Employers today can at any time of the day decide to dismiss any of their workers for good, bad or for no reason at all. This practice is a very common one which has it’s root from the common law practice where the master has the unhindered right to hire and to fire for good, for bad or no reason at all.
That harsh position has since been consigned to the dustbin of history by both the Constitution and the case-law.
This is the decision in the case of Mr. Abdul-Hakeem A. Olasewere V. Airtel Networks Limited, the claimant was dismissed for no reason and challenged his dismissal in the court.
The defendant counsel argued on the extant common law practice which allowed the master to fire any employee at anytime without any justification being one of master/servant he cited Isheno v. Julius Berger (Nig.) Plc (2008)-1544.
The claimant counsel on the other hand argued that that it is no longer the law that a master is entitled to dismiss his servant from his employment for good or for bad reasons or for no reason at all as the decided in Chukwumah v. Shell Petroleum (1993)4 NWLR (Pt.289) 512.
He further urged the court to apply International best practice and International Labour Standards in resolving employment dispute as in the instance case citing Section 254C (1)(f) and (h)of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, section 7(6), National Industrial Court Act, 2006 and Ebere Onyekachi Aloysuis v. Diamond Bank Plc. (2015) 58 NLLR (Pt. 199) 92 per Kola-Olalere J where the Court relied on Termination of Employment Convention, 1982 (No.158) and Recommendation No.166;
that the Court of Appeal has affirmed the power of National Industrial Court of Nigeria to apply international best practices in resolving employment dispute citing Sahara Energy Resources Ltd v. Oyebola (2020) LPELR – 51806 (CA) and that the harsh Common Law position which allows for termination of employment without any reason or without regard to the malicious circumstances surrounding same is now history and no longer hold sway.
The Judge in his brilliant, well reasoned and convincing judgement, easily aligned with the argument of the learned silk for the Claimant and held that an employer cannot for no reason dismiss his employees, their must be a cogent reason for doing so.
The judge in order to give life to the judgment made a consequently order in form of exemplary damages of One hundred million (100,000,000) against the defendants, two years salary of the claimant which amount to sixty million (60,000,000) and one million naira (1,000,000) as the cost of the action.
This should serve as lessons to employers who may want to terminate or dismiss any of their employees anytime as Nigeria are now alive to their rights as citizens and will not hesitate to enforce same should the need arise.
In conclusion, as a Nigerian, have your lawyer today and always consult him time to time for your actions and inactions.
About the Author
Keulere Nabil O. Is a law student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and can be reached via :