Court orders firm to pay ex-staff N25.1m entitlement claims within 30 days


 The National Industrial Court, on Wednesday ordered  Global Haulage Resources Limited, to pay its former staff member,  Ogunlowo Charles, N25.1 million, being outstanding salary, allowances, gratuity and unremitted pension contributions within 30 days.

Justice Osat Obaseki-Osaghae who delivered a virtual judgment, proceeding also ordered that failure of the defendant to comply with the judgment will attract 10 percent   per annum until the sum was liquidated.

The judge in addition ordered  the defendant to inform the claimant’s Pension Administrator  within seven days of his resignation and eligibility to access his pension fund.

She further awarded the sum of N100,000 in favour of the claimant as cost for prosecution of the suit.

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The court had formulated three issues for determination in order to arrive at the judgment. One of the issue was ” when does a letter of resignation become effective?”.

The court in answering the question ruled that a letter of resignation become valid the moment it was received, not the date of acceptance and that it was not compulsory that the letter must be replied to, to make it valid.

The judge in addition held that the claimant effectively resigned from his appointment on Jan. 29,2016, therefore the defendant’s letter of indefinite suspension was a futile exercise , was of no effect and proceeded to set aside  the letter.

Obaseki-Osaghae also said that there was no evidence proven by the  claimant as to how he arrived at the sum  of N37.1million  being his  unpaid entitlements.

She ruled that there were no particulars, neither were they in the processes the claimant filed before the court to substantiate his claim,  but that instead the claimant had dumped some documents on the court without prove.

She said because  it was not the duty of the court to embark on voyage of discovery, and the failure of the claimant to prove otherwise, that the defendant was therefore not indebted to the claimant to that amount.

The judge however said because the defendant admitted to be indebted to the claimant to the tune of N26.6million, she ordered the defendant to pay the claimant the sum of N25.1 million.

The court arrived at the sum after deducting the sum of N1.1million as the amount spent on exotic phones  ( N400,000) and  money meant for Public Relations    ( N700,000),: that ended up in the claimant’s personal account.

Charles,  the claimant who was  the Chief Financial Officer/ General Manager was employed by Ventures and Trusts Limited, the first defendant, in Feb. 2008 and was later seconded to  Global Haulage in a letter which  stated that Global Haulage was going to be responsible for his remunerations from that time.

Charles, from processes filed on July 11,2016 had stated that in 2014, it became difficult for the company to pay its staff as it encountered some financial snags.

The claimant further submitted that he tendered his letter of resignation, which was acknowledged as received on Jan.29,2016, and equally notified the second defendant on proceeding for his accumulated leave from Feb.2016 to May 25, 2016.

According to the claimant, he received a letter of indefinite suspension to enable the second defendant to commence a disciplinary action against him   on Feb. 11,2016.

He therefore sought for a declaration that by virtue of his resignation letter he was no longer an employee of the second defendant after Jan. 29,2016 and that the decision of the defendant to suspend him was illegal.

He also sought for an order of the court to set aside the purported letter of indefinite suspension and issue a letter informing his Pension  Fund Administrator of  his resignation to enable him access his pension.

The claimant further prayed for an order of court to direct the second defendant to pay him the sum of N37.1million as his unpaid salary, allowances, gratuity and unremitted pension contributions.

Other reliefs sought by the claimant were 10 percent  interest on judgment sum from the time of his resignation until date of judgment, then subsequently at 15 percent per annum and cost of suit.

The defence in its statement of defence and reply  filed on Oct. 28, 2016 had argued that an audit of the company’s account had revealed that the claimant had embarked on wasteful expenditures such as purchasing of exotic phones.

The defendant also averred that fund meant for Public Relations and Business Development ended up in the claimant’s personal account,which necessitated the commencement of disciplinary action against him. (NAN)

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