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Industrial Court faults firm over gratuity ceasure, awards N1 Million damages

265 Wednesday 11th August 2021

Hon. Justice Zaynab Bashir of the Portharcourt Judicial division of the National Industrial Court has declared the ceasure of One Chima Adumakwe gratuity benefits and non-remittance of his pension savings as unlawful, null and void; ordered Global Lifting Ltd to pay Chima the sum of Seven Hundred and Forty-One Thousand, One Hundred and Seventy Naira [N741,170] as gratuity benefits, 1 million Naira as general damages and 200 hundred-thousand-naira costs of action within 30 days.


Justice Zaynab also granted an order compelling the firm to pay and remit all arrears of Chima pension savings to his pension fund administrator.


The court held that the firm has no justifiable reason for failing to pay Chima Adumakwe the computed gratuity benefits and no evidence that his pension contribution for the months of January 2017 to May 2018 was remitted. 


From facts, the claimant- Chima Adumakwe had submitted that he had his employment confirmed on the 1st of January, 2011 after 6 months of being on probation and worked till 2018 when he got another job overseas and informed the company about it following which he tendered resignation effective from 30th of May, 2018 and a letter of acceptance was issued to him indicating the end of service and stating the payment of his Gratuity benefit.


He added that since his exit in May 2018, his gratuity benefits have not been paid to him by the firm in addition to his pension arrears despite several demands.


In defense, the firm submitted that what is statutorily due to Chima Adumakwe has been duly remitted to his pension managers that the said abolished gratuity scheme and non-existent employee handbook is what the Claimant predicates his claim for gratuity.


Learned counsel to the firm, A. Akinwole Esq concluded by urging the Court to dismiss the case in its entirety and award costs.


In response, the claimant counsel argued that it is a misdirection for the firm to contend that the pension of his client has been remitted after admitting to the failure of the old management’s failure to remit same; urged the court to grant the claims of his client in the interest of justice.


Delivering the judgment after a thorough evaluation of the submissions of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Zaynab Bashir held that the firm merely made assertions without any scintilla of proof as it relates to the issue of non-payment of gratuity to the Claimant. 


The court expressed that the letter that notified Chima Adumakwe of his entitlement of gratuity made no reference whatsoever to any scheme nor handbook and that concretizes the fact that the firm has no defense whatsoever for not paying the Claimant the gratuity which has been officially notified that would be paid. 


Justice Zaynab further held that the firm woefully failed to establish the reason for not paying the stated sum to the Claimant after leaving the employment since the 31st of May 2018 that the court is convinced that Chima Adumakwe is entitled to the payment of his gratuity in the sum stated by the firm. 

 

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