To ensure a proper punishment of employees found guilty of misconduct, some economic analysts said organisations must always follow due dismissal process of such staff.
Citing a recent case, in which a Lagos High Court, last Friday, nullified the removal of Bunmi Oni as managing director of Cadbury Nigeria, Detola Olukorede, a stock dealer at Investment Option, a fund management firm, said, “Once a process of dismissal is defective, a court of law will always fault it and accord fair judgment.”
Mr. Olukorede said Mr. Oni’s victory is a “boost to human relations law” in Nigeria and will serve as “a caution to companies violating corporate governance rule in the process of fighting the lack of it.”
Opeyemi Agbaje, an economic analyst and chief executive officer of Resources and Trust Company Limited, a business advisory firm, said, “I am a bit surprised given that prior to February, Mr. Oni had not made any public statement in relation to the matter, in spite of the widely circulated allegations. But, perhaps, it is expected that someone of his stature will seek to defend his reputation.”
Mr. Agbaje said the issue of “corporate governance or mis-governance, which the Cadbury matter and subsequent developments in the capital market and banking highlighted, suggests that we have significant room for improvement.”
Sani Taiwo, a legal practitioner at TeeA Investment, a real estate agency, said that last Friday’s judgment on Mr. Oni’s sack indicates that some bank chiefs currently facing fraudulent charges in court may win on the score of not getting fair hearing “in as much as they may have performed badly as executive officers.”
“The tragedy will be that the removed chief executive officers may win because Central Bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, did not observe fair hearing,” Mr. Taiwo said.
Last Friday, a Lagos High Court, in a judgment delivered by Justice Yetunde Phillips, ruled that the “purported dismissal of Mr. Oni by a letter dated 11th December 2006 and signed by Imo Itsueli, then chairman of Cadbury, was not only wrongful and unlawful, but also a repudiatory breach of Mr. Oni’s contract of employment.”
The court, therefore, ordered Cadbury Nigeria to pay all of Mr. Oni’s rights and entitlements accruing till six months from the “wrongful” termination.
Meanwhile, Kufre Ekanem, Cadbury’s spokesperson, could not be reached on phone as at the time of this report.
Mr. Oni, who served Cadbury for almost 30 years, had on February 9 told the Court that his actions with regard to book padding were predicated by prevailing circumstance to prevent the company from “shock” at the time.