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WHETHER AN EMPLOYER CAN BE COMPELLED TO PROMOTE ITS EMPLOYEE

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CASE TITLE: SYLVESTER C. NWOYE v. FEDERAL AIRPORTS AUTHORITY OF NIGERIA (2019) LPELR-46402(SC)

JUDGMENT DATE: 18TH JANUARY, 2019

PRACTICE AREA: LABOUR LAW

LEAD JUDGMENT: AMIRU SANUSI, J.S.C.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:

INTRODUCTION

This appeal borders on Labour Law.

FACTS

This appeal is against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Ekiti division delivered on 20th day of January, 2012.

Appellant, who was a staff of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), joined the services of the Authority on 5th May 1980 as an Assistant Technical Officer on grade level 06. The appointment was confirmed and he rose through the ranks up to Grade Level 13 and the position of Assistant Chief Electrical Superintendent (ACES) in the cadre of senior staff as at 1999. As part of the perks of office as a senior member of staff, he was allocated official accommodation in the Respondent’s staff quarters. According to him, for no justifiable reason, the respondent began to withhold his salaries and emoluments and prevented him from carrying out his official assignments. When he made a demand for his salaries and emoluments to be paid, the respondent threatened to evict him from his official accommodation. He therefore instituted an action at the High Court of Enugu State, where he sought and was granted an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the respondent from evicting him. He also sought some declaratory and injunctive main reliefs. He added other reliefs in the alternative.

At the conclusion of the trial, the learned trial Judge granted reliefs 1, 3 and 5 and refused reliefs 2 and 4. The respondent appealed against the decision to the Court of Appeal, Ado-Ekiti Division. The appellant was also dissatisfied with the failure of the learned trial Judge to grant reliefs 2 and 4 and filed a cross appeal. A preliminary objection was raised in respect of respondent’s appeal. The Court of Appeal found the objection to have been well founded and struck out the respondent’s appeal. Thereafter the Court considered the appellant’s cross-appeal. It held that the learned trial Judge was right not to have granted reliefs 2 and 4 and declined to invoke its powers under Section 15 of the Court of Appeal Act to grant the said reliefs. It however granted relief (I) of the alternative reliefs. Not pleased, appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION

The Court determined the appeal on the following issues:

“1. Whether the lower Court has jurisdiction to consider or determine the alternative reliefs (i) and (ii) of the Amended Statement of Claim of the Appellant when there was no appeal on the alternative reliefs.

  1. Whether the lower Court was right in law to uphold the refusal of the trial Court to grant reliefs two (2) and four (4) of the Appellant’s Amended Statement of Claim or decline to grant same when both the trial Court and the lower Court have the jurisdiction to grant both reliefs.
  2. Whether the lower Court was right in law to hold that the Appellant is entitled to his retirement benefits when the Appellant has not been retired from the service of the Respondent.
  3. Whether the lower Court was right to hold in its judgment that Exhibits M, N, O, P and Q were rightly admitted in evidence by the trial Court when the said exhibits are inadmissible in law.”
  4. DECISION/HELD

Unanimously, the Apex Court found no merit in the appeal and accordingly dismissed same

RATIOS:

  • LABOUR LAW- EMPLOYER/EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP: Whether an employer can be compelled to promote its employee
  • EVIDENCE- DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE: Whether objection can be raised on appeal to documentary evidence admitted without objection at the trial Court
  • COURT- POWER OF COURT: Power of the Court of Appeal to consider alternative relief

lawpavilion • February 12, 2019


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