Hon. Justice Zaynab Bashir of the Portharcourt Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has dismissed the former Councillor, Hon. Princewill Nwala N9.5m entitlement claim against Etche Local Government Council of Rivers State for lacking merit.
The Court held that Hon. Princewill has not proved cogently and convincingly that he is entitled to the sum of N9.5m claimed that such claim as presently constituted is clouded with incongruities without a certainty.
From facts, the Claimant- Hon. Princewill Nwala had pleaded that he served as Councilor in the Ethe Local Government Area from April 2004 till May 2007 and was not paid the various statutory entitlements due to him and neither was he paid the increment that was effected to the entitlements from February 2007 to May 2007.
He maintained that the only money paid to him was the sum of N250,000 which was paid in cash in May 2013 and the defendant owed him the sum of N9,532,619.25.
In defense, the defendant- denied the Hon. Princewill Nwala’s claim and maintained that the subject matter of the suit was decided in Rivers State High Court and judgment was delivered on the 28/05/2014 while the garnishee order Nisi made on the 9/05/2017 was made absolute on 18/10/2017 hence res judicata applies to the case, urged the Court to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.
During Cross-examination, Hon. Princewill Nwala admitted being awarded judgment in the sum of N1,879,047.21 as part payment from the sum claimed before the court, urged the Court to grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering the Judgment after careful analysis of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Zaynab Bashir found that Rivers State High Court entered judgment in part on the 28th of May, 2014 with respect to the sum of N1,879,047.21 and the rest of the matter was not determined by the court as the case was transferred to Industrial court via a transfer order signed on the 24th day of October, 2018.
Justice Zaynab further affirmed the Court's jurisdiction and held that part judgment delivered by the Rivers State High Court cannot create a bar on the court in entertaining the rest of the claim which is still in dispute.
“Bearing the foregoing in mind, I have taken a look at the Claimant’s UBA statement of account tendered as Exhibit C10 and therein find that on 6th June 2006, the Claimant’s account was credited with the sum of N126,362.97 with the narration MAY 06 SAL. The same amount with similar narration of “salary’ was credited to the account on 3rd July 2006, 28th July 2006, 13th September 2006, 19th October 2007, 7th November 2006, 8th December 2006, 8th February 2007, 12th March 2007, and 14th May 2007.
"What the foregoing indicates is that certain sums of monies were paid to the Claimant as salaries and for which the Claimant has not reckoned in his claim before the court. The implication of all the foregoing, particularly the regular payment of the sum of N126,362.97 into his account, is that the Claim of the Claimant as presently constituted is clouded with incongruities without certainty as to the sum specifically owed to the Claimant and for what exactly.”
visit the judgment portal for full judgment