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The court has exclusive jurisdiction in civil causes and matters relating to or connected with any labour, employment, trade unions, industrial relations and matters arising from workplace, the conditions of service, including health, safety, welfare of labour, employee, worker and matter incidental thereto or connected therewith.

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Industrial Court declares stoppage of Paul Odiong’s salary as unlawful, orders payment of 2-year Salary, 4-year Allowance within 30 days


728 Wednesday 12th October 2022

Hon. Justice (Prof.) Elizabeth Oji of the National Industrial Court, Lagos Judicial division has declared the action of Riggs Ventures West Plc stopping Mr. Paul Odiong from attending his lawful duties without paying him all his salaries/entitlements and other benefits as wrongful and unlawful.


The Court ordered Riggs Ventures West Plc to pay Mr. Paul the sum of N1,875,000.00 (One Million, Eight Hundred and Seventy-Five Thousand Naira) being his salaries for October 2018 to October 2020; N271, 983.84k (Two Hundred and Seventy-One Thousand, Nine Hundred and Eighty-Three-Naira, Eighty-Four Kobo) accrued leave allowance for four years and N243,231.80 (Two Hundred and Forty-three Thousand Two Hundred and Thirty-one Naira Eighty Kobo) as contributed pension for 5 years and 10 months within 30 days. 


Justice Oji further held that Riggs Ventures West Plc is not at liberty to stop an employee from working, without termination, and without payment of his salaries.  


From facts, the claimant- Mr. Paul Odiong had submitted that Sometime in October 2018, the firm stopped him and other staff from work and promised to recall them when materials are available. 


He further stated that sometime in June 2019, some of the staff that were stopped from working were recalled to resume and were paid their salaries/allowances and bonuses for Christmas but he never received any notification for recall or payment of his outstanding entitlements despite repeated demands and several visits to the Company, urged the Court to grant the reliefs sought.


In defense, the Defendant- Riggs Ventures West Plc averred that the appointment of Mr. Paul amongst some others in 2018 had not been terminated as they were only asked to stop coming to work pending when they would be recalled and this was due predominantly to the economic downturn in the country.


The company denied wrongfully and unlawfully stopping the Claimant from attending his lawful duties as they were confronted with a situation of “force majeure”, and denied owing Mr. Paul salaries, allowances, pensions, and gratuity and urged the Court to hold that Mr. Paul is not entitled to salaries and wages for services not rendered, and urged the court to dismiss the case.


In opposition, the Claimant's counsel argued that where termination is carried out in a manner that is contrary to the terms of the agreement between the parties, the employer must pay damages for the breach of the agreement, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.


Delivering the judgment after careful analysis of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Elizabeth Oji declared as wrongful and unlawful for the firm to stop Mr. Paul Odiong from attending his lawful duties without paying him all his salaries/entitlements and other benefits accrued to him.


Justice Oji further held that the Defendant is not at liberty to stop an employee from working, without termination, and without payment of his salaries.  


“If the Defendant is yet to take a final decision on the employment of the Claimant, it must know that the Claimant continues to be in its employment, and thus entitled to his salaries for the period.” Court ruled.

 

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