline.
From the above, I found that the defendant admitted asking the claimant to resign or be terminated outright. It relied on the Performance Appraisal Guideline, as the authority for its action in asking the claimant to resign, yet did not tender this very document to convince the Court that it formed part of the contract between the parties. This is an admission against self-interest. This supports the case of the claimant that his resignation was not voluntary – Oshafunmi & Anor v. Adepoju & Anor (2014) LPELR-23073 (CA) 62, D-F. In fact, the so-called letter of resignation is itself not a proper letter of resignation. It is actually a letter of protest, which would have prompted any reasonable employer to commence an investigation instead of accepting the purported resignation. The claimant indicated clearly in the alleged letter of resignation that he was resigning because of dispute on his performance ratings, which was falsified to his disadvantage by Mr. Okolo Obiora contrary to available records. Any employer, who is not complicit in the game, would have been alerted to the foul play and tarry to investigate the allegations in the purported letter of resignation, which in substance, is a letter of protest signifying involuntary resignation. Yet, this very same day with alacrity, the defendant proceeded to accept the clear protest of being forced to resign as letter of resignation, ignoring all the potent allegations of duress and undue influence contained in it. This in itself alone proves conspiracy of the management cadre of the defendant in forcing the claimant to resign against his wish. And from the allegations, it is very clear that, the claimant was not resigning voluntarily but rather under serious protest.
I also found that the DW1 admitted secretly appraising the claimant and the defendant based its decision to ask the claimant to resign on this secret appraisal. The claimant was not shown how the appraisal was arrived at. I found too, and significant, that the defendant admitted that it asked the claimant to resign or be terminated outright. The claimant had disputed this appraisal and said it was actuated by malice. What then is the implication of the admission that the claimant was asked to resign? From the available evidence before the Court, I could not find that the claimant was asked to resign at gunpoint because, the first time the issue of gunpoint would be mentioned was when the Statement of Facts in this case was filed. To establish being forced at gunpoint to write the resignation letter, the case of the claimant must be consistent from the beginning on this; and the issue of being forced at gunpoint must have been raised at the earliest time. The omission on the part of the claimant to mention the issue of being forced at gunpoint to write the resignation letter nullifies the allegation of being coerced at gunpoint to resign; and I so hold. I hold too that, it is an afterthought. But the issue of being coerced or unduly influenced to resign does not end there.
I come back to the issue of the admission by the defendant that it actually asked the claimant to resign to avoid being sacked for underperformance. I want to point out that the claimant only needs to establish prima facie case when issues of duress and undue influence are in question. And in doing this, he doesn’t need the conditions of service, as the fact of duress and undue influence is external to the contract between the parties and fixed by law or restrained by law. The proof required of the claimant is therefore not dependent on the conditions of service or terms of the contract but simply on whether there is duress and undue influence. It means no contract could sanction duress and undue influence by making provisions permitting them in the conditions and terms of service or by justifying it in its policy. That is why the law places on the beneficiary of contract tainted with allegations of duress or undue influence [the defendants in the instant case] to justify that such contract was entered into without violation of the law [duress or undue influence]; and in justifying the sanctity of such contract, it is the duty of the beneficiary [in this case the defendant] to produce evidence in proof of absence of these vitiating factors. Now, the defendant who, through DW1, claimed it had an agreement with the claimant in its Performance Appraisal Guideline to terminate a manager who is scored U [unacceptably low mark] failed to tender this very document. Secondly, the defendant admitted through DW1 that it asked the claimant to resign or be terminated; and that, the claimant actually had an altercation with DW1 over the issue but failed to show how, eventually the claimant resigned voluntarily, without being forced.
If DW1 said the claimant did not get to the human resources manager before he made the scene in question, how did he eventually resign? And why did he make the scene? If he was protesting suspicion of being forced to resign, how did he eventually resign voluntarily; especially when the resignation letter was written and submitted the same day he protested? The defendant has a duty to show these, and its case is made more precarious in that the claimant still maintained in the purported letter of resignation that he was not resigning willingly but under protest. The purported letter of resignation is everything but letter of voluntary resignation. The mere fact that the claimant wrote and signed it does not make it voluntary.
I do not know how it became the defendant’s business to ask the claimant in his self-interest to choose the option of resignation over termination, if it indeed has the right to terminate the claimant for underperformance and if indeed, the claimant truly underperformed, as claimed. If the claimant underperformed to the level that makes him liable for termination, where is the evidence that the rating and how it was arrived at was brought to the notice of the claimant and the claimant given the opportunity to react? The absence of this shows the falsity in the defendant defence and showed that, it actually threatened the claimant to resign or be terminated with all the unsavoury consequences of termination for inefficiency on the future employability of the claimant. When the defendant took it upon itself to take over the function of thinking for the claimant as to what was in his interest, it is not difficult to come to the conclusion that its admitted overzealousness is evidence of exerting coercion and undue influence on the claimant to resign against the law. The mere fact that coercion [duress] at gunpoint was not proved does not detract from the fact that duress by other means was proved.
In the circumstances, it shows that the claimant did not exercise his free will to resign. If the claimant was asked to resign or be sacked without first resolving the issue concerning the controversial appraisal by DW1, it is clear too that, the claimant was not given fair hearing before being coerced by threat of outright termination to resign; and I so hold. This Court undoubtedly has the burdened jurisdiction [see section 254C-(1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution] to prevent unfair labour practices and ensure that Nigeria is in tandem with the comity of nations on issues of international best practices in employment and labour relations. The scenario above, apart from being a good example of duress and undue influence, is also a classical example of unfair labour practice and should be deprecated. It is therefore totally unjust and unfair to allow an employer to toy with the employment fortunes of employees by threatening them to resign to avoid being sacked for unjustified reasons. In the case at hand, I found that the defendant could not justify the assessment it allegedly made on the claimant and on which its decision to ask the claimant to resign stemmed from. It failed to tender the Policy Guideline and the said assessment, and did not call the Human Resources Manager to testify, as to how the claimant wrote his resignation letter. I equally found this under cross-examination of DW1:
“Q: 2016 is made up of quarters?
Q: He won all these quarters?
DW1: He won the personal business objectives for quarters 1, 2, 3, & 4.
Q: You said he was rated U? And you called to tell him? Performance is only related to payment to be made to the beneficiaries as contained in the benefits for management staff and miscellaneous employment conditions?
DW1: PBO is for purpose of inducement. What Nigerian Breweries use for appraisal is annual work plan. Everybody signs it at the beginning of the year.” [Underline supplied for emphasis]
DWI did not tender the said Annual Work Plan allegedly signed by the claimant to show that the claimant did not really meet the target set for him. When the above is construed with Exhibits CWF and CWG the falsehood in DW1’s evidence would be realised. By Exhibit CWF, clearly, the claimant exceeded the target set for him while Exhibit CWG showed that, amongst all his numerous contemporaries he was one of the only three that earned the maximum incentive of N400,000. I wonder why the company would create such goal-target incentive if not to bait the employees to achieve the set targets and continue to maintain competitive performance that would eventually be used in the assessment of their overall performance. It should be noted that this incentive is earned in that it is only given after achieving the set targets and not before. I don’t know how the defendant could justify that it consistently gave the maximum of the competitive-earned incentives to the claimant for four consecutive quarters in 2016 and yet claimed that it was not a price or reward or award for excellence and that; different criteria is yet used to assess performance of the same claimant it had adjudged for excellent performance and rewarded for the four consecutive quarters of 2016. The question may be asked, if the defendant gives incentive to encourage its staff to underperform! It does not need a mathematician to detect the illogicality of the DW1’s theory. It is totally abhorrent to reason and rationality such that, no reasonable tribunal can act on it – see Access Bank PLC v. Albabaminu International Ltd & Ors (2016) LPELR-41605 (CA) 36-37, F-C, where the Court of Appeal held, and I quote:
“It is trite that a Court of law must shun a testimony that is extraordinarily in conflict with reason and probability and is of such a nature that it is hostile to reason as manifestly false; the Court should not lend itself to unwholesome belief…the Supreme Court said that where the statement or evidence of a witness is of such obvious exaggerated proportions that it enters into the realm of either fantasy or is an affront to intelligence or is reckless in its utterance, it should be ignored, treated with utmost contempt and rejected in its entirety.”
It beats all logic for the DW1 to claim that the personal targets objectives, which the claimant surpassed and earned the awards for the four consecutive quarters of 2016, are not related to the data, which the company would eventually use in computing the overall performance of its staff. The answer of the DW1 under cross-examination puts logic on its head and could not be believed by any reasonable tribunal, more so, in the absence of any document from the defendant to support this weird claim. The DW1 neither tendered the very assessment in issue nor the said Policy Guideline that purportedly sanctioned this illogical, monstrous and malicious policy of the defendant. It is also of focal importance to note that, the DW1 for the defence admitted that the claimant won the incentives for the four quarters of 2016 and he was paradoxically asked to resign for unsatisfactory performance on 17th January 2016! Any reasonable person would smell rat. Or was the claimant asked to resign for performing excellently! This plainly showed that the appraisal for which the claimant was threatened to resign was in relation to the same 2016 wherein the claimant earned incentives for the four quarters for his brilliant performance! Home come? The claimant could not have been assessed 2017 by 17th January of 2017 when he was forced to resign. It means he was forced to resign for no just reason. And I so hold.
From the above, it is clear that the underperformance for which the claimant was asked to resign was not proved. When the claimant was asked to resign or be terminated, the threat is barely disguised. Since the defendant stated that there was a marked disadvantage in being terminated, then, the threat of reaping that disadvantage was sufficiently potent enough to create fear to make the claimant act against his free will. Thus, the defendant must be held to be implying that it would dismiss the claimant whereby he would lose all the terminal benefits and incur the stigma of having being dismissed for inefficiency, which would have negative effects on his future employability. It shows that the circumstances surrounding the alleged voluntary resignation of the claimant was very unwholesome and leave much to be desired. The law has made progress from the parlous state of employees under common law, where employees were treated as slaves. The Court must not lend itself to any unwholesome practice by employers of labour that tends to erase the gains made by the law in protecting the rights of employees.
This practice, whereby employers of labour in the private sector would invent ingenious means to sidetrack the law to force employees to resign in order to deprive them of the full benefits of the contracts running their full courses should be nipped in the bud, otherwise, employment relations return to their pristine parlous state for employees. In fact, this Court has held in cases of mere termination that the alacrity with which the termination was carried out was suggestive of the fact that the claimant did something utterly wrong and attached the claimant with a stigma that could affect his employability – see an unreported decision of this Court in Suit No. NICN/AB/2012 – Omoudu v. Obayan & 4 Ors (Delivered 08/10/2014). In the suit, this Court stated the position of law thus:
“In Industrial Cartons Ltd v. NUPAPPW (2006) 6 NLLR (Pt. 15) 258, a case of wrongful termination of employment, where it was decided that one month salary in lieu of notice would not meet the justice of the case. The Court frowned at the peremptory manner by which the Claimant’s appointment was terminated which it believed had the effect of suggesting that the Claimant did something wrong. The Court awarded six months salaries as meeting the justice of the case.”
It follows too, that, the claimant was threatened to resign for no just cause. The implication of the coercive resignation is that the claimant, having not exercised his free will to resign, did not resign. He remains in the employment of the defendant. The defendant obliquely accepted its wrong doings when it paid the claimant two months salaries in lieu of notice because, it knew it was the one who forced the claimant to resign abruptly against his wish and for no just cause; and for that reason, assumed the role of the one who terminated the appointment by paying for termination without notice, instead of the claimant paying for resigning without notice, if indeed, he voluntarily resigned. In fact, failure of the claimant to give notice or pay in lieu thereof, apart from all other causes, nullifies the purported resignation in itself – see Aokeodo v. IGP (1999) 6 NWLR (Pt. 607) 467 at 489, B-C, which held that, notice of retirement with immediate effect without notice or payment in lieu thereof, is in effective. And the assumption of the burden of the claimant by the defendant to pay the salaries in lieu of notice to a person who allegedly resigned voluntarily cannot cure this defect. It additionally puts a toga of illogicality to the defence that the claimant voluntarily resigned. It showed that the defendant was being smart by half and thus, failed to successfully cover its tracks.
This forced resignation cannot stand. It is void ab initio. The purported letter of resignation is therefore a nullity. It must be set aside. It is hereby set aside. The implication of voiding the forced resignation is that the claimant did not resign and since the defendant has not terminated his appointment, he remains in the employment of the defendant. Employers of labour in Nigeria must be discouraged from employing series of unwholesome and arm-twisting methods and means to force employees out of service in total disregard of Nigerian laws and public policy. In effect, I resolve issue 1 in favour of the claimant and against the defendant. I move to issue 2.
Issue 2 deals with the reliefs claimed. Implied in my holding above is that the claimant is logically entitled to relief a. The claimant tendered his letter of transfer of service to the defendant [Exhibit CWB] made up of three separate documents, the third of which document is titled “Nigerian Breweries Plc Benefits For Management Staff and Miscellaneous Employment Conditions” provides at the subheading titled “Resignation Notice Period” three-month notice or payment in lieu for termination. The first document, which is titled “Transfer of Employment…” also provides at paragraph 6 that, the defendant may summarily dismiss where the employee is guilty of insubordination or conduct inconsistent with the welfare of the company. From the scenario in this case, it is clear that, the claimant did not fall foul of any of these rules while the defendant are guilty of both. In any case, tendering of terms and conditions of employment is not necessary in the instant case to establish duress and undue influence, which have been established in this case; since duress and undue influence are by law and public policy prohibited in contract, once they are established, breach of contract is established. In view of this, the claimant is eminently entitled to relief a.
With regard to relief b, which deals with the grant of general damages, whereby the claimant asked for N150Million; since I have held that the resignation letter is void then, the claimant remains in the service of the defendant until the defendant terminates his employment by lawful means. I take note that this is a common law employment where the defendant retains the right to terminate at any time provided the terms of the contract were complied with; and in the absence compliance with the terms of employment, damages are paid. The courts do not usually grant general damages in master-servant employment but do, where the circumstance warrants; and I am of the view that the circumstance of this case warrants the grant of general damages – see Omoudu v. Obayan & 4 Ors. [supra]. The case here is that, the defendant did not terminate the claimant and has not terminated him up till now, and the alleged resignation had been declared forced and voided. But I take note too, that the Court does not normally order reinstatement in master-servant employment. I therefore will not order reinstatement in the instant case. In any case, the claimant did not ask for reinstatement.
The implication of holding that the claimant remained in the employment of the defendant till the determination of this case, is that, he is entitled to damages covering the period of forced resignation till the determination of this case, which is calculable by what he would have earned till the determination of this suit had the forced resignation not occurred. I hold, by virtue of the powers conferred on me under section 14 of the National Industrial Court Act 2006 and section 254C – (1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution [as altered] that, the claimant remained in the employment of the defendant till the determination of this case and therefore entitled to his arrears of salaries till the determination of this suit. It is not even unknown under common law that in appropriate cases, the courts hold that an employee not lawfully terminated remains in the service of the employer till the determination of the suit and ordered the employer to pay damages measured in terms of the salaries deemed earned – see an unreported decision of this Court, in Suit No. NIC/EN/105/2013 - Enyidede v. Roche Construction Nigeria Limited & Anor [Delivered at Owerri Division February 10, 2015] Per Anuwe J held at p. 18 thereof, where this Court, relying on the Court of Appeal’s decision in Mobil Producing Nig. Unlimited v. Udo (2008) LPELR-8440 (CA) held, and I quote with approval:
“In this case of MOBIL PRODUCING NIG. UNLTD vs. UDO, it was the opinion of the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal that during suspension, the employment continues to subsist and the employee is entitled to his salaries during the period except there is a condition of service which permits the employer to stay payment during period of suspension. In a contract of employment, there is no implied contractual right on the part of employer to suspend an employee without pay on disciplinary grounds. For there to be no pay, it must be expressly stated in the contract of service between the parties… Further more, whether an employer has power to suspend an employee depends on the terms of the contract of employment. Suspension will be wrongful if the employer has no power to suspend given the contract, in such a case, the employee is entitled to wages he lost by being suspended…
In this case, there is no evidence before this court [sic] that there is any laid down condition between the parties stating clearly the right of the defendant to suspend the claimant without pay. The defendant did not tender any such document containing such conditions of service. In the absence of such evidence, the consequence is that the defendants did not possess the right under the contract of employment to suspend the claimant indefinitely without pay…
Without further delay on this issue, it is has been resolved in this judgment that the claimant remains an employee of the 1st defendant till date, his employment not having been shown to have been terminated. It is also my view that the defendant has not proved that they have the power under the contract and in law to suspend the claimant without pay. Consequently, the claimant is entitled to his monthly salaries from the date of his suspension till the date of this judgment.”
It is my view that the circumstances of this case are suggestive that the employment of the claimant was suspended by the illegal and forced resignation and that; the defendant must pay the wages the claimant lost from the date of the forced resignation till the determination of this suit for forcibly and illegally keeping the claimant’s employment in abeyance till the determination of this suit. This is a logical and necessary corollary to relief a. It is therefore an ancillary relief. The maxim is ubi jus ibi remedium. In effect, I grant relief b in part, to the tune of payment of the arrears of salaries of the claimant from the date of the forced resignation to the date of delivery of this judgment. No issue was joined with the claimant on what the total amount his salary and allowances per month was before the forced resignation. The defendant only pleaded that his entitlement had been paid him and did not dispute the total emolument quoted as the monthly total pay [see paragraphs 19 and 20 of the Statement of Defence]. The claimant pleaded in paragraphs 17 and 18 of his Statement of Fact what his total salary per month was and itemized the heads culminating in the total and tendered Exhibit CWN in support. It is therefore safe for the Court to agree that the figure is correct. I therefore so hold.
In effect too, the defendant is liable to recalculate the terminal benefits of the claimant in view of the fact that the claimant remained in its service till the determination of this suit; and I so hold. That ends relief b, and ends discussion on the reliefs claimed. I must therefore proceed to the end of this judgment by giving the necessary orders to bring my decision into effect. There I go.
In concluding this judgment and for the avoidance of doubt, relying on section 14 of the National Industrial Court Act, section 254C – (1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution [as altered] and all other powers conferred on me, I hereby grant the following reliefs and orders:
1. That the resignation of the claimant was obtained under duress and undue influence; and therefore, unlawful and set aside.
2. That consequently, the claimant remains in the employment of the defendant till the determination of this suit.
3. That the defendant shall calculate and pay to the claimant his full salaries and allowances of N561, 915.05 on monthly basis, as pleaded in paragraphs 17 and 18 of his Statement of Facts and evidenced by Exhibit CWN, till the date of delivery of this judgment.
4. That the defendant shall issue the claimant with a letter of retirement in virtue of the over 14 years spent in its service by virtue of the transfer of his employment to the defendant [Exhibit CWB] and being appointed originally on July 1st 2005 [Exhibit CWA, Letter of Appointment].
5. That the defendant shall recalculate the terminal benefits of the claimant on the basis that he left its service on the date of delivery of this judgment, and pay over the surplus difference to the claimant, after deducting the terminal benefits already paid the claimant.
6. The defendant shall pay to the claimant cost of 200thousand naira.
7. That the defendant is to comply with the judgment of this Court within 30 days of its delivery, failing, which the judgment sums shall begin to attract 10% interest rate per annum till complied with in full.
This is the judgment of the Court. Judgment is entered into accordingly.
HON. JUSTICE O.O. AROWOSEGBE
NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA