Although a Nigerian who worked with an oil company, Deinma Ikpaki, died in a swimming pool, the National Industrial Court has ordered the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) Management Board to pay his compensation.
The NSITF had declined to pay the compensation because it claimed Ikpaki did not die in the course of work but in a swimming pool outside work environment.
The court has, however, ordered the money be paid to the father of the deceased, Moses Ikpaki, who is also the late oil worker’s father.
The old Ikpaki had dragged the defendant, NSITF, before the court for payment of compensation.
The defendant had claimed that the deceased’s death did not occur in the course of his employment.
Delivering judgment, Justice Faustina Kola-Olalere declared that the late Ikpaki’s death occurred in the course of his employment.
The judge stated that two issues needed to be resolved by the court between the parties.
She said, “can it be said that the deceased died or his death occurred out of or in the course of his employment with employer?
“Is the claimant entitled to the reliefs he is seeking from the defendant?”
After perusal of the submission of both counsels, Kola-Olalere held that the deceased died in the course of his employment.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the court in addition stated that the premises, where late Ikpaki, was found dead qualified as the deceased’s ‘workplace’ within the provision of the Employees’ Compensation Act.
The court, therefore, ordered the defendant, the deceased employer’s Insurance company to promptly compute, calculate and pay compensation for the death of late Ikpaki in the course of his work to his father within two weeks.
The court, however, refused the claim for the sum of N10 million general damages.
The judge held that the aim of an award of damages was not to make a windfall or excessive profit.
The court, therefore, awarded the sum of N1 million in favour of the claimant for cost of prosecution of the suit as sought by claimant.
From facts, the claimant, the father of the late Ikpaki, who died in the service of his employer, sought among others for an order of mandamus compelling NSITF to pay compensation with the sum of N10 million as general damages and N1 million as cost of suit.
In defence, NSITF Management Board maintained that Ikpaki’s death did not arise out of or in the course of employment but after he had left his workplace.
The defendant argued that the deceased died in a swimming pool at a guest house in his employer’s Camp and not on his way back between his place of work and his principal residence.
Also, the NSITF also submitted that the deceased was employed as an Environmental Solution Specialist, specifically to work in an oil rig.
Its counsel added that the scope of his employment was in no way connected with working within or around a swimming pool and that deceased did not die in the course of his employment and urged the court to dismiss the case.
In opposition, the claimant’s counsel maintained that the employer’s contractor camped the deceased and other employees at its camp which was not part of his workplace.
The counsel averred that the late Ikpaki employer informed the commission to promptly pay compensation to his next-of-kin but the order was refused and therefore urged the court to grant the relief sought.