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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 orders Construction firm to pay Staff N3.5m damages for Injury within 30 days


796 Monday 8th April 2024

Hon. Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi of the Abuja Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has ordered a construction firm, NJZC Construction Nig Ltd to pay one of its former staff, Mr Muhammed Basiru the sum of N3.5m as general damages and compensation for the permanent scarring on his leg resulting from injury sustained in the course of employment due to the negligence of the firm, and N1m cost of action within 30 days.

 

The Court held that the fact that NJZC Construction Nig Ltd tendered evidence to show that it catered for Mr Basiru's hospital bills does not in any way affect the liability of the firm for breach of its duty of care.

 

From facts, the claimant- Muhammed Basiru had submitted that he suffered a wanton degree of injuries while working at the Fabrication/Welding Department and that the firm left him to personally fund his treatment which treatment he funded through borrowing and could no longer continue with any treatment and the management has resolved to set aside the sum of N50,000.00 monthly for three months to take care of his bills. 

 

Mr. Bashiru alleged that after a few days of treatment, he was advised to resume work immediately and he had no option but to resume as advised but upon resumption, he was subjected to all forms of embarrassment and humiliation.

 

Mr Bashiru stated further that he informed the construction firm that his injury was deteriorating and he would need further treatment but he was surprised to be informed that his service was no longer needed as of 17th November 2022, and all efforts for reinstatement were to no avail.

 

In defense, the defendant- NJZC Construction Nig Ltd denied the averment made by Mr Bashiru and submitted that Mr Bashiru's injury was a result of mis-operation and violation of the safety operation regulation, and averred that Mr Bashiru was taken to the Hospital for immediate attention. 

 

The Construction firm further averred that when Mr. Bashiru recovered and resumed work, he was no longer showing seriousness to his job and it informed Bashiru that his service was no longer required and was told to get his terminal benefits and also the sum of N50,000.00.

 

The Construction firm posited that Mr. Bashiru’s inability to tell the Court the stage at which the company abandoned him during his treatment is fatal to the case as the Court cannot engage in speculation not supported by facts or evidence, and urged the Court to strike out the case in its entirety with substantial cost in the interest of justice.


In opposition, counsel to Mr. Bashiru, E.A. Ekpa Esq with Austine Oboni Esq, and S.I. Okpe Esq submitted further that the defendant’s claim of the purported payment is enough compensation to their client is unreasonable and unsubstantiated, and urged the Court to grant all his reliefs accordingly in the interest of justice, equity and good conscience.


Delivering judgement after careful evaluation of the submission of both parties, the Presiding Judge, Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi held where there exists a service relationship between employer and employee, the former is under a duty to take reasonable care for the actions and safety of the latter in all the circumstances of the case, so as not to cause harm to others or to expose him (employee) to unnecessary risk.


The Court held that the argument of the Construction firm that Mr Bashiru’s injury was caused due to his mis-operation and violation of the safety operation regulation cannot stand, and stated that an employer must provide a safe system of work which is personal to the employer and as such cannot delegate in such a way to absolve him from liability. 


Justice Oyewumi held that NJZC Construction Nig Ltd has breached the statutory duty of care as provided by the Factories Act, and there is nothing put forward by the firm to show that Mr Bashiru was sufficiently trained on how to use the alleged Crane or that as an alternative he was working under the supervision of a qualified person for the purpose of training. 


“I find from the circumstances of this case, that how so ever, one looks at it, whether from the point of view of Claimant that it was the beams negligently placed by some co-employees that injured him or from the point of view of the defendant that it was Claimant that caused his injury himself, it is clear that the defendant was negligent and thus breached the duty of care owed to Claimant resulting in his injury. 


“It is apparent from all stated herein before that the defendant has failed woefully to establish or substantiate that the Claimant indeed contributed to his injury.” The Court ruled.

 

Visit the judgment portal www.nicnadr.gov.ng/judgement for full details