The Presiding Judge, Uyo Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Mahmood Namtari has declared the retrenchment of Mr. Samuel Dick and 14 others security guards from Akwa Ibom State Transport Company as wrongful; ordered the defendants to pay each retrenched staff 1-year salary as damages within 30 days.
The court held that the retrenchment effected by the Akwa Ibom State Transport Company was done by a stranger to the contract and therefore in breach of Mr. Samuel and 14 others' employments with the NSIK Motors.
From facts, the Claimants- Mr. Samuel Dick and 14 others had submitted that they were at all material times employed by the NSIK Motors Limited as security guards in its Headquarters, that Akwa Ibom State Transport Company lacks the legal backing to retrench them.
They averred that the retrenchment was embarrassing to them as no one is prepared to give them another employment, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
In defense, the Defendants argued that the 2nd Defendant- NSIK Motors Limited is a leasee of the 1st Defendant- Akwa Ibom State Transport Company to manage its affairs and therefore the same even though for administrative convenience they use their letter headed papers interchangeably.
They submitted that Mr. Samuel and 14 others were retrenched due to the recession in the country and not on the issue of character or wrongdoing; averred that the company complied with the company staff handbook, urged the court to dismiss the suit for being frivolous.
In opposition, counsel to Mr. Samuel and 14 others, Ekwere Davies Esq. averred that they have shown that NSIK Motors Limited is the rightful person to terminate the employment of his clients and not the Akwa Ibom State Transport Company, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering the judgment, after careful evaluation of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Mahmood Namtari held that Mr. Samuel Dick and 14 others retrenchment by the Akwa Ibom State Transport Company was done in clear breach of their letters of employment.
“So in the absence of any document to ventilate the relationship between the two defendants, the rights and duties inherent therein is left for speculation or conjure, which this court is enjoined not to do. The Instructional Guidelines/Staff Handbook, which the defence enlisted to justify the retrenchment of the Claimants did not also fare any better.” Justice Namtari ruled.
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