Hon. Justice Elizabeth Oji of the National Industrial Court Sitting in Lagos has set aside the dismissal of Mrs. Tamar Adigbonon by the Eko Electricity Distribution for being wrongful.
Justice Oji ordered Eko Electricity Distribution to pay Mrs. Tamar Adigbonon the sum of N 2,234,520.00 (Two Million, Two Hundred and Thirty-Four Thousand, Five Hundred and Twenty Naira only) representing her six years’ salary as general damages for loss of emolument from the date of the wrongful dismissal 18th February 2016 until February 2022, and the sum of N200,000 cost of action within 30 days.
However, the court dismissed Mrs. Tamar Adigbonon’s defamation and libelous claim against the Eko Electricity Distribution for lack of proof.
Justice Oji further held that the Eko Electricity has not been able to establish to the Court that the Mrs. Tamar act or inaction led to the loss of the sum of N10,154,200.0 or any sum, dismissed the counter-claimed for lacking merit.
From facts, the Claimant- Mrs. Tamar Adigbonon had submitted that she was given a letter of dismissal for alleged fund misappropriation and submitted that no notice of the instant allegation was given to her and she was not given an opportunity to defend herself.
She further said that the false publication of the disclaimer notice has defamed her character in the mind and eyes of her friends, colleagues, and members of the public and has portrayed her as a fraudulent person and a thief, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
In defense, the defendant- Eko Electricity Distribution submitted that Mrs. Tamar Adigbonon was confronted and issued a query for misconduct but was unable to give a reasonable explanation; that she was negligent in her duties to the firm and was offered an opportunity to defend herself.
The firm counsel, EO Etomi (Mrs) with AO Benson objected that the court lacked the power to entertain matters on defamation or libel claim and denied making any disclaimer against the claimant, urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.
Delivering the judgment after careful submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Elizabeth Oji dismissed the objection and affirmed the jurisdiction of the court to entertain defamation arising from the workplace.
Justice Oji held that where the determination is by dismissal, reason must be given; and because of the infamous implication of dismissal, the reason must be justified.
The Court found that Mrs. Tamar Adigbonon was dismissed over an allegation of misappropriation without being confronted with the allegation in the first place, let alone being given an opportunity to respond to it, that the reason tendered by the firm for dismissing the Claimant is implausible.