Abuja –His Lordship, Hon. Justice A. N. Agbakoba of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Sitting in Abuja has declared the failure of Globacom Telecommunication Limited to pay her former staff Abdullahi Tijani salary from 7th July 2014 to 26th May 2015 as breach of contract of employment, ordered firm jointly and severally to pay sum of N495, 000.00 as cumulated unpaid salary, N45,000 asGeneral Damages and N100,000 Cost of action within 30 days.
The court held that lack of documentation or a letter of Employment does not without more amounts to a lack of contractual obligation as the law recognizes oral contract.
The claimant, by a General Form of Complaint, filed on 30th March 2017 sought against the defendants among others; A Declaration that the action of the defendants in failing to pay the claimant’s salary from 7th July 2014 till date is a breach of contract of employment. A declaration that the employment of the claimant is still subsisting, valid and effective till date.
An order directing the Defendants to jointly and severally pay the claimant his salary which is (forty five thousand naira) N45, 000 monthly from 7th July, 2014 till October, 2016 which amount to N1, 215,000 (one million two hundred and fifteen thousand naira) and thereafter the sum of N45, 000 per month from November 2016 till when the employment of the claimant is validly determined by the defendants.
The Claimant averred that at all material time has been a staff of Globacom Telecommunication Limited -1st Defendant who works under the direct supervision and instruction of the Abdullahi Muhammed -2nd Defendant as a driver, who was also a staff and activation manager of the 1st Defendant.
The claimant averred that he was verbally informed by the 2nd defendant on behalf of the defendants, that his salary is Forty-Five thousand Naira (N45, 00000) per month, however, that since the inception of his employment with the defendants he was never paid salary.
1st her statement of defense, defendant counsel A. Benjamin Esq maintained that the 1st defendant did not employ the claimant on a monthly salary of Forty-Five Thousand Naira (N45,000.00) and at no time authorized or instructed the 2nd defendant to employ the claimant orally or verbally as employment of 1st defendant’s staff is vested strictly on Human Resource Department prayed the court to dismiss the claimant’s claims in its entirety that the claim Constitutes abuse of use of court processes, Frivolous and lacking merit.
Counsel submitted that the claimant has woefully failed to prove that he was employed by the 1st defendant having failed to tender the contract/letter of appointment with its terms and conditions of employment.
Learned Counsel to the claimant Abdullahi Muhammad Esq posited that contract of employment can be oral or written, express or implied by the parties to the contract and further argued that 1st defendant is liable under vicarious liability for the wrong act of the 2nd defendant.
To the 1st Defendant, the scope of 2nd defendant duty is to sell, activate and sell 1st defendant recharge and sim cards and not to employ any person. Therefore, the 2nd defendant exceeded his authority when he employed the claimant to drive his official car, that the 1st defendant is not liable to the claimant.
The presiding Judge, Hon. Justice A. N. Agbakoba after evaluation held that lack of documentation or a letter of Employment does not without more amounts to a lack of contractual obligation as the law recognizes oral contract.
“It has been proved that the claimant applied for a job with the defendant, I find that the contention of the Defendant Witness during trial that the defendant does not employ drivers and that drivers were personal to their officers flies in the face of this fact and Drivers Employment Clearance Form dated 5th July 2017 together with an internal memo requesting authorization to employ the Claimant dated 27th January 2015.
“Without any direct evidence contradicting this piece of evidence as well as the admission of the 1st defendant that the vehicle in question belongs to them and the 1st Defendants averment that the said exhibit is a mere requisition to employ the claimant and that the said exhibit was never forwarded to the Human Resource Department falls short of the legal requirement of an effective traverse of a signed document.
“Given all these facts, therefore, I have no hesitation in holding that the claimant was a staff of the 1st defendant; and I so find and hold. All this means is that in situations where an employer fails to pay his employee due wages when due amounts to a breach of contract. .” Justice Agbakoba rules
The court declared the action of the defendants in failing to pay the claimant’s salary from 7th July 2014 to 26th May 2015 as a breach of contract of employment, ordered defendants jointly and severally pay to the claimant the sum of N495, 000.00. being his salary which is (forty-five thousand naira) N45, 000 monthly from 7th July 2014 to 25th May 2015, Forty-Five thousand Naira as General Damages and 100,000 Cost of action within 30 days.