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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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[Dismissal] Industrial Court orders firm to pay Ex-Staff $2,000,000 as general damages, N6m cost within 30 days


1372 Friday 24th March 2023

The Presiding Judge, Awka Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice John Targema has declared the constructive dismissal of Chief Karim Abdul from service of Sea Trucks Limited as wrongful.


The Court ordered Sea Trucks Limited to pay Chief Karim Abdul the sum of $2, 000, 000 as general damages, and N6,000,000 as cost of action within 30 days.


From facts, the claimant- Chief Karim Abdul had submitted that he worked with Sea Trucks Nigeria Limited from February 1978 and retired in March 2015 after 37 years of service at the age of 61 years, and the refusal of the firm to pay him gratuity affected his resettlement into life after retirement, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.


In defense, the defendant- Sea Trucks Limited averred that Chief Abdul did not retire but rather resigned from the employment and thereafter sought and obtained employment with another company, that the case is frivolous, speculative and discloses no reasonable cause of action.


The firm averred that Chief Karim Abdul’s resignation of appointment does not carry with it an entitlement to $11, 099, 186.00 (Eleven Million and Ninety-nine Thousand One Hundred and Eighty Six United States Dollars) gratuity claim as against retirement, and the conditions of service did not provide for gratuity and urged the court to dismiss the case in its entirety.


In opposition, the learned counsel to Chief Abdul, A.K. Idigu Esq submitted that having worked as an employee in the employment of Sea Trucks Limited for over 36 years, his client is entitled to be paid gratuity being terminal benefit by the firm upon retirement.


The counsel alleged that the firm enticed his client who was an impressionable young man in 1978 to Nigeria and profited from his hard work without thinking of or being bothered to make provisions for his compensation of many years of service and transition to life after retirement when he committed all the best working years of his life in service to defendant’s employment is contrary to public policy and repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.


Counsel further averred that the court will not fold its hands in haplessness and watch his client go into retirement at an advanced age in penury on the ground that his client did not negotiate for terminal benefit or gratuity when joining the firm over 44 years ago that such unconscionable act, akin to modern slavery, must be condemned in the overriding interests of public policy and the judiciary should side with the party at a disadvantage.


Delivering judgment after careful evaluation of the submissions of both parties, the presiding Judge, Hon. Justice John Targema held that the defendant did not contradict Chief Karim Abdul’s evidence where he was instructed to resign and declared such constructive dismissal as wrongful.


The Court awarded the sum of $2, 000, 000 as general damages, and N6, 000, 000 as cost of action in favour of Chief Abdul.

 

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