His Lordship, Hon. Justice Ikechi Nweneka of the Lagos Judicial division of the National Industrial Court has ordered Limex Global Ltd to pay her former staff, Mahmoud Ajami the outstanding salary of US$7,540; Fouad Ajami, Hussein Abass the sum of $11,907 and $9,404 respectively being their outstanding salary, salary in lieu of notice and leave entitlement.
However, the Court held that Mahmoud Ajami and others have not proved their claims for disengagement benefits as contained in the employee handbook and Mahmoud did not prove his claim for salary in lieu of notice.
Justice Nweneka also granted an order of injunction restraining the firm from using the Police or other security agencies for harassing them.
From facts, the Claimants – Mahmood Ajami and 3 others had submitted that they were disengaged between December 2018 and January 2019 respectively, contended that it is the practice and policy of the firm to pay disengaged staff benefits, placed reliance on letters of termination of employment of two ex-staff, demanded their entitlement claims and the sum of N5m as damages.
In defence, the firm submitted that Mahmood and others were not prevented from collecting their outstanding payments which they rejected, but disputed the claims for terminal benefits, argued that claimants failed to prove their entitlement to disengagement benefits that expatriate employees have different conditions of service that no agreement to pay benefits to disengagement staff, urged the court to reject the claim and to dismiss the suit for being frivolous, speculative, without merit and unproven.
In opposition, claimants counsel, David O. Odde Esq contended that the employee handbook applies to the expatriates and maintained that the firm has a policy of payment of benefits to its disengaged staff, and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding judge, Justice Ikechi Nweneka held that the contract of service is the bedrock upon which an aggrieved employee must found his case that the claimants did not fall into any categories of those with disengagement benefits as contained in the employee handbook.
“While from the evidence, the contributory pension scheme does not apply to expatriate staff; it has not been shown that the general regulations contained in the employee handbook are inapplicable to Claimants.
“However, where it is necessary to prove a practice, some persons who have benefitted from that practice ought to be called as witnesses.
“Arising from the foregoing, I hold that Claimants have failed to prove that it is the Defendant’s practice to pay expatriate employees terminal benefits calculated by multiplying their basic monthly salary at the point of disengagement by their years of service.