The Presiding Judge, Kano Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Ebiye Isele has ordered Dangote Cement to pay one of its former truck drivers, Anas Ibrahim accumulated salary from August 2020 to August 2021 and the sum of N847,450:00 representing the settlement of the Claimant’s hospital bills forthwith.
The court held that since Mr. Anas Ibrahim suffered the injuries while in the employment of the firm and was subsequently hospitalized for months for treatment, it is only fair in the interest of justice and the circumstance of the case that Ibrahim be paid his salary from August 2020 to August 2021 when the company repudiated the employment relationship.
However, Justice Isele held that Mr. Anas Ibrahim had not shown the court that there is a duty of care which the firm owed him leading to the accident and trying to blame the company’s staff that were at the depot for not allowing him to stay over does not amount to a good excuse because the depot Managers were never named and were not called to give evidence.
From fact, the claimant- Mr. Anas Ibrahim had submitted that on 01/07/2020 during the normal course of employment, he transported Cement Products from the Company Factory in Ogun State to the Company Depot at Ikorudu, Lagos State, and was thereafter directed by the Management of the firm’s depot to return to Ogun State that same day due to the Defendant’s policy that unloaded Trucks are not allowed to be parked at the premises.
The Claimant also averred that he was forced to leave the premises of the depot the same day at around 5pm and after navigating the Sango Ota toll gate successfully, a truck driver who was driving recklessly at the top speed lost control of his vehicle and ran into him and he lost consciousness and was taken to hospital where his medical expenses totaled the sum of N874,450:00 (Eight Hundred and Forty-Seven Thousand Four Hundred and Fifty Naira) were incurred.
He averred further that Dangote Cement had refused to pay his salaries from August 2020 till date, and compensation, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought.
In defense, the defendant- Dangote Cement denied Ibrahim's assertion and maintained that no duty of care was breached and from its investigation, it was found out that the Claimant was sighted exiting the premises without any forewarning and nobody could have stopped him from leaving because it is generally known that Claimant’s duty post is at Ibese Ilaro Ogun State.
The defendant also averred that it was instrumental in taking Mr. Ibrahim to the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta from the Sango Ota Hospital in a bid to provide him access to a better medical facility with an initial deposit of N100,000:00k while also gifted his family with another N100,000:00k for other medical bills.
In a further submission, the firm also denied abandoning the Claimant as it sent its staff to check up on him from time to time and even made money available for the Test, X-rays, Drugs, and Ambulance throughout the Claimant’s stay at Federal Medical Centre Abeokuta before the Claimant suddenly disappeared, urged the court to dismiss the case for lacking merit.
In opposition, the claimant's counsel averred that the defendant breached the duty of reasonable care for the safety of his client when the staff of the Defendant Company at the Ikorodu depot refused the request of the Claimant to spend the night at the premises of the Cement Depot and his yet to be compensated for the accident and injury sustained.
Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Isele held that the only fact found capable of making the Defendant responsible is that the Claimant was its employee at the time of the accident every other fact in this matter does not favour the Claimant’s case.
The Court further explained that clause D in exhibit A1 which provides for driving hours and conditions are to be strictly adhered to. These are from 6 am to 7 pm and no driving while rain falls, poor visibility, the influence of alcohol, drugs, etc.
“From the above, I find that the Claimant was not in compliance with the Defendant’s laid down rule in continuing to drive after 7 pm after enduring a more than two hours gridlock at the Sango toll gate from where he continued to drive makes him contributorily negligent.
“I hold that it was careless of him to have continued since he knew he was even fatigued.” Justice Isele ruled.
Lastly, the Court dismissed N50m compensation and other claims for lacking merit.