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(2018) LPELR-43508(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Friday, the 12th day of January, 2018


Before Their Lordships

MOJEED ADEKUNLE OWOADE Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

CHIDI NWAOMA UWA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

HAMMA AKAWU BARKA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria




NDIDI ADEGBITE - Respondent(s)

Other Citations

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This appeal bothers on Civil Procedure.

This is an appeal against the decision of Y. A. Adesanya J. of the Lagos State High Court in suit No: ID/757/2007 between Mrs. Ndidi Adegbite and Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited delivered on the 14th of October, 2012.

The Background facts originating the appeal were rooted in the plaintiff's writ of summons and statement of claim dated and filed on the 15th of June, 2007 seeking some declaratory reliefs. The substance of the claimant's case, from the Appellants view point, was that she was offered employment with the Respondent on the 21st November, 2002 as an Account Relation Manager grade 7, which appointment she accepted on the 1st of December, 2003 and was later confirmed on the 11th of August, 2003. As such employee, she maintained an account with the bank. That in the course of her employment, she applied for maternity leave on the 4th day of January, 2005 which was granted to run from the 7th of February, 2005 to the 6th of May, 2005. She later applied for an extension of one month, which was granted to her on health grounds of the new born baby. That she held separate meetings on the 3rd of February, 2006 with her supervisor and team Executive Director in the course of which she was directed to resign her employment with the respondents, on the ground that her appraisal rating was unfavorable to her continued stay in the appellant's employment. That she was compelled to resign on the 8th day of February, 2006, and her resignation was not voluntary amounting to a wrongful dismissal. It is her case also that in evaluating her performance in 2005, she was discriminated against by the appellant on the ground of her sex and by reason of her being a nursing mother, and furthermore Appellant on or about the 8th of March, 2006 wrongfully and without her mandate debited her account with the sum of N1,628,209.64 and proceeded to apply imaginary interest rate to the said loan.
The appellants on the other hand contended that the respondent voluntarily resigned her appointment with the appellant vide her letter of the 8th of February, 2006 and effective on the 1st March, 2006, and denied the fact that the respondent was wrongfully dismissed. That the contract of employment of the appellant with the respondent was governed by the terms and conditions contained in her letter of employment, and the contents of the staff hand book. That it was normal for the appellants to hold periodic discussions with its employees and during one of such discussions which the respondent held with her supervisor and team head, and the respondent having admitted that her performance was poor opted to resign. Appellants denied discriminating against the respondents at anytime, rather stating that the deductions made are in respect of the Pension and the National Housing Fund scheme which are non-refundable. That as at the time of her resignation, appellant was indebted to the tune of N1, 628,209.64. That the appellants wrote the respondent accepting her resignation, and stated her indebtedness, which she disputed, and that respondents are not entitled to the grant of the claims indorsed on the writ of summons and the statement of claim.
Issues having been joined, the claimant proceeded to prove her case as demanded by law. In proving her case, the claimant gave evidence and tendered numerous exhibits. The defendant called a single witness Bunmi Ohiwerei (DW1) and tendered a host of exhibits. Written addresses were ordered filed and adopted. On the 12th October, 2012, the High Court delivered the vexed judgment to the effect that, prayers 1 to 4 in the respondents reliefs borne on the writ of summons and statement of claim were granted, while the 5th prayer was refused. 

Dissatisfied with the decision, the Appellants appealed against same. The Respondents also filed a cross-appeal.

The Court determined the main appeal on the Appellant's issues couched as follows:

a. Whether by virtue of the provisions of Section 254 (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Third Alteration) Act, 2010 and Sections 7 and 11 of the National Industrial Court Act 2006, Cap. N155, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010 the learned trial judge lacked the requisite jurisdiction to hear and determine the respondents claims as endorsed on her writ of summons and statement of claim dated 15th June, 2007 and 12th June, 2007 respectively and in consequence erred in law when she proceeded to enter judgment in favor of the respondent.

b. Whether the trial Court was right in law, having regard to the absence of any credible evidence adduced by the Respondent in proof of her allegation of discrimination by the Appellant on the grounds of sex and being a nursing mother to have held that the Respondent was so discriminated upon by the Appellant.

c. Whether the award of Five Million as general damages in favor of the Respondent by the trial Court was right in law, despite the manifest and glaring absence of any credible evidence adduced by the Respondent entitling her to such award of damages.

The Cross-appeal was determined on the Cross-respondent's sole issue couched as follows:
"Whether having regard to the relevant principles of law on the assessment and award of damages and the entire circumstance of the appeal, this honorable Court can upset the lower Courts award of damages in favor of the cross appellant?"

On the whole, the Court found no merit in both the main and cross-appeal. The Court accordingly dismissed both appeals. The decision of the High Court was therefore affirmed.

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