His Lordship, Hon. Justice Elizabeth Oji of the National Industrial Court, Lagos Division has declared the Payportal ltd non-remittance of the Tamunoboma Igah contributory pension funds and personal income tax as unlawful, restrained defendant or its agent from disturbing her in exercising right over company assets in her possession until full satisfaction of the judgment sum.
The court ordered firm to pay Ms Igah two months outstanding salaries, unremitted contributory pension funds with accumulated interest and 500 thousand damages within 30 days.
Ms Igah submitted that upon the directive to tender resignation letter over alleged breach of fiduciary duty to the company which she did, she stressed that her earned monthly salary for November and December 2017, contributory pension funds and deducted personal income tax remained unpaid that the Defendant neither made requisite statutory contribution as an employer nor remitted her contribution.
The Claimant further posited that she withheld the company’s properties in her possession pending remittance of all her entitlements.
The Defendant submitted that the Claimant did not make herself available for the clearance and that the delay in payment of salary was not deliberate and further that nothing in the contract of employment entitles the Claimant to exercise a right of lien over any of its property.
The learned counsel submitted that the case falls within the ambit of a trade dispute that the court cannot assume jurisdiction in the absence of compliance with the clearance modalities.
The Defendant counterclaims amongst others for debts and loans which the Claimant denied.
However, the defendant submits that claimant failed to utilized the knowledge and skills acquired in the training sent abroad to grow the firm establishment but rather it was deployed to run a private outfit with conflicting interest to that of the defendant urged the court to grant N2 million damages for breach of agreement.
The Claimant submitted that no evidence of the breach of the Confidentiality and Non-Compete Clauses; and that she was never given the opportunity to defend the allegation before being forced to resign.
Delivery the Judgment, the trial Judge, Justice Oji assumed jurisdiction and held that the suit does not involve a trade dispute requiring the condition precedent to a cause of action set out in the Trade Disputes Act.
“There is no evidence to suggest that claimant’s salary was dependent on the success of the defendant’s other ventures. I do not accept the defendant’s argument that the payment of the salary should be dependent on the claimant fulfilling the “sign-out modalities or clearance process”.
“If the Defendant had paid the Claimant promptly as at when due, it would not have been outstanding and available to be negotiated as part of the ‘sign-out procedure, at the date of resignation. I, therefore, find and hold that failure of the defendant to pay the claimant for the afore-stated months constitute a breach of the employment contract between the parties.
The court ordered the defendant to pay to the claimant the sum of N503,891.64 outstanding salary for November and December 2017 and sum of N1,250,017.46 unremitted contributory pension funds with accumulated interest from the time the fund ought to have been remitted minus the sum of N38,000.00 counter-claimed.
Justice Oji also ordered the defendant to remit the sum of N605. 150.14 withheld personal income tax to the Lagos State Inland Revenue Service (LIRS) and N500,000.00 exemplary damage within 30 days.