Justice Elizabeth Oji of the Industrial Court, Lagos Judicial Division has ordered the Dangote cement to pay her former staff, Mr Salau Lekan, the sum of N1,815,000.00. (One Million Eight Hundred and Fifteen Thousand Naira) only as salary from October 2016 to August 2018 within 30 days.
The court held that no evidence from Dangote Cement showing when it conveyed to Mr Salau that his employment has ended; declared the actions of the firm refusal to provide work for Salau when he had a subsisting employment as unlawful and against public policy.
From facts, the claimant- Mr Salau Lekan had submitted that Dangote cement offered him an appointment as a tracking officer after successfully passed all the stages of tests and interviews on October 5, 2016, and after being reported for training, he was issued a letter of employment with the instruction to resume work at the company’s plant in Kogi.
Mr. Salau stated that one of the senior officials collected his letter of employment on the pretense of perfecting procedures, and handed him a letter of deployment to the tracking unit in Lagos.
That on getting to Lagos, he was denied resumption by the admin and tried several times only to be informed that they were working on his resumption and all effort to work proved to no avail and he has turned down many opportunities when he was employed by the firm.
In defense, the Defendant- Dangote Cement argued that Mr Salau did not complete the mandatory 3 days training to prepare him for the job description that he was deemed unfit for the job, urged the court to dismiss the claim in its entirety that Mr Salau has not done any work for the firm to earn a salary.
The firm counsel, David Nkire Esq with Efudunni Sowemimo Esq argued that Mr Salau is not entitled to notice of termination because his employment was under probation for six months and can be terminated without notice.
In its reply, the claimant counsel Mumuni Damilola Esq argued that the Claimant having been duly employed by the firm is entitled to a notice of termination of his employment that the probation clause in the employment letter was never activated as his client was never communicated with the termination of his employment, described the company assertion as an afterthought, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought in the interest of justice.
Delivering judgment after careful evaluation of the submissions of both parties, the presiding judge, Justice Elizabeth Oji held that Dangote Cement has not given evidence as to the provision of its Laws and Policies that provides for the withdrawal of employment after it has been duly commenced.
“I do not see how the withholding of the Claimant’s letter of appointment translates to a termination of employment; especially after being followed immediately by the issuance of letter of deployment.
“The Defendant had referred to the status of the Claimant as a staff on probation when it had not conveyed to the Claimant that he was no longer its employee; either before or after the 6 months period. If there was such a communication; there is no evidence to that effect before this Court.
“It is, therefore, a requirement of law that an employee needs to be notified that his employment has ended.” Justice Oji
Lastly, Justice Elizabeth Oji held that the Salau employment was terminated on the 29th of August 2018 when he briefed his Lawyers based on the understanding that the firm had breached its contract with him.