Hon. Justice Ikechi Nweneka of the Lagos Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has struck out the case filed by one Abolade Olawale against Eko Electricity Distribution for non-compliance with the stipulations of the Practice Direction on marking of documents.
The Court held that non-compliance of Abolade's processes with Paragraph 3[a], [b], [c] and [d] of the Practice Direction on marking of documents is fatal to the suit and robs the Court of the competence to adjudicate on it.
Justice Nweneka ruled that the concept of substantial justice will lose its worth if viewed from the prism of the Claimant alone, and a practice direction that ensures quick dispensation of justice cannot be denigrated as a mere technicality.
From facts, the Claimant- Abolade Olawale had commenced the suit by a General Form of Complaint dated and filed on 28th June 2022, sought amongst others for the sum of N100,000,000.00 [One Hundred Million Naira] as general and exemplary damages for alleged unfair labour practices meted out by the Defendant, and the alleged breach of his right to fair hearing under the Handbook and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 [as amended] and the alleged trauma experienced which deteriorated his health physically and mentally.
In defense, the learned counsel to Eko Electricity Distribution, S. E. Okeh Esq. with Joy I. Umensofor filed a notice of objection and prayed to the Court for an order to strike out the entire suit for non-compliance with the mandatory requirements prescribed by the Court’s Practice Directions on marking of exhibits.
In opposition, the learned counsel to the claimant, Oluwabomi Fanoiki Esq submitted that the goal of the Practice Directions is to do substantial justice rather than technical justice, and striking out a case for non-compliance with the Practice Directions amounts to technical justice, urged the Court to dismiss the objection with substantial costs.
Delivering the ruling, the presiding Judge, Justice Ikechi Nweneka after careful evaluation of the submission of both parties, held that the rules of the Court are not made for fun, but to be strictly obeyed and no favours should be shown for non-compliance.
Justice Nweneka maintained that compliance with Paragraph 3[a], [b], [c] and [d] of the Practice Direction on marking of documents is a condition precedent to the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction.
The Court held that the documents which the Claimant seeks to rely on were not marked and the Claimant merely adopted the averment in the statement of facts in his statement on oath.