Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration And Production Company Limited, have both been ordered by the Port-Harcourt Rivers State division of the National Industrial Court, to pay the sum of N71 million, to one Joseph Johnson Osayande, whose appointment was terminated unjustly.
The court headed by Justice Nelson C. S Ogbuanya, also declared termination of Joseph Johnson Osayande’s contract of employment with the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited by the letter written by the Shell Nigeria Exploration And Production Company Limited, dated June 18, 2015 for no justifiable/valid reason relating to his work, is a violation of International Labour Organization’s Article 4 of Termination of Employment Convention C158, 1982 and International Labour best practices. And consequently aside the letter for being illegal.
The Claimant, Joseph Johnson Osayande, through his lawyer, George Ogara, had dragged the two oil firms before the court sometimes in 2016, in a suit numbered NICN/YEN/48/2016.
In the suit, Osayande had asked for six reliefs, which were “a declaration that the action of the second defendant in terminating the his contract of employment with the first defendant by a letter written by the second defendant dated June 18, 2015, is unlawful and a breach of the terms and conditions of employment between the Claimant and the first defendant.
“A declaration that the second defendant’s termination of the claimant’s contract of employment with the first defendant by a letter written by the second defendant dated June 18, 2015 for no justifiable/valid reason relating to the claimant’s work is a violation of International Labour Organization’s Article 4 of Termination of Employment Convention C158, 1982 and International Labour best practices.
“An order of Court setting aside the letter dated June 18, 2015 issued to the Claimant by the 2nd Defendant for being illegal.
“The sum of N492, 859,359.34 million, being the Claimant’s expected total salary/emoluments from July 2015 to June, 2022.
“The sum of N115,698,311.99 million, being the gratuity due to the Claimant from the Defendant Company upon retirement in the year 2022.
“The sum of N867,737,339.91 million, being total annual pension due to the Claimant from the Defendant upon retirement in the year 2022 to 2037.”
During the trial of the suit, the Claimant told the court that the termination of his employment was contrary to terms and conditions of his employment contract, and that his sudden termination without reason runs contrary to the provisions of the Article 4 of the ILO Termination of Employment Convention (C158 of 1982). Adding that the termination carried out without due compliance with the provisions of the Guidelines for the Release of Staff in the Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry 2019
He also further contends that the abrupt termination of his employment truncated his smooth career in the Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry, and denied him the opportunity to serve and reap the bogus retirement package if he had attained the normal terminal retirement age of 60 years in service, which would be due in 2022, if his employment was not so abruptly and wrongfully terminated.
He also contented that consequent upon the termination of his said employment, he has suffered sundry losses, including means of livelihood, good name, reputation, disorganization of his retirement plan, ruined aspiration, and economic hardship on account of the loss of his salary up to his expected retirement age of 60 years.
He therefore, seeks to recover his lost expected earnings until due retirement, and damages for the wrongful act of termination of his employment without reason by the second defendant, and non-compliance with the terms and condition of his service and extant laws.
He therefore prayed the Court to uphold his claims and grant his reliefs sought.
But the two oil companies through their witnesses told the court that the claimant is not entitled to remain in service until retirement age of 60 years, and as such, the “expected remuneration stream” and terminal benefits prepared by Okey Ogbenna & Co. (Chartered Accountants) are based on non-existent indices and speculation, and should be discountenanced by the Court.
The two oil companies through their lawyers, Sonny O. Wogu (SAN) and T. D Fubara, respectively, consequently asked the court to dismiss the claimant’s suit for lacking merit.
Delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Ogbuanya, after considering all the issues raised by the parties, and citing series of legal authorites, decided all the issues raised in favour of the claimant.
The judge consequently held that: “the claimant’s reliefs 1 and 2 succeed to the extent, that it is hereby declared that the claimant’s employment was wrongfully terminated, on the following grounds- the employment being terminated by the second defendant, who is not his employer; failure to give reason for the sudden termination of the claimant’s employment, which is against the precepts of international labour standard and best practice, as gauged in the Art.4 of the ILO Convention on employment termination (C158) of 1982; and also for non-compliance with the requirement of Clause 4.0 of the extant Guidelines for Release of Staff in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry 2019, by the release of the Claimant vide termination of his employment, being a Staff in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry, where the Defendants are operators, without consent of the Minister of Petroleum Resources first sought for and obtained before such termination of the Claimant’s employment.
“The Relief 3 succeeds and is hereby granted, to the extent that the said letter of termination of the Claimant’s employment with the 1st Defendant dated 18th June 2015 (exh.C7), is hereby set aside for the reasons earlier stated for its wrongfulness.
“The Reliefs 4 and 5 succeed, only to the extent that, in view of the breaches and infringements by the first and second defendants in respect of the Claimant’s employment contract, which amount to acts of unfair labour practice pursuant to S. 254C (1)(f) of the Constitution (as Amended), Consequential damages is to be awarded in favour of the Claimant against the Defendants. Accordingly, the sum of N50, 000, 000(fifty million naira) is here by awarded in favour of the Claimant against the 1st Defendant; The sum of N20, 000,000(twenty million naira) is hereby awarded against the 2nd Defendant in favour of the Claimant, for unlawful interference with the employment contract of the Claimant with the first defendant, resulting in its wrongful termination.
“The Relief 6 is hereby discountenanced and dismissed, for being completely speculative and unfounded, there being no basis for the expected extension of the contract of employment to 2037, after the possible retirement age of 60 years in 2022, which the Claimant could not even attain.
“In line with Or.55 Rs.1, 4 & 5 of the extant Rules of this Court, the sum of N1,000,000 (one million naira) Cost is hereby awarded against each of the Defendants in favour of the Claimant.
“The sums of money awarded and payable in this Judgment shall be paid to the claimant by the defendants, within two (2) months of this Judgment, failing which it attracts 10% interest rate per annum until fully liquidated.
“Judgment is entered accordingly.”
Culled: News Dish
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