The Presiding Judge, Owerri Judicial division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Galadima has ordered Guinness Nigeria Plc to pay Mr. Armstrong Abamba the sum of N11,218,800.32 unpaid salaries from May 1st 2012 to December 31st 2019 within 30 days.
The Court held that the indefinite suspension gave to Abamba on the 16/5/2012 and subsequent termination of his employment on the 31/5/2018 was unfair, unlawful; wrongful and against the provisions of the disciplinary policy of the firm.
According to the Claimant- Abamba, the fact that he was detained and prosecuted for the offense he purportedly did not commit, and was never factored by the firm before he was indefinitely suspended, that the company owed a duty of care by ensuring that his interest was protected in the very least when he was unlawfully detained.
Against this, the firm argued that based on their policy of no work, no pay as contained in the Disciplinary procedure, the Claimant not being at his duty post, could not have been paid any salaries and as such, and further that the company had the right to suspend him pending the outcome of the investigation of the charged offense.
In addition, Guiness Nig Plc submitted that the termination of the Abamba employment was done in line with the terms and conditions of his employment urged the Court to dismiss the suit in its entirety as same is unmeritorious, a gold-digging exercise and bereft of any cognizable legal basis.
In opposition, learned counsel to the claimant, Professor U. U Chukwumaeze (SAN maintained that no disciplinary committee tried the Claimant either prior or after his suspension and subsequent termination of the appointment, urged the court to grant all his relief.
Delivering Judgment after careful analysis of the submissions of both counsel, the trial Judge, Justice Galadima held that the Defendant’s Disciplinary Procedure Policy on the suspension of its employees whether during an investigation or as a sanction, does not contrarily, stipulates that such suspension shall be indefinite.
“In fact, it clearly provides that during the suspension, the employee shall still be regarded as still employed in order to prevent him from working elsewhere.
“Flowing from the above declarations, it follows that the Claimant is legally entitled to the salaries he would have earned from the time it was withheld, till the date of the termination of his employment, which in this case, shall be the time of pronouncement of this judgment.
“Therefore, based on the available facts and evidence before this Court, I believe the Claimant established that his last received salary in April 2012 is the sum of N123,283.52.
"This Court now orders the payment of the Claimant’s salaries from May 1st 2012 to 31st December 2019 at his last known paid salary which is N123,283.52, totalling N11,218,800.32, be paid to him within 30 days of this judgment which shall in default, attract an interest of 10% per annum until it is fully and finally liquidated." Justice Galadima Ruled.
The Court dismissed damages claim for lack of sufficient evidence.