ISSUE: TERMINAL PAYMENTS - Whether an employee that accepts payment after his employment is brought to an end can be heard to complain later that his contract of employment was not properly determined (Issue is mine)


"He acknowledged that all his outstanding salaries and emoluments before his termination and three months' salaries in lieu of notice were paid to his account. This much he admitted during cross-examination and that he never complained nor refunded the monies paid to the Respondents. This is fatal to the Appellant case:

See (1) B. A. MOROHUNFOLA VS. KWARA STATE COLLEGE OF TECHNOLOGY (1990) 4 NWLR (PART 145) 506 528 F – H per KARIBI WHYTE, JSC, who said: "Learned counsel to the respondents submitted quite rightly that it was averred in paragraph 2 of the defendant’s statement of defence, that appellant’s appointment was properly validly terminated in accordance with the provisions of the regulations Governing of Service of its Senior Staff. This Regulation was tendered, admitted, and marked Exhibit 2. Exh.2A, i.e. page 3 of Exh.2, prescribed the conditions for termination of appointment for conduct other than misconduct. It provides for the giving of three months' notice, or three months’ salary in lieu of such notice. The provision applies to Senior Staff leaving the employment of the defendant. This evidence was part of the case of the appellant. He admitted he was paid three months’ salary in lieu of notice as provided in Exh.2A. Thus conceding for the purposes of this argument that appellant has a contract of employment with the defendant, that contract was validly and properly determined by appellant’s acceptance of its determination, i.e. the acceptance of the three months' salary paid to him in lieu of notice. See Dr. O. Ajolore v. Kwara State College of Technology (1986) 2 SC 374. 

If the appellant had rejected the three months’ salary in lieu of notice, the unilateral repudiation of his contract of service with the defendant by the appellant would not have operated to determine the contract – See Olaniyan & Ors. v. University of Lagos (1985) 2 NWLR (Pt.9) 599 at P.683. His conduct rendered the determination mutual.”

(2) GUINNESS NIGERIA LIMITED VS. MRS. MARGARET AGOMA (1992) 7 NWLR (PART 256) 728 at 742 per EJIWUNMI, JCA, who said: "Be that as it may, the central question here is whether the respondent had an enforceable contract after she had collected all her entitlements from the appellant following the receipt by her of her termination.

Having received all her just entitlements from the appellant following her retrenchment, it seems to me that she has put to rest any contract real or imagined which she had or thought that she had with the appellant. The position of the respondent is not dissimilar to the appellant in Morohunfola v. Kwara State College of Technology (1990) 4 NWLR (Pt.145) 506. In that case, the appellant sued his employers that the purported termination of his appointment is null and void and that the appellant is entitled to his emolument until the determination of the suit and thereafter until the appellant is legitimately relieved of his post.”

Where an employee accepts payment after the employment is brought to an end, he cannot be heard to complain later that his contract of employment was not properly determined. See the case of Ekeagwu vs. Nigerian Army (2006) 11 NWLR (Pt. 991) 382 CA; Alhassan vs. ABU Zaria (2011) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1259) 467 and PWTHANG vs. Ceddi Corp Ltd. (2012) 2 NWLR (Pt. 1285) 492.

An extension of this principle is that where an employee collects his terminal benefits or his retirement benefits and stops coming to work thereof, he has by his conduct accepted the letter and its content. In such a circumstance, the plea of estoppel will avail the employer. See the case of NEPA vs. Eboigbe (2009) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1142) 150 CA." Per IGE, JCA.


Lawrence Udo Edet, Esq.

(Providing legal principles & solutions)


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