June 9, 2023

Industrial Court Dismisses N3.6m Terminal Benefit Claim against Firm

The Presiding Judge, Calabar Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, Hon. Justice Sanusi Kado has dismissed N3.6m terminal entitlement claims by Mr. Godwin Ofem and 4 others, suing for themselves and other 25 workers against Earth Summit Limited for lacking merit.

The Court held that the exhibits tendered by Mr. Godwin Ofem and 4 others are incapable of proving the claim sought due to lack of evidential value.

Justice Kado held that Mr. Godwin Ofem and others did not specifically state the sums for the various heads of terminal benefits being claimed, and no witness was called to give evidence on exhibit tendered and the purported payment voucher attached was not signed which in the eyes of the law has no probative value and is void.

The Court further stressed that for a party to be awarded any relief by a court of law, that party must not only plead with particularity but also prove by credible and convincing evidence that a Court of law is not a Father Christmas.

From facts, the claimants- Mr. Godwin Ofem and 4 others had instituted the matter for themselves and on behalf of 25 other former staff of the Earth Summit Nigeria Ltd and averred that they worked for the firm as security staff until they were laid off on 6th April 2017. 

They also stated that they were deployed to guard the facilities of another firm in Calabar, and all efforts to get their entitlements proved abortive, sought for an order for the payment of N3,668,460.00 (Three Million Six Hundred and Sixty-Eight Thousand Four Hundred and Sixty Naira) being their terminal benefit, N5m as damages and N200k cost of litigation. 

However, the defendant- Earth Summit Ltd refused to file a defense after the dismissal of the preliminary objection filed challenging the jurisdiction of the court for lacking merit.

Delivering the judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Sanusi Kado held that the claim of Mr. Godwin Ofem and 4 others for special damages must be claimed specifically and proved strictly and the fact that it appears to be admitted does not relieve the party claiming it of the requirement of proof with compelling evidence.

Justice Kado said the proof of entitlement is often by reference to an instrument or document that grants it, that the exhibits tendered by Mr. Godwin Ofem and 4 others are incapable of proving the claim sought due to lack of evidential value.

The Court further stressed that the claimants did not also help matters by lumping the various heads of claims which clearly shows the uncertainty and vagueness of the claim of the claimants as the sum of N3,668,460.00 being sought as their terminal benefits is with no particularization.

“Exhibit C12 is a document prepared by one of the claimants. The document is in form of a table titled details of claimants entitlements for March 2017, prorated salary for 6 days (1st – 6th April 2017), medical allowance for 1st quarter 2017, and arrears deducted pension, but not remitted (August 2014 – March 2017). 

“Exhibit C12, cannot be proof of any claim, all that the exhibit shows is that the claimants have claim against the defendant, but not proof of any claim. To make matters worse, exhibit C12 is undated, this has rendered it not having any evidential value.” The Court ruled.

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