IN THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE PORT HARCOURT JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT PORT HARCOURT
BEFORE HIS LORDSHIP, HON.JUSTICE N.C.S OGBUANYA
SUIT NO: NICN/PHC/107/2020
DATE: NOVEMBER 12, 2020
PRINCE NOSIKE OBI - CLAIMANT
MANILA INDUSTRIAL SECURITY SERVICES LTD. ]- DEFENDANT
C.N Onwuerin, Esq., -for the Claimant;
Tonye Ibisik Esq., (with Easter Ogbekhili)-for the Defendant
By a General Form of Complaints dated 31st August 2020 and issued on 4th September 2020, the Claimant brought this suit against his employer, praying for the following Reliefs:
1. AN ORDER compelling the Defendant to reinstate the Claimant with immediate effect and pay all his outstanding salaries with effect from October 2019 when he was unfairly sacked.
2. AN ORDER compelling the Defendant to pay to the Claimant the monthly pension of Five Thousand Naira (
N5, 000) per month with effect from 2017, 2018, 2019 and January – August 2020 when this suit is filed, thereby amounting to the sum of Two Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira ( N220, 000.00) including and other salary and pension accruable during the pendency of this suit as well as continue to pay same in as much as the Claimant remains as the staff of the Defendant.
3. Three Million Naira (N3, 000,000) for wrongful dismissal.
Upon service of the originating processes, the Defendant, though did not enter formal Appearance but was represented by a Counsel at the Return date of 27th October 2020. Counsel however informed the court that both parties are ready to settle the matter out of court, a development that was also confirmed by the Claimant’s counsel. The matter was thereafter adjourned for Report of Resettlement at the proceedings of 3rd November 2020, but that was not to be as another adjournment was granted.
At the resumed proceedings of 9th November 2020, for Report of Settlement /Hearing, both counsel confirmed that settlement has been reached but that the terms of settlement was not yet signed for the purposes of obtaining Consent Judgment. Learned Defendant’s counsel further stated that a letter containing the terms of the offer was sent to the Claimant’s counsel, but that the Claimant’s counsel has not formally replied though he stated that his client has accepted the terms therein. In a Bench Ruling, I posited thus:
“I have noted that where parties are ready to settle their matter and have indeed settled, but have not formally executed terms of settlement or did one that is defective, that fact will not defeat the interest of justice, and as it is also the judicial policy of this Court to resolve matters expeditiously. Where a matter of such cannot end up in Consent Judgment pursuant to Or.45 R.9 of the Rules of this Court, the Court is also empowered under Or.40 R.2(1) to make an order/ directive to take evidence of the particular fact, in this case, the fact of the settlement by the parties already initiated in writing. On that note, and in line with the Or.40 R.2 (1), I hereby direct that a mini trial be held for the parties to give evidence of the particular fact of their settlement of the matter, and tender whatever document that evidences such initiative. I so hold. Accordingly, the matter is set down for trial, pursuant to Or.42 R.2 (1) of the Rules of this Court. Both counsel are however, at liberty to waive their rights of filing and exchange of Final Written Address, to achieve expeditious conclusion of this matter”.
To still resolve the matter amicably, but not under the route of consent judgment by adoption of the terms of settlement, a veritable route was through mini trial to take particular evidence on the settlement and tender and admit the letter evidencing the terms of settlement as exhibit before the court of which, proper judgment would be delivered upon testimony of witnesses of the parties and with or without both counsel’s final address. On that note, the matter was set down for Hearing pursuant to Or.42 R.2 (1) of the Rules of this Court, to take evidence of the particular fact of the settlement.
Trial opened and the Claimant testified by himself as CW. He testified how the parties with assistance of their respective counsel amicably resolved the matter, and that a letter dated 5th November 2020 was received by his counsel, of which terms therein he agreed to as settlement of the matter. He tendered the said letter dated 5th November 2020, which was admitted in evidence and marked as ‘exh.C&D1’. He was cross-examined by the Defendant’s counsel, and closed his case.
On the part of the Defendant, one Ahaiweh Reuben (Defendant’s Branch Manager) testified for the Defendant as DW. He confirmed that parties indeed reached amicable settlement of the matter, whereupon the letter proposing the terms of settlement was sent to the Claimant’s counsel by the Defendant’s counsel. He acknowledged the said letter as exh.C&D1, and under cross examination, re-confirmed the voluntariness of the said parties’ settlement discussions that gave rise to the said letter (exh.C&D1).
Upon conclusion of the trial, both Counsel expressed their willingness to dispense with filling of Final Written Address, and urged the court to incorporate the offered terms of settlement in exh.C&D1 in the Judgment to be delivered. The matter was therefore reserved for Judgment. In the course of the proceedings, I observed carefully the events of the proceedings and read relevant processes, and as well, listened to the parties’ witnesses testify on the later development in the matter resulting in the trial being narrowed to adduce evidence on the particular fact of the agreed settlement by the parties.
From the testimonies at the trial, in my view, the lone issue arising is: whether the court can enter judgment based on the parties’ consensual testimonies about their agreed terms for resolution of their dispute? To resolve this issue, I hold the view that there is no doubt that the agreed terms of resolution testified to by the parties’ Witnesses at the trial, tendered and admitted as Exhibit ‘C&D1’, amounts to admission on the part of both parties. In Popoola v. Babatunde  7 NWLR (Pt. 1299) C.A 302 @ P 331, para. B, it was held that what is admitted need no further proof. See also: Adebiyi v. Umar  9 NWLR (Pt. 1305) C.A. 279@ P. 296, para. G-H, where the court held that “by virtue of section 75 of the Evidence Act, no fact need be proved in any civil proceedings which the parties thereto or their agents agree to admit at the hearing or which by any rule or pleading in force at the time they are deemed to have admitted by their pleadings”.
Or.40 R.2 (1) NICN (CP) Rules 2017, is to the effect that: “The court may, at or before the trial of an action, order or direct that evidence of any particular fact be given at the trial in such manner as may be specified by the order or direction”. In the circumstance of the case, by directing the narrowing of the trial towards establishing the particular fact of existence and terms of the parties’ agreed terms to resolve their dispute and the witnesses for both parties having given evidence in admission of the agreed terms, I am satisfied that sufficient evidence has been laid by the parties’ witnesses (CW and DW) towards establishing the particular fact of the existence and terms of the agreement by both parties to resolve their dispute in this matter as stated in exh.C&D1, particularly to the effect that all claims and issues concerning the exit of Claimant from his employment with the Defendant ended and resolved forthwith.
Given the evidence of the admitted facts of the agreed settlement, and with exh.C&D1, it is my considered view that all the averments in the processes filed and exchanged between the parties which are in variance with this admission and evidence, should and are hereby discountenanced. I so hold.
In the circumstance, I hold that the parties’ evidence of their said agreed terms of settlement as evidenced by exh.C&D1 succeeds. As per the terms of the said exh.C&D1, the Defendant is hereby ordered to pay to the Claimant the sum of N682, 658.00 (six hundred and eighty two naira thousand six hundred and fifty eight naira), being the agreed sum for full and final settlement of the issues between the parties in this suit. The said sum shall be paid within one week of this Judgment, otherwise interest of 10% shall accrue on it until liquidated.
Judgment is entered accordingly. I make no order as to cost.
HON. JUSTICE N.C.S OGBUANYA