Court orders firm to pay 4 former employees N8.5m entitlements

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Labour Minister, Chris Ngige

The National Industrial Court has ordered a firm, Presal Nig. Ltd to pay four former employees N8.5 million within 30 days.

The sum of N4 million as ordered by the judge, Justice Zaynab Bashir was for the claimants outstanding salaries, allowances and other benefits from Dec. 2015 to Sept. 2016, contributory pension from Aug. 2013 to Sept. 2016 and gratuity payment.

The court in addition awarded the sum of N4 million as general damages and N500,000 as cost of action.

The court further declared that the modalities employed by the defendant in paying the claimants their outstanding salaries, allowances and other benefits in piecemeal as harsh, wrongful, illegal, and unacceptable.

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The court held that the termination of the claimants employment without notice nor payment of salary in lieu of notice was wrongful and unlawful.

The court also declared that the defendant’s refusal to pay the claimants outstanding salaries, allowances and other benefits from Dec. 2015 to Sept. 2016, gratuity payment of 50 per cent of their terminal monthly salary for each completed year of service, and withdrawal of the claimants’ money in the name of contributory pension scheme without remitting same was harsh, wrongful, illegal, unacceptable and breach of the claimants’ rights.

The judge equally stated that the failure of the defendant to comply with the judgment directives within 30 days, the said sum shall attract interest at the rate of 10 percent per annum

The court however did not grant the claimants relief that sought for reinstatement.

From facts, the claimants, Mr Abdulahi Ibrahim, Ayebaiduate Omubo, Innocent Tommy and Friday Barikpe submitted that the defendant terminated their employment without complying with the conditions of service.

The claimants added that there was undue delay in the payment of their salaries while some remained unpaid and their pension contributions were not remitted.

In defence the defendant admitting owing the claimants their outstanding salaries in the sum of N3.6 million, but however denied all other reliefs sought.

The defendant also admitted its effort to have the salaries paid, however that its failure to pay was due to economic hardship that had led to the closure of the company and the disengagement of the claimants.

The defendant also argued that the claimants were paid salaries in lieu of termination which was accepted by them and thereby their rights and obligations under the employment were deemed to have been extinguished.

In opposition, the claimants’ counsel, Mr I. Orlu-Akwu urged the court to hold that his clients had proved their case to entitle them to the reliefs sought and to accordingly grant all the reliefs.

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