IN THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT OF NIGERIA
IN THE ABUJA JUDICIAL DIVISION
HOLDEN AT ABUJA
BEFORE: HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE SANUSI KADO
22ND DAY OF DECEMBER 2020 SUIT NO: NICN/ABJ/55/2015
1. OYELESE TAOFEEK ABIODUN
2. FABIYI ABAYOMI ABIOLA
3. ARIYO DAVID OLUWASEYI
4. ENEANYA GODFREY
5. DURUEKE DANIEL OSISIOMA CLAIMANTS
6. OYEBISI MICHEAL ABIMBOLA
7. ONI TEMITOPE DAVID
8. KAYODE KAFARU
9. OGUNNAIKE KAYODE
10. AKINFOLAJU GANIYU
STABILINI VISINONI LIMITED -- DEFENDANT
1. The claimants commenced this suit via general form of complaint dated and filed on 4/3/2015. The complaint was accompanied by statement of facts, witness statement on oath, list of witnesses, list of document to be relied on at the trial and photo copies of documents to be tendered in evidence at the trial.
2. The facts that led the claimants to file this suit as can be gleaned from the originating process and oral testimony of the claimants are to the effect that the claimants’ were employed by the Defendant at different times and on various Grade levels. The individual letters of employment of 1st to 7th claimants were tendered and admitted in evidence. While the 8th to 10th claimants did not tender letters of employment, but tendered some of their salary pay slips. The claimants also tendered their Identity cards in evidence. The claimants after completion probation for six moths’ have their employment confirmed by the defendant. The claimants averred that they served defendant for over seven years during the period they served diligently and in accordance with general schedule of work. They also averred that during the period of service they were subjected with all manners of work hazards and poor welfare. They were never issued with any query. They dedicated their time and energy to the service of the defendant. They maintained cordial relationship with the defendant and its clients; until August 2014 when the defendant sent a ‘’notice of stood off’’ see Exhibit CW1D & E. According to the claimants, before the issuance of ‘’notice of stood off’’ the defendant had not been meeting up with its financial obligations to the claimants. As the defendant was in default of payment of basic salaries, housing allowance, benefits and other entitlements.
3. The defendant after sending claimants on compulsory stood off without salary and other benefits/allowances attempted to evacuate all ‘’stood off’ staff in the defendant’s accommodation in Lugbe Abuja. The defendant despite several demands has failed refused and/or neglected to pay the outstanding salaries, arrears emoluments and other benefits/allowances and also full remittance of pension. The claimants averred that the defendant unjustly withheld their salary arrears, emolument, pension fund and other outstanding benefit.
4. The 1st Claimant averred that his contract of employment with the Defendant is bound by the “The condition of service of Stabilini Visinoni Limited (i.e. “the terms and conditions of service”) the 2nd–10th Claimants have averred that their employment with the Defendant is bound by the National Joint Industrial Council Agreement on Terms and Conditions of Service for all Senior Employees in the Building and Civil Engineering Industry in Nigeria (NJIC)" (Exhibit “CW11A1-21”, Exhibit “CW11B1-16” and Exhibit “CW11C1-16”)..
5. It is based on the facts stated above that the claimants are seeking for the following reliefs:-
1. A DECLARATION that the withholding of the 1st to 10th Claimants salaries, emoluments, benefits and all other entitlements amounting to the sum of
N39, 410,056.59 (Thirty Nine Million, Four Hundred and Ten Thousand, Fifty Six Naira, Fifty Nine Kobo) by the Defendant is illegal, null and void and a breach of the Claimants’ contract of employment and the labour Act CAP LI Laws of the Federation, 2004.
2. AN ORDER compelling the defendant to pay the Claimants the sum of
N39, 410, 056.59 (Thirty Nine Million, Four Hundred and Ten Thousand, Fifty Six Naira, Fifty Nine Kobo) being salaries, emoluments, benefits and all other benefits.
3. The Claimants each claim one month salary in lieu of notice.
4. An ORDER compelling the Defendant to pay the Claimants the sum of
N100, 000.00 (One Hundred Million Naira) being the general damages for breach of contract and inhuman treatment.
5. Substantial cost of this action.
6. In response to the claims of the claimant, the Defendant filed a Statement of Defence on 29th June 2015 and same was deemed properly filed and served by this Honourable Court on 19th October 2018. The Claimants filed a reply in response thereto on 3rd February 2016.
7. In the defence put forward, the defendant denied being bound by collective agreements (NJIC). The Defendant avers that the only document guiding its employment relationship with the Claimants is their respective letters of employment.
8. The Defendant confirmed the Claimant’s position that some members of staff of the company working in Abuja were issued a “Notice of stood off” owing to the fact that the Defendant’s branch in Abuja had not engaged in any construction project/activity whatsoever for a very long time, which led to pressing economic conditions and a harsh operating business clime. The defendant could not defray its overhead cost and it orally agreed with the Claimants and other members of staff, that they should stay off work indefinitely till the company is engaged by its clients/prospective clients. The defendant in agreement with its members of staff including the claimants decided to adopt this approach in order to sustain the employment relationship between the defendant and its staff, instead of adopting the alternative by terminating its employment relationship with the members of staff affected. The Defendant stated that the claim of the claimants is at variance with their letters of employment. The outstanding payments yet to be made to the claimants by the defendant had been stated.
9. The claimants testified individually in proof of their respective claim, as CW1 to CW10. After adopting their witness statement on oath tendered documents in evidence. A subpoenaed witness by name Eze Ezekhumhe Otaru George, also testifies and tendered exhibit CW11A and CW11B, respectively.
10. The Defendant called a sole witness, one Mr Adisa Azeez, a Site Auditor in its employment, who testified in proof of the defence.
11. At the close of the Defendant’s case, the Court ordered parties to file their respective Final Written Addresses.
12. The Defendant filed its Final Written Address on 10th day of August, 2020. While the claimants filed their final written address on 7/9/2020, to which the defendant filed a reply on 17/9/2020.
13. The defendant in the final written address formulated a preliminary issue and a sole issue in respect of the substantive suit. The two issues submitted and argued by counsel for the defendant, are:-
1. Whether the Claimants’ suit as presently constituted is a misjoinder of causes of action?
2. “Whether the Claimants are entitled to the reliefs sought in their Statement of Claim dated 4thMarch 2015?”
14. The preliminary issue borders on an objection to the suit, is dealing with misjoinder of causes of action. According to counsel the claimants are having distinct causes of action their interest is distinct and common interest, they cannot sue together in one suit, each one of them must sue individually.
15. In opposing the objection, the claimants refer to Order 13 of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (Civil Procedure) Rules, which allowed claimants to sue or be sued. It was also argued that mis-joinder in a suit cannot in law defeat an action, it is a mere irregularity. It was also argued that the objection is attempt by the defendant to rely on technicality to defeat substantial justice. Joinder or non-joinder is provided by the rules of court.
16. The Defendant in its final written address formulated a preliminary issue/objection and a sole issue for determination. In arguing the issues formulated by the Defendant, the Defendant has dwell heavily on the fact that the Claimants are still the employees of the Defendant as a result the Claimants are not entitled to any of their reliefs sought. The claimants further submitted that this court has become functus officio.
17. After careful perusal of the argument of counsel for both sides for and against the preliminary objection and all the processes filed in this suit. it is manifestly clear that the defendant had vide motion on notice dated 25/5/2015 and filed on the same day, raised same issue which is being raised herein. The issue being raised in the final written address is same with issue raised in the course of the trial. With the ruling of 8/12/2015, on this issue, this court has becomes functus officio. This means that the decision/ruling cannot be revisited, revised, altered or modified by this court, as this court has no power of review over its decision. As that power belongs to the court of Appeal.
18. The action of the counsel for the defendant in raising this issue amount to abuse of court process as the court cannot determine an issue twice. Saraki V Kotoye (1992) NWLR (Pt.289), Fasakin Foods (nig) Co. Ltd V Shosanya (2003) b17 NWLR (Pt.849) 237, Commissioner for Edeucation Imo State V Amadi (2013 13 NWLR (Pt.1370) 133. Having found the preliminary issue to be an abuse of court process same is hereby discontented and dismissed. See NIWA V SPDCN Ltd (2020) 16 NWLR (Pt1749) 160, Julius Berger (Nig) Ltd V Ugo (2020) 10 NWLR (Pt.1732) 203. The preliminary issue is hereby resolved in favour of the claimants against the defendant.
19. I now, turn to the main issue for resolution, which is:-
“Whether the Claimants are entitled to the reliefs sought in their Statement of Claim dated 4thMarch 2015?”
20. It is evident from the originating process commencing this suit that the Claimants’ suit seeks to recover their outstanding arrears of salaries, emolument and other benefits/allowances and also full remittance of their pension funds which are purportedly being unjustly withheld by the Defendant, despite several entreaties made to obtain same from the Defendant.
21. The claimants’ main grouse is on the refusal or neglect by the defendant in flagrant disregard and breach of the provisions of the National Joint Industrial Council Agreements (Exhibit “CW11A1-21”, Exhibit “CW11B1-16” and Exhibit “CW11C1-16”), to pay the Claimants their entitlements under the said agreements, which the defendant has adopted as part of the terms of the Claimants’ employment.
22. The Defendant in its defence has admitted owing the Claimants certain sums of money and has posited that the Notice of Stood off and a failure to pay the Claimants their entitlements were as a result of its inability to defray its overhead costs.
23. The Defendant has also denied neither being bound by the National Joint Industrial Council Agreements (Exhibit “CW11A1-21”, Exhibit “CW11B1-16” and Exhibit “CW11C1-16”) nor being a member of the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) while admitting on the other hand under cross examination that the National Joint Industrial Council agreement applies to the Claimants’ Letter of Employment.
24. I have assiduously and painstakingly studied the claims of the claimants, the defence put forward by the defendant as well as the written and oral submissions of counsel for and against the reliefs (claims) being sought by the claimants against the defendant.
25. What emerges from the reliefs being sought by the claimants is that the claimants’ case is a claim for liquidated sums of money i.e. special damages, which by NNPC v. Clifco Nigeria Ltd  LPELR-2022(SC), Anyaegbunam v. Osaka  5 NWLR (Pt. 294) 449, Obayagbona v. Obazee  5 SC 247 and 7UP Bottling Company Plc v. Augustus  LPELR-20873(CA) must be specifically pleaded, claimed and proved specially by concrete evidence. But before getting to the point of proof, the claimant must show an entitlement to the claims. See Mr. Mohammed Dungus & ors v. ENL Consortium Ltd  60 NLLR (Pt. 208) The claimants in the main, clings on the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) Agreement on Terms and Conditions of Service for All Senior Employees in the Building and Civil Engineering Industry in Nigeria of 2012 and 2014, as well as that of junior staff in making their claims.
26. Having based their claims on the NJIC agreements of 2012, and 2014, for senior and junior employees, the question that must first be resolved is whether the claimants can claim the benefit of the said agreements. Exhibit CW11A1-21, exhibit CW11B1-16 and exhibit CW11C1-16 are the National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) Agreements on Terms and Conditions of Service for All Senior and junior Employees in the Building and Civil Engineering Industry in Nigeria dated 27/1/2014, 14/1/2014 and 2/3/2012, respectively, which are collective agreements.
27. A careful perusal of the provisions of exhibit CW11A1-21, will show that the terms of the agreement shall apply to junior staff or employees who have been designated as senior staff by their employers in the Building and Construction Industry in Nigeria. While exhibits CW11B1-16 and exhibit CW11C1-16, the terms of the agreements shall apply to senior staff as defined by section 3(4) of the Trade Unions Amendment Act 1978 and/or employees who have been designated as seiner staff by their employers in the Construction Industry in Nigeria, excluding employees defined as “worker” in section 90 of the Labour Act 1974.
28. In computing their claims before the court, the claimant relied on the 2012, and 2014 NJIC Agreements. For outstanding arrears of salaries, entitlements, allowance and pension. The claimants under cross-examination, testified that they calculated their entitlement using NJIC document, which is a collective agreement between staff and the defendant.
29. In the written address of the claimants reference was made to the claimants Identity cards tendered in the course of trial and admitted as exhibits A, CW1A, CW1B, B, C, CW2A, CW2B1-3, CW2C, CW3A, CWA9, CW101-2 and CW1OB, exhibit CW1E, internal memo dated 29/8/2014, which is the document that asked the claimants to immediately proceed on stood off until further directive. At the same time the claimants who were placed on stood off were asked to surrender their respective flats key immediately. The claimants also placed reliance exhibits CW1G and CW1H as entitling the claimants with their claim.
30. It is contended by counsel for the claimants that the defendant’s refusal to pay claimants’ their salaries and other entitlements constitute and amounts to a breach of their contract. The defendant’s by failing to remit the claimants salaries and other entitlements from the year 2011 to 2014 is also in breach of the provisions of the Labour Act.
31. For the counsel for the defendant the only condition of service applicable to the claimants’ employment is their individual letters of employment. Counsel profusely contended that the provisions of exhibits CW11A1-21, exhibit CW11B1-16 and exhibit CW11C1-16, are not applicable to the employment of the claimants and that the defendant is not bound by the said collective agreement as they are not incorporated into the contract of service of the claimants..
32. It is apparent from the facts of this case, the submissions of counsel that the major area of contention is whether the collective agreements tendered by the subpoenaed witness are binding on the defendant and applicable to the employment of the claimants to entitle them to benefit from the provisions of the collective agreements contained therein.
33. The position of the law under the common law has been settled that collective agreements are not legally binding at common law. They are seen as gentlemen’s agreement binding in honour only. See Nigeria Arab Bank Ltd V Shaibu (1991) 4 NWLR (Pt.186) 450, this decision was affirmed by Supreme Court in Shaibu V Nigeria Arab Bank Ltd (1998) 4 SCNJ 109 @ 129; Unless there are statutory provisions making them binding. See section 2 of Trade Dispute Act.
34. A survey of case law on collective agreement will show that incorporation of collective agreement can be express or implied. See The Registered Trustees of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria & Anor. V Dr. Jimmy shogbola (2005) 1 WRN 15 @ 167, Rector Kwara state Polytechnic V Adetilo, its applicability or otherwise to a contract of service will depend on incorporation of the terms of the collective agreement into the personal or individual contract of employment of each of the employee so that in the event of a dispute, the collective agreement will be cited as binding on the parties to the employment. It is only with incorporation that the agreement will become relevant. See The Registered Trustees of Planned Parenthood of Nigeria & Anor v Dr. Jimmy Shogbola (supra),
35. The position of counsel for the defendant that collective agreement must be expressly incorporated into the individual contract of service for it to be effect was made without due regards to cases on the subject. The law is that where there is evidence that both parties have relied on collective agreement; or in one way or the other indicated that it applies, the court is free to give effect to collective agreement where the management has acted on the agreement, the agreement will be binding on parties. See Kwara State Polytechnic (supra), Shuabu V Union Bank of Nig. Plc (1995) 14 NWLR (Pt.388) 17, Nswabosi V ACB ((1995) 6 NWLR (Pt.404) 658.
36. The new trend in the labour jurisprudence, following the enactment of the Third Alteration Act, 2010, which amended the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by vesting this court with exclusive jurisdiction in labour matters, the status and enforceability of collective agreement have undergone a lot of changes aimed at bringing it up to international standard and international best practices. Thus, section 254C(j)(i) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, (as amended) has conferred on this court exclusive jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil causes and matters relating to the determination of any question as to the interpretation and application of a collective agreement. This means regardless of whether or not incorporated into employees’ contract of service, once a claimant can show that he is a member of a signatory trade union to the collective agreement, the said employee or employees would be entitled to benefit from the provisions of the collective agreement in question. See Gbagadesin V Wema Bank Plc (2009) 15 NLLR (Pt.40) 1; PENGASSAN V Schlumberger (2008) 11 NLLR (Pt.29) 164;
37. In the case at hand by virtue of section 254C(j)(i), of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, the claimants who are senior officers would benefit provided they establish that they are members of the trade Union that is signatory to exhibits CW11B1-16 and CW11C1-16. For the junior staff they will be entitled to benefit under exhibit CW11a1-16, unlike the senior staff they are not required to show that they are members, the reason being that as junior staff their membership is automatically deemed. While for the senior staff they must show membership since their membership is by option.
38. The above position is in line with the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention 1949 (No.98), which Nigeria has ratified and which recognizes collective agreements as valid and binding.
39. In view of the above finding the 1st to 7th claimants being senior staff are entitled to take the benefits provided in exhibits CW11B1-16 and exhibit CW11C1-16, if, they prove their membership of the trade union in question. The yardstick for senior staff taking the benefit of a collective agreement has been established by this Court in number cases since the Third Alteration to the 1999 Constitution. In the case of Mrs Bessie Udhedhe Ozughalu & anor v. Bureau Veritas Nigeria Limited unreported Suit No. NICN/LA/626/2014, the judgment of which was delivered on 20th March 2018. In paragraphs 55 to 57, B. B. Kanyip, J, as he then was, now President of the Court) has this to say:-
55. …This Court has in several cases shown what a senior staff…must prove in order to benefit from a collective agreement. It is that he must plead and prove by concrete evidence membership of the trade union in issue; and that the admission of an employer to that effect is not even enough. See Aghata N. Onuorah v. Access Bank Plc  55 NLLR (Pt. 186) 17, Samson Kehinde Akindoyin v. UBN Plc  62 NLLR (Pt. 217) 259, Mr. Valentine Ikechukwu Chiazor v. Union Bank of Nigeria Plc unreported Suit No. NICN/LA/122/2014, the judgment of which was delivered on 12th July 2016, Mr C. E. Okeke & 3 ors v. Union Bank of Nigeria Plc unreported Suit No. NICN/LA/09/2010, the judgment of which was delivered on 26th October 2016 and Mrs Benedicta Uzoamaka Marchie v. Union Bank of Nigeria Plc unreported Suit No. NICN/LA/48/2014, the judgment of which was delivered on 30th March 2017. Incidentally, these case law authorities did away with similar arguments raised by the defendant in the instant case as to a collective agreement being binding in honour only or that it was not incorporated into a contract of employment or that there is no privity between the parties, etc. I need not repeat those points here.
56. A look at the statement of facts and the reply to the statement of defence will show that there is no pleading whatsoever that the deceased was a member of PENGASSAN when he was in the employment of the defendant…
57. …The oral testimony of CW2 is not sufficient proof of the fact of trade union membership of the deceased [where] entitlements are claimed. Like this Court pointed out in the earlier cases I cited, what is required is concrete documentary proof of the membership of the trade union in issue. Even when the employer relies on a collective agreement to confer a benefit on the employee, that act without more cannot confer on an employee membership of the trade union that entered into the collective agreement with the employer. See Mrs Benedicta Uzoamaka Marchie v. Union Bank of Nigeria Plc unreported Suit No. NICN/LA/48/2014, the judgment of which was delivered on 30th March 2017, which further held that an employer cannot confer membership of a trade union on an employee…
40. In the case at hand, the 1st to 7th claimants being senior staff have not pleaded membership of any trade union nor have they adduced any concrete evidence establishing their membership of the Construction and Civil Engineering Senior Staff Association as to claim the benefit of the NJIC agreements they are relying on for their claims. The failure of the 1st to 7th claimants to establish membership of trade union has deprived them of taking benefit of the collective agreements, as it is only members of a trade union that can benefit from collective agreements. The requirement for establishing being membership of a trade union stems out of the facts that senior Staff can only become members of a trade union, if they opted to be members. Unlike junior staff who are by virtue of the provisions of the trade Unions Act, deemed to be members of trade union unionizing staff of the organization they are working with. See Nsude V Sewen
41. The 1st to 7th defendants’ claims based on exhibits CW11B1-16 and CW11C1-16, could not be granted due to failure of claimants to show that they are members of the trade union in question.
42. Even if the conclusion I arrived at above is faulty, the 1st to 7th claimants are still not entitled to the reliefs sought based on exhibits CW11B1-16 and exhibit CW11C1-16. The reason being that their claims are that of special damages that require strict proof. There is nothing in the evidence of the 1st to 7th claimant establishing their various claims. The claimants have proved what the amount they are entitled to is and what they were paid by the defendants which were less what they are entitled to. They have also not adduced evidence on the difference between what they are entitled to and what they were paid that was not up to what they were supposed to be paid. The 1st to 7th claimants have failed to prove entitlement to the sums they are claiming under collective agreement.
43. For the 8th to 10th claimants, they tendered exhibits CW7B, CW7C, CW7D, CW8B1-4, CW9B1-3, which are some of their pay slips. Exhibits CW7E and CW8C, which were the compilation of entitlement done by the 8th and 9th claimants.
44. The claimants being junior staff are entitled to benefit from collective agreement without proof of membership of trade union. But, for the claims to be granted the claimants must prove the quantum of what they are claiming by concrete compelling evidence. Tendering some pay slips is not enough evidence to establish entitlement to grant of the claims. The compilation of entitlement or what is being claimed is also no proof of the entitlement to the claims. The claimants’ have a duty to prove the quantum of what they are entitled to, then prove what they have been and then established what was the difference between what they are entitled to and what was paid and the amount yet unpaid. This is because the claim is for special damages which by law must be proved strictly with concrete evidence and not oral evidence. The claimants have not shown to the court what they have been paid for the period of claim and what they were supposed to have been paid. See NNPC V Cliffo (supra). In the circumstance there is no way the court will know all that without evidence to that effect. The need for claimant to established their claim was made more imperative with their averment to the effect that their salaries were not fixed and that they fluctuate.
45. Though the claimants have not been able to prove the quantum of their claims. The court is free to award whatever quantum that is established in so far as is not more than what was claimed, but lesser than the claim before the court. It is the law that where a party claims a particular amount but was only able to prove less, the court of law has the power to award the lesser amount proved but not more than the party has claimed. Thus, a party is entitled to judgment for any part of his claim he is able to establish to the satisfaction of the court, even though the reduced sum was not expressly claimed and consequently not pleaded. See Okoebor v. Eyobo Engineering Services (Nig.) Ltd.(1991)4 NWLR (Pt.187) 553; Ekpenyong v. Nyong (1975) 2 S.C. 71; Anyaebosi v. R.T. Briscoe Nig. Ltd. (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt.59) 84; F.B.N. Pic. v. Oniyangi (2000) 6 NWLR (Pt.661) 477; trial court can award less but not more than what was claimed by a plaintiff. See Ativie V Kabelmetal Ltd (2008) LPELR.
46. The defendant has argued that the claimants’ case is at variance with their contract of service. Thus, the outstanding payments were less than what was claimed. The amount of money the claimants are entitled to, according to the defendant is as contained in paragraphs 13, 26, 40, 53, 67, 195, 110, 126 and 142, of the statement of defence. These averments are clear admission by the defendant that the claimants have unpaid salaries and other entitlement. According to the defendant the claimants entitlement is as stated in the paragraphs of the defence referred to. The law is settled that what was admitted requires no proof. For admitted need not be proved. Accordingly, where facts are admitted, there is no need to adduce evidence on them. See Our Line v. S.C.C. (Nig.) Ltd. (2009) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1170) 382; Jolasun v. Bamgboye (2010) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1225) 285; Offor v. State (2012) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1333) 421; Al-Hassan v. Ishaku (2016) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1520) 230; Jitte v. Okpulor (2016) 2 NWLR (Pt. 1497) 542; Cole v. Jibunoh (2016) 4 NWLR (Pt. 1503) 499; Orianezi v. A.-G., Rivers State (2017) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1561) 224; Mba v. Mba (2018) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1641) 177; Adeokin Records v. M.C.S.N (Ltd/GTE) (2018) 15.
47. Having found that the defendant has admitted lesser amount as claims of the claimants. I hereby grant the claimants’ claims as per the admission contained in paragraphs 13, 26, 40, 53, 67, 195, 110, 126 and 142, of the statement of defence.
48. On the claim for one moth salary in lieu of notice, the defendant has profusely argued that the claimants are not entitled to this relief, because their contract of service is still intact has not been terminated by the defendant. That the claimants if they want to end the relationship they can do so in line with their contract of service.
49. The defendant has admitted directing the claimants to proceed to stood off. This means that the defendant by this directive has barred the claimant from office. On the same 29/8/2015, when claimants were asked to proceed to stood off, the claimants were asked to vacate the accommodation provided to them by the defendant.
50. The defendant has also claimed that the directive on stood off was after oral agreement with the claimants, so as to save the relationship between the claimants and the defendants. I find it difficult to come to terms with the defendant on this reasoning. How can you stopped employee from work stopped his salaries and other entitlement and asked him to vacate accommodation provided to him and claimed to be saving his employment.
51. The content of exhibit CWG and CWH are very clear and unambiguous, there is nothing therein that indicates that the claimants have any oral agreement with the claimants on stood off, I agree with the claimants there was no such oral agreement.
52. From the facts as revealed it is clear to me that the intention of the defendant by asking claimants to proceed on stood off and giving them notice to vacate the official accommodation provided to them by the defendant, all goes to show that the defendant has no intention to continue with the contractual relationship. This means the defendant by implication has terminated the claimants’ employment without giving them the requisite notice of one month as stipulated in the contract of service i.e their letters of employment. I consider the action of the defendant in directing the claimant to proceed on compulsory stood off as vindictive aimed at denying the claimants of their entitlement as provided for under the contract of employment. It is also an indirect way of telling the claimants that their services are no longer required by the defendant.
53. It is clear to me that the defendant decided to adopt this crude unrecognized method to end the claimants’ contract of service with it. Otherwise, how one could explain the unholy means o end or terminate the claimants employment with the defendant. To me the defendant did what it did to avoid payment of salary in lieu of notice. This court will not condone such.
54. By the provisions of the various letters of employment the claimants having been confirmed staff are entitled to be given notice of one month before the relationship can be ended. Where notice was not given payment in lieu of notice must be pad. The defendant by ordering stood off did not pay claimants their one month salary in lieu of notice. In view of this finding I have no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that the claimants’ are entitled to payment of one month salary in lieu of notice.
55. The way and manner in which the defendant treated the claimants is highly detestable. It amount to unfair labour practices. I so hold.
56. The claimants have not adduced evidence in proof of damages the relief failed is hereby refused.
57. From the foregoing findings, the orders of the court are as follows:-
a. The claimants are entitled to be paid the various sums of money which the defendant admitted as what the claimants are entitled to as per paragraphs 13, 26, 40, 53, 67, 195, 110, 126 and 142, of the statement of defence.
b. The defendant shall pay to each of the claimants the amount of money stated to be entitled to as per paragraphs 13, 26, 40, 53, 67, 195, 110, 126 and 142, of the statement of defence.
c. The claimants are entitled to payment of one month salary in lieu of notice of termination of appointment.
d. The defendant is hereby ordered to pay to each of the claimants one month basic salary in lieu of notice.
e. The defendants shall pay to each of the claimants cost in the sum of N200,000.00 (Two Hundred Thousand Naira).
f. All monetary sums payable by this judgment shall be paid within 30 days, failing which 10% interest shall apply per annum.
58. Judgment entered accordingly.
P. E. Ossai, Esq; (Mrs.), for the claimants appearing with, Akin Olagunju, Esq;
B. B. Lawal, Esq; for the defendant appearing with, H. K. Salami, Esq; (Miss).