Law News

Unlawful dismissal: Court orders oil firm to file processes within 14 days

By Ameh Ejekwonyilo

The Court of Appeal Division in Abuja has ordered an oil firm, Total E & P Nigeria Limited, to file its notice of appeal within 14 days at the National Industrial Court, Abuja over the sack of its employees.

Justice E. N. Agbakoba of the National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja had Total E & P Nigeria Limited to pay its sacked personnel over unlawful termination of their employment.

The claimant, Mr. Felix Adariku, suing for and on behalf of all service contract personnel numbering 257, dragged Total E & P Nigeria Limited (1st defendant) and five others before the court over the illegal sack by the defendants.

Delivering judgement on the matter, the presiding judge, Justice Agbakoba had held that the short payment of remuneration and nonpayment of allowances and bonuses to the claimants in accordance with the Local Technical Assistance Services Grid of Rates for 2013 and the conditions of service for contract service personnel 2013, was gross violation and breach of the terms of employment relationship between the claimants and Total E & P Nigeria Limited.

Justice Agbakoba described the action of the defendants as an “unfair labour practice, contrary to global best labour practices and international labour standards.”

Furthermore, the court held that the failure of the 1st defendant to issue the claimants a written statement containing the particulars of their employment within 3 months of resumption of their employment is unlawful and unfair labour practice, contrary to global labour practices and international labour standards.

The equally declared that the 1st defendant is the employer of the claimants whom the former earlier contended that it was not responsible for the claimants employment.

However, dissatisfied with the National Industrial Court of Nigeria’s verdict, the defendants approached the Court of Appeal Division in Abuja, urging it to nullify the lower court’s judgement.

According to Total E & P Nigeria Limited, the presiding judge erred in law when he held that the claimants were lawfully engaged by the appellants.

In a notice of appeal sited by our correspondent, the appellants contended that the claimants (respondents), were not their employees, and therefore, are not entitled to any payment of three months salary in lieu of sack notice.

However, when the suit came up on Tuesday, a three-member panel of the appellate court presided over by Justice Abdul Aboki, ordered the appellant to file their notice of appeal within 14 days. Counsel to the sacked workers who are respondents in the appeal, Mr. Marx Ikongbeh did not oppose the application of the appellant to file their notice of appeal out of the time allowed by law.

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