On February 15, 2018, the National Industrial Court sitting in Ibadan ordered the management of First City Monument Bank (FCMB) to pay the sum of N2million as general damages to one of its former branch managers who was sacked in controversial circumstances.
Eight months down the line, the sad former employee, Mr. Olufemi Olushakin, says the bank is yet to pay him despite the fact that the order said he should be paid within 60 days.
FCMB however says payment has not been made because it has taken the case to the Court of Appeal. It suggested that taking any action in line with the NIC judgement now, will amount to setting a wrong precedent.
Olushakin, who was the branch manager of the bank in Ojoo, Ibadan, said life has been difficult since his controversial sack in 2012. He regretted that the bank had disrupted his banking career path as no other bank or financial institution would employ him without a reference from FCMB which, by the manner in which it fired him, has tagged him as unfit and incompetent.
In his suit filed on January 27, 2015, obviously after efforts to resolve issues with the bank failed, Olushakin said the bank set up a disciplinary committee and tried him on October 31, 2012 over allegation of unethical lending and diversion of a mortgage loan. He said the committee which did not find him guilty and did not disclose its verdict but the bank went ahead to terminate his appointment on November 8, 2012.
When contacted, Mr. Diran Olojo, the Group Head, Corporate Affairs of FCMB, told Newspeakonline that Olushakin’s appointment was terminated for “conflict of interest and other sundry wrongdoings”.
But, the bank, in its court submissions, did not say it found Olushakin guilty of any wrong doing. It said the former employee was sacked because his services were no longer required.
In his judgement, Justice F.I Kola-Olalere, after considering the submissions of both parties, declared that when FCMB no longer required Olushakin’s services, it cannot terminate his employment as it did from the terms and conditions of his contract of employment because “there was no act of misconduct found against him and the only option left for the defendant is to advise the claimant to resign”
Justice Kola-Olalere then directed Olushakin to write his letter of resignation with effect from November 8, 2012 when his employment was wrongly terminated.
Ruling further, the judge awarded the sum of N2million to Olushakin.
“Because the wrongful termination of the claimant’s appointment in this instance has portrayed him as having committed misconduct, which was not the case and has dented his integrity, I hereby order the defendant to pay the sum of N2,000,000.00 general damages to the claimant,” the judge stated.
Also ruling that the bank should pay N100,000 cost to Olushakin, the judge stressed that the bank is to “pay the judgement debts to the claimant within 60 days from today”.
After 60 days elapsed, it was claimed that FCMB had filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal and had applied for stay of judgement.
But ruling on the application on May 31, 2018, Justice Kola-Olalere dismissed the application, asserting that “there is no evidence that the appeal of the applicant has been entered with at the Court of Appeal as there is no Appeal Suit No. on the notice of appeal. Therefore there is no valid appeal against the judgement.”
He said he was refusing the application for stay of execution of judgement based on the NIC rules and NIC Act to the effect that appeal does not serve as stay of execution of judgement.
It has been eight months since the first judgement and more than four months since the dismissal of stay of execution; Olushakin is still a sad man, still unpaid for the damages done to him.
But according to Mr. Olojo, the bank has applied to the Court of Appeal and “would rather see the appeal process through than set a wrong precedent.”
His words: “The Bank having reviewed the totality of the matter, and the fact that it will send the wrong signals given the gravity of the infraction of the staff decided to appeal the judgment.
“We would rather see the Appeal process through than set a wrong precedent.
“The Bank’s appeal is on course.”