Portharcourt---His Lordship, Hon. Justice Zaynab Bashir of the National Industrial Court sitting in PortHarcourt has dismissed the suit filed by Mr. Vincent Igenozah against Hydrodam Nigeria Ltd for lacking merit.
The Court held that in the absence of evidence to substantiate the claims, it is most difficult and impracticable for the court to grant the request of the specified sum against the firm.
Arising from the complaint and statement of fact, the Claimant claimed against the Defendant for The sum of =N= 2,144,937.50 being the outstanding terminal benefits due from the Defendant to the Claimant. The Sum of Five Million Naira General damages for the wrongful conduct of the defendant among others.
Arising from the statement of fact and witness statement on oath, the claimant was employed on probation in 2009, confirmed in 2012 and got terminated in 2013, Claimant added that the Defendant failed to pay him redundancy benefits, Christmas Bonus and annual leave allowance as contained in his provisional letter of employment upon terminating of his employment.
With regards to the sum claimed to be owed, the Defendant posited that Claimant got all his entitlement as contained in his letter of employment and not entitled to the sums claimed that that suit is baseless and frivolous.
Arising from the final address, counsel to the Claimant, H.I. Ahmed Esq. contended that having led evidence to show that he was not paid, the burden of proof shifted to the Defendant to show that the Claimant was paid these benefits.
Counsel posited that the Labour Act did not specify an amount to be paid as redundancy benefit but required the employer to negotiate with the employee an attempt which the Defendant rebuffed, that In absence of negotiation, the Claimant asked for the sum of One Million and Seven thousand Naira (N1,007,000.OO) being and representing 20% of Annual Basic Salary per year for the period of 4 years and 5 months as his redundancy allowance since the Defendant failed to negotiate.
In opposition, Counsel to the defendant expressed that the assertion of the Claimant that he was not paid his allowances and bonuses appear unsubstantiated as he did not show any proof of this non-payment.
Delivering the Judgment, Justice Zainab held the terms of a contract is binding between parties thereto and is sacrosanct. It cannot be altered or rewritten by the parties, except under their agreement. expressed thus;
“While I reckon that the Claimant posited that he was not paid at all any of the allowances or bonuses, he admitted during cross-examination that he was not owed salaries at the time of termination of his employment. This suggests that the Claimant was paid his salaries in one form or the other by the Defendant.
“The Claimant could at least present the means by which he receives the payment such as bank statement to establish the fact that he never received allowances or bonuses from the Defendant. In the absence of such scintilla of evidence, it is most difficult and impracticable for the court to grant the claim of the specified sum.
On whether the Claimant is entitled to redundancy allowance as Claimed, the court held that the Claimants did not establish a case of redundancy which is a unique way of disengaging an employee and how the computed sum can be granted as redundancy allowance as the employment letter made no provision for redundancy allowance.
In the final analysis, the case was dismissed in its entirety for lacking merit.