Legal Drama

Siasia, Ex-Super Eagles Coach, Sues Nigerian Football Federation for Breach of Employment Contract

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“Sacked (fired)Super Eagles Coach Sampson Siasia has dragged the Board of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) to an Abuja High Court for breaching the terms of his employment contract.

Speaking to journalists in Abuja during a telephone interview yesterday, Siasia gave reasons why he sued the NFF adding that the board breached the terms of his employment contract by not paying his salaries and allowances as and when due while he was still the National Team Coach.

Said he: “ The Board sacked me because the team did not qualify for the 2012 African Nations Cup and that is alright, but they also breached the terms of my employment contract by not paying my salaries and allowances regularly. I am still being owed by NFF”.

When contacted over the matter Secretary General of NFF Musa Ahmadu said he could not yet speak on the matter until he briefed the Board about it.

However, he confirmed that the former Super Eagles handler was being owed salary arrears but promised he would be paid before the end of the year. . .

Vanguard Nigeria

What’s really going on here?
Coach Siasia wants to hold NFF’s feet to the fire. According to the news report, the excerpt not quoted above, the NFF also failed to give notice, a thirty day notice pursuant to the terms of his contract, to Siasia. The language of the 30day clause states “if need be” a notice is to be provided.

What Law Governs

General Law of Contracts, Nigerian Labour Act Chapter 198, Law of Federation of Nigeria. The law also comes from Nigeria’s constitution, its case laws (Judge made), and other statutes (law made by Nigeria’s legislators aka lawmakers).

How do you Form a Valid Contract Under Nigeria’s Labour Law?
Music entrepreneurs abound and you all should have a basic working knowledge of the law if you will work for others or hire employees. Forming a valid contract in Nigeria  is not any different from forming such valid contract here in the States. To have a valid contract, you need:

a) An offer – NFF made an offer to Siasia to come work for NFF as a coach
b) An Acceptance – Siasia accepted the offer
c) Consideration (money typically) – NFF said in exchange for your time and expertise, we will pay you a certain amount of money
d) Certainty – NFF and Siasia negotiated the length of time, where, how, what you will do and not do etc.
e) Mental capacity to contract – If you are mentally disabled i.e. schizophrenic or other extreme forms of mental health issues one may have, it would be hard to say there is a valid contract even if you signed the dotted line. Also, if you are under 16years old, you cannot enter into a valid contract, per Nigeria’s Labour law.

What are the Types of Contracts One Can Enter Into

“Contract of Service”:  Better known as Master/Servant type of Contract – Yes, we borrow the mentality from the Brits. So, it is basically a housegirl/house boy mentality which is seen at most Nigerian work force. The employer controls everything but not in a very nice way, per se.

Contract for Service: These are those on equal footing with employers even if they do business with employers and are typically not subjected to the oga/madam mentality. They include folks like me i.e. the lawyers and others such as  doctors, engineers, and persons like Coach Siasia. They would be categorized as  independent contractors and/or self-employed. Many musicians who own their own record labels also fall into this category.

Typical and well drafted contracts must and should have basic elements such as:

1) Names of parties
2) Intent to form a contract
3) Location
4) Duration of the contract
5) Scope of contract/services
6) termination
7)compensation
8) What constitutes breach of contract
9) What happens if there is a breach
10) Dispute resolution clause – Nigeria’s legal profession is slowly but surely warming up to the idea of mediation and arbitration in resolving disputes. Think of mediation as what the elders did back in the village when there was a problem. They basically called all parties together and tried to make people see reason and resolve their problems. For Arbitration, think of its as going before a King and having the king resolve your dispute. It is a formal setting but not as formal as a courtroom. For the music business and music industry professionals, you always want to have an arbitration clause in your contract if you can. Mediation is also good but not a necessity, per se. Arbitration saves time, money, costs, headaches and is much more efficient in resolving disputes.

Who Can Enter a Contract?
16 and above. Exception: If you are an apprentice, then you can enter a contract even though you are under age 16.

What Does the Law Say About How Employees Should Get Paid for Their Services Rendered?
Nigeria’s Labour code states, “No contract shall provide for the payment of wages at intervals exceeding one month unless the written consent of the State Authority has been previously obtained. . .” The story above says ex-coach Siasia has not been paid pursuant to the terms of the contract he signed. In addition, if it surpasses the one month period provided by law and the State never gave authority for payment to exceed one month, then the NFF would be in violation of the Labour Code. Siasia suing in court can also have this be a leverage in his case against the NFF; which might force an early settlement between the parties.

Does this mean the court on its own initiative or the Labour Commission/Board cannot take their own actions to penalize NFF as an employer? No it does not.

How Do you Terminate a Contract Under Nigeria’s Labour Act?

According to the law, a contract must be terminated by the following methods:

  • At the expiration of negotiated term or duration;
  • death of a worker before expiration of the negotiated term of the agreement;
  • by notice in compliance with the labour statute
  • by any other method a contract is legally terminable or held to be terminated

What Amount of Notice is Required to Terminate a Contract, in Employment Situations, Under Nigerian Law?

  • one day, where the contract has continued for a period of three months or less;
  • one week, where the contract has continued for more than three months but less than two years;
  • two weeks, where the contract has continued for a period of two years but less than five years; and
  •  one month, where the contract has continued for five years or more

NOTE: Be sure to exclude the actual day the notice is given.

Can the Parties (Employer and Employee) Negotiate Notice Requirement?

Yes they can.

Does the Notice have to be in Writing?

No. EXCEPTION: If the notice is for a period of one week or more, it has to be in writing.

In this Case, if Notice is an Issue, Can Siasia Waive Notice?

Yes, according to the Labour Act.He can waive his right to notice  OR be can accept payment instead of notice.

 When Is Payment Due to An Employee who has/Will  Be Terminated?

“All wages payable in money shall be paid on or before the expiry of any period of notice.”

Let’s see how the whole Siasia thing shakes out. If you are a business owner or employee preparing to sign a contract, consult with an attorney about your legal matter.

Cheers,
Uduak
NOTE: Members of the press looking for further legal commentary from me, you may reach me at (africamusiclaw@gmail.com) or you can contact me directly on twitter at @uduaklaw or @africamusiclaw.

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Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at https://msuduak.com.

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