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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 clears firm on negligence, awards cost against former Staff


1189 Friday 14th October 2022

The Presiding Judge, Abuja judicial division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Osat Obaseki-Osaghae has declared that Euro Global Foods and Distilleries Ltd is not in breach of duty of care to his former staff, Fredrick Ikhaghu, and was not negligent in employing him as a Sales Representative.


The Court ruled that Mr. Fredrick Ikhaghu has been fully and adequately compensated in line with the Workmen Compensation Act at the time the accident occurred and was not entitled to any further compensation as that will amount to double compensation for the same injury that the law does not permit.


From facts, the claimant- Mr. Fredrick Ikhaghu averred that in the course of his duty conveying the company’s goods to Kano, he was involved in an accident with the company’s vehicle due to the overload and bad tyres which led to the injury suffered.


He pleaded that the major injury resulted in his permanent disability in spite of the surgery and was again diagnosed with Hematuria and other pathological problems, in connection with the disability and injuries and has not been adequately compensated by the Insurance.


He further averred that the firm owe him a duty of care and never considered his safety including that of other road users otherwise it would have ascertained his driving ability before allowing him to embark on the journey to Kano, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.


In defense, the defendant- Euro Global Foods and Distilleries Ltd averred that in the course of the interview conducted, Mr. Fredrick Ikhaghu claimed that he has the requisite skill and knows how to drive a vehicle perfectly as a sale representative; that he has been a licensed driver by FRSC since 1996 and worked with many firms assigned with a vehicle to drive.


The defendant stated that the vehicle was not overloaded at any time prior, or at the time Mr. Fredrick Ikhaghu used same to embark on any journey for the purpose of conveying its goods for sale. 


The company maintained that by virtue of the FRSC’s claim that the driver’s license of the claimant is not valid, the conclusion that the claimant lacks the requisite skill of driving was known aftermath of the accident and not an act of negligence or breach of duty of care on their part since the firm had no prior knowledge that the information supplied by Mr. Fredrick was false. 


The defendant stated that it was responsible for all the medical bills incurred at the hospital and paid him salaries during the period of the treatment and while off duties, and has been treated successfully, fit, and in good health, hence his resumption to his duty post, and was able to perform all his functions until June 2016 when the depot was closed down.


The company counsel, Joseph T. Ogunniyi Esq stated that in the event that the claimant denies his representation in the course of his interview and subsequent employment, he is guilty of contributory negligence and as such not entitled to be compensated as already done by the Insurance Company, and urged the court to grant the counter-claim reliefs sought.

 

In opposition, the learned counsel to the claimant argued that the plea of contributory negligence can not avail the defendant that the claimant has been able to prove that the defendant negligently issued orders to him to carry out in the line of duty which the claimant could not have disobeyed.


Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Obaseki-Osaghae held that the company was not negligent in ascertaining that Mr. Fredrick was qualified to drive its vehicle, and declined to grant the declarations reliefs sought for lacking merit.


The Court ruled that Mr. Fredrick has been fully compensated by the defendant in respect of the Industrial Accident of 28th of February, 2014 in line with the Workmen Compensation Act and awarded the sum of N100,000 in favour of the firm as costs.


“I find that the Insurers assessed the claimant’s injuries and paid the sum of N1,441,344.00 to the defendant for the medical expenses incurred (exhibit D7 & D11); and N688,500.00 to the claimant by Union Bank Cheque dated 24/7/2015 (exhibit D8) for temporary partial disability under the Workmen Compensation Act in full and final settlement of the claim.”    Court ruled.


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