Industrial Court Dismisses N41 Million Entitlements claim Against FG

Abuja—Hon. Justice K. D. Damulak of the National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed the case of N22 Million Naira emolument claim and N19 Million Naira Gabon Judgment sum filed by Mr. Paul Joseph against the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Attorney General for lacking merit.

Justice Damulak held that the Court is prohibited from entertaining any proceedings for the recovery of any sum alleged to be payable under a judgment given in a foreign Court where the said judgment cannot be and has not been first registered in Nigeria.

The claimant commenced on 26th day of November 2018 and sought for AN ORDER directing the Defendant to pay the claimant all his emolument to the tune of Twenty two million, three hundred and seventeen Thousand, Naira and One Hundred and Twenty Kobo (N22,317,120.00) as a result of the termination of his employment following the incapacity of injury sustained in the course of his employment and the sum of Nineteen Million, Five Hundred and Sixty Three Thousand, Six Hundred and Seventeen Kobo (N19,563,617) or (3,105,336F CFA) awarded to the claimant in Libreville Gabon against the defendant as damages to the claimant in the course of that wrongful termination of the claimant’s employment among others.

The claimant was employed by the Nigeria Embassy in Gabon in 1996, he was handed a mowing machine to work for the defendant to cut grass and the machine injured the claimant on his eye.

He was sent to Kaduna for treatment and on return he was handed a termination letter.

He sued the embassy for wrongful termination in Libreville and judgment was in his favour awarding 3,105,336f (CFA) to him which the embassy has not paid.

The defendants (Fed. Republic of Nigeria and Attorney General of Nigeria) witness submitted that the claimant employment was terminated on disciplinary grounds not on a faulty machine, that nothing in the condition of service requires the claimant to be heard before his appointment can be terminated on disciplinary grounds.

Counsel also submitted that claimant having admitted that the Defendant’s agent was not responsible for the injury to his eye cannot be entitled to the general damages.

In conclusion, counsel contended that the suit is incompetent as it is statute barred by virtue of the Public Officer’s Protection Act (POPA) that the matter was filed after 17 years of action urged that the matter be struck out.

Counsel submitted that claimant exhibited a judgment in a Gabonese High Court written in French which he claimed was a judgment in his favour against the defendants but stated under cross-examination that this instant case is of the same fact of the Gabonese case where he obtained judgment, that the claimant is estopped from further re-litigating the same matter before this court.

In reply, Counsel submitted that claimant is not asking for monthly but general damages for compensation for the remaining part of his lifetime of about 50 years, argued that the defendants did not plead the facts of estoppel per res judicata, neither did they specifically plead same in their statement of defense and as such cannot rely on same.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Kiyersohot Damulak held that the Public Officers Protection Act does not apply to the claimant’s case.

On the claim for N22,317,120 being the full emolument of the claimant, the court held that no evidence establishing the said amount for whatever period, that it was simply hinged upon the said wrongful termination.

“Under cross examination, the claimant admitted that the judgment of the Libreville Court was on the same complaint of wrongful termination before this Court. The claimant’s reliefs (a) to (e) in general, the statement of facts and evidence of claimant gives credence to this fact. There is, therefore, no gainsaying the fact that this suit seeks to enforce the judgment of the Libreville Court delivered in 2006.

“There appears to be no justification for these claims separately in addition to the claim for the sum awarded by the Libreville Court. However, since there is no evidence supporting them, they are deemed abandoned.

“However, in this case, the judgment was not registered within 12 months nor was there any application for extension of time to do so. Indeed, there was no attempt at registration.

Lastly, Justice Damulak held that the Court is prohibited from entertaining any proceedings for the recovery of any sum alleged to be payable under a judgment given in a Libreville Court where the said judgment cannot be and has not been first registered.

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