The National Industrial Court in Abuja has affirmed the dismissal of one Mohammed Bello, a staff of Unity Bank, for his involvement in a N72 million fraud.
Bello, was dismissed on grounds of negligence when it was discovered that his failure to place a ‘ Post No Debit’ (PND) restrictions on a customer’s account allowed fraudulent transfers of the sum of N72m from the account.
The defendant was, however, able to later trace and retrieve the sum of N57 million of the amount, leaving the bank to incur a N15 million financial loss.
Delivering judgment, Justice Rakiya Haastrup, said the claimant challenged his summary dismissal as unlawful on the grounds that he was dismissed based on the same allegations for which he was already standing trial before an Upper Area Court in Abuja.
Haastrup said the claimant (Bello) also averred that he was arrested, detained and prosecuted for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and theft.
The judge said that the evidence before the court, however, proved that the terms and conditions of employment of the claimant as contained in the Employee Handbook, which governed his appointment, was adhered to before he was suspended without pay pending the conclusion of investigation by the defendant’s panel.
She noted that at the conclusion of its investigation, the panel found the claimant negligent and recommended his summary dismissal through a letter dated June 3, 2015.
The judge further held that from the entire evidence adduced by the claimant, he was unable to present before the court that he complied with the instruction of the Branch Manager to place PND restriction on the said account.
According to Haastrup the excuse of the claimant that it was not his schedule of duty to place PND on accounts cannot hold water as he is answerable to the Branch Manager and ought to carry out instructions given by him.
” By his summary dismissal, the claimant is not entitled to any salaries,entitlements, benefits or even damages.
“The legal burden is on the claimant who asserts to prove his claim on balance of probability and cannot shift the burden on the defendant until he has first discharged the burden placed upon him.
” The claimant herein fails to prove before the court that he complied with the instructions of the Branch Manager in placing PND on the account.
“The defendant had dismissed the claimant summarily on ground of gross negligence in line with the terms of contract as contained in the defendant’s employee handbook.
“In my view, the defendant herein was able to establish the negligence of the claimant to justify his summary dismissal, and I so hold.
” The sole issue is therefore resolved against the claimant.
“Consequently, the reliefs of the claimant cannot be granted and are hereby dismissed in its entirety,”she concluded.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the claimant prior to his suspension and summary dismissal was employed by the defendant (Unity Bank Plc) on Jan.1, 2006 and rose to the position of a Business Service Manager.
In his complaint, he had urged the court to declare his dismissal as unlawful, pay his salaries and allowances from the time of his suspension in March, 2015 until date.
Bello also sought for an award of N10 million as damages. (NAN)