PUC successfully defended Access Bank Plc in a labour related contentious matter Suit No: NICN/ABJ/305/2012- Mr Ernest Kemakolam v Access Bank Plc; filed by an ex-staff of the then Intercontinental Bank Plc in the wake of the merger between Access Bank Plc and Intercontinental Bank Plc. In a Judgment delivered on 26 February 2015, the National Industrial Court, sitting in Abuja dismissed the entirety of Mr Kemakolam’s Suit against Access Bank Plc.
Mr Kemakolam had in 2012 taken out a Writ against Access Bank Plc for the alleged non-payment of certain special severance benefits, which Access Bank Plc had put in place in favour of its staff and those of the then Intercontinental Bank Plc, who were offered a new employment in Access Bank after the merger. Mr Kemakolam filed the Suit and claimed entitlement to the severance benefits despite the fact that he had resigned his employment with Intercontinental Bank Plc before the merger with Access Bank Plc was completed, although the merger was completed while he was still serving out his termination notice period. He argued that he became an automatic staff of Access Bank consequent upon the merger and could therefore take benefit of the special severance package. To sustain that argument, he had issued a second resignation letter, this time to Access Bank. PUC’s argument, on behalf of Access Bank, was straightforward and it was that Mr Kemakolam could not competently issue a second resignation letter to Access Bank Plc upon the completion of the merger simply to take benefit of the post-merger severance benefits.
The Court in dismissing Mr Kemakolam’s Suit in its entirety, upheld the defence which PUC had raised on behalf of Access Bank Plc. The Court specifically held that Mr Kemakolam was neither a staff of Intercontinental Bank Plc nor Access Bank Plc at the material time, when the special severance benefit was put in place. The Court further upheld the contention of PUC that the severance benefit was offered only to the staff of the newly merged Access Bank Plc, and Mr Kemakolam having resigned his employ prior to the merger cannot resign twice from the same employ.