Hon. Justice Salisu Danjidda of the Lagos Judicial division of the National Industrial Court has declared the appointment termination of Felix Uchidiuno by the Defendant as not wrongful, ordered the Defendant to compute and pay the Claimant his three-month salary in lieu of notice and terminal benefits for the 18 years period he had worked for the Defendant from 1977 to 1995 within 30 days.
The Court held that the employment relationship between the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria and Felix Uchidiuno was regulated by the Claimant’s appointment letter and the agency’s Conditions of Service and the termination of the appointment was in line with the same exhibits and does not constitute a breach of the contract of service.
From facts, the claimant- Felix Uchidiuno had submitted that with the deconsolidation of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria in 1993, he was deployed to Federal Mortgage Finance Limited (FMF), and his service was treated as continuous, that he was prematurely and unjustly retired at the age of 51 years instead of 60 years after serving the agency for 18 years.
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He further contended that there was no reason given by the agency for his retirement which according to him, constitutes a breach of conditions in his contract of employment, and was not paid his entitlements or retirement benefits as the figures computed were not what was due to him, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
In defense, the Defendant’s- Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria averred that it is distinct and separate from the FMF Limited and it never acquired nor had any control over the FMF Limited, that the suit before the court has been caught up by statute of limitation Law of Lagos State that the cause of action arose upon the issuance of a letter dated 27/10/1995 while the suit was instituted against the Defendant on the 29/7/2019.
In opposition, the learned Counsel submitted that the suit is not statute-barred as it was instituted within the prescribed timeline provided by Statute for the institution of employment Cases or simple contracts and the substitution of the agency that took over the defunct FMF Limited is legally justified and valid.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Salisu Danjidda held that the substitution of the Federal Mortgage Finance Limited with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria by an Order of court made on the 17th of June 2019 does not translate to the action being statute barred, that the agency is deemed to be the original party in the proceedings.
Justice Danjidda further held that parties to a contract of employment are bound by the terms and conditions of their employment, that Felix Uchidiuno’s appointment with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria is a contract of service terminable by either party by giving three months’ notice or three months’ salary in lieu of notice.
“In view of the fact that the termination of the appointment of the Claimant was not based on any misconduct or infraction, the Defendant is at liberty to terminate the appointment in accordance with the terms laid down in the letter of appointment which stipulated that three months notice or three months’ salary in lieu of notice must be given on either side. It is my view that three months’ notice or three months’ salary in lieu of notice would be a valid termination of the Claimant’s appointment.
“Hence where the contract of appointment is determinable by the agreement of the parties as in the instant case, there is no question of the contract having a statutory flavor. The fact that the other party is a creation of statute does not matter.” Justice Danjidda ruled.