Industrial Court orders firm to pay Abdulahi Ibrahim, 3 Others N8.2m within 30 days

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Hon. Justice Zaynab Bashir of the Portharcourt Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has ordered Presal Nig. Ltd to pay Mr. Abdulahi Ibrahim, Mr. Ayebaiduate Omubo and 2 others the sum of N4,002,459.25 (Four Million, Two Thousand, Four Hundred and Fifty-Nine Naira, Twenty-Five Kobo) as outstanding salaries, allowances and other benefits from December 2015 to September 2016; contributory pension from August 2013 to September 2016 and gratuity payment.

The Court declared Presal Nig. Ltd’s style of paying Mr. Abdulahi Ibrahim, Mr. Ayebaiduate Omubo and 2 others’ outstanding salaries, allowances and other benefits in piecemeal as harsh, wrongful, illegal, and unacceptable; awarded the sum of N4m general damages against the firm and N500,000.00 as cost of action.

Justice Zaynab ordered Presal Nig. Ltd to pay the judgment sum (N8,202,459.25) within 30 days, failure upon which the said sum shall attract interest at the rate of 10% per annum.

From facts, the claimants- Mr. Abdulahi Ibrahim, Mr. Ayebaiduate Omubo and 2 others have alleged that Presal Nig. Ltd terminated their employment without complying with the conditions of service and there was undue delay in the payment of their salaries while some remain unpaid and their pension contributions were not remitted.

The Claimants sought for the payment of their outstanding entitlements in the sum of N4,002,459.25 along with general damages, cost of litigation, an order of reinstatement and payment of entitlements from September 2016 to date.

In defense, the Defendant- Presal Nig. Ltd posited that truly Mr. Abdulahi Ibrahim, Mr. Ayebaiduate Omubo and 2 others are owed salaries and they are making effort to have the salaries paid while the failure to pay was due to economic hardship which has led to the closure of the company and the attendant disengagement of the Claimants. The company admitted to owing the outstanding sum of N3,612,525.77 but denies all other reliefs sought.

Counsel to the firm contended that Mr. Abdulahi Ibrahim and 3 others were paid salaries in lieu of termination which was accepted by them, and their rights and obligation under the employment are deemed to have been extinguished.

In opposition, the Claimants’ Counsel,  I. Orlu-Akwu Esq urged the Court to hold that his clients have proved their case to entitle them to the reliefs sought and accordingly grant all the reliefs.

Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Zaynab Bashir held that the termination of Mr. Abdulahi Ibrahim and 3 others’ employment without notice nor payment of salary in lieu of notice is Wrongful and Unlawful.

The Court declared the Presal Nig. Ltd’s refusal to pay Mr. Abdulahi Ibrahim and 3 others’ outstanding salaries, allowances and other benefits from December 2015 to September 2016; gratuity payment of 50% of their terminal monthly salary for each completed year of service, and withdrawal of the claimants’ money in the name of contributory pension scheme without remitting same is harsh, wrongful, illegal, unacceptable and breach of the claimants’ rights to their salaries, allowances and other benefits.

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