The National Industrial Court, Abuja, on Monday dismissed a suit filed by Ndubueze Uchechukwu, an employee of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for lacking in merit.
Uchechukwu had filed a suit against NAFDAC, challenging the agency’s decision to unofficially stop the payment of his salary in November 2011, even though he was never sacked and his pension scheme was still running.
Delivering judgment, Justice Zaynab Bashir held that NAFDAC legitimately stopped the payment of the claimant’s salary, when he stopped working on Dec.9, 2010.
The Judge further held that the claimant did not deserve any salary payment from March 2012 to date, as claimed, noting that the basis for salary was work.
Justice Bashir, therefore, dismissed the case for lacking in merit, stressing that the defendant did not resume work in Maiduguri as directed by his employer.
“Bearing the foregoing in mind, I reckon that there are other employees of the defendant in the said Maiduguri and I cannot agree any less with the counsel to the defendant.
“In all, what is deducible from the combination of Exhibits, which are the letters written by the claimant to the DG, is that the claimant had stayed away from work since Dec.9, 2010.
“He did not resume at the Maiduguri office at all and also stopped working at the Port Harcourt office where he was before the posting,” the judge ruled.
The claimant had averred that he had yet to recover from the traumatic effect of a kidnap incident when he was hurriedly transferred to Maiduguri.
He had also posited that due to the fear of a repeat of the kidnap incident, he did not resume in Maiduguri, upon which he was queried.
The claimant’s counsel, N. Choko, had in his submission averred that the defendant was duty bound to provide a safe working environment for his client.
Choko had further argued that the defendant ought not to have forced a traumatised staff into a war zone.
He had also urged the court to grant all the reliefs sought by his client, since he was not sacked officially by NAFDAC.
NAFDAC’s counsel, M. Abutu, had in his submission, objected to the suit on the ground that the suit was an abuse of court process, as the claimant had filed another suit which was pending at the Federal High Court.
Abutu also submitted that the failure of the claimant to serve a pre-action notice made the suit to lack merit and urged the court to dismiss it.
He had further argued that the conduct of the claimant was a willful disobedience to the lawful directive of his employer, stressing that he was aware of the implication of such disobedience.(NAN)