Justice Mustapha Tijjani of the Lagos Judicial division of the National Industrial Court has ordered International Co-Operation Industries limited to pay Mr. Sunday Archibong his salary and entitlements at the rate of N40, 600.00 per month from the date he was unlawfully suspended December 24th, 2016 till date, with the sum of N50,000.00 cost of action within 30 days.
The Court held that suspension is neither a termination of the contract of employment nor a dismissal of the employee, declared that Mr. Sunday Archibong employment still subsists in the firm and entitled to be paid his salaries/wages and all other entitlements until his appointment is lawfully terminated.
From facts, the claimant’s – Sunday Archibong had submitted that he was employed by the firm as an Electrical Officer in 2004 that the Defendant orally placed him on indefinite suspension on the 24th of December 2016, following an incident that took place the previous day relating to the breakdown of the generating set, that he has not been paid salary till date.
In defence, the company maintained that the Claimant was placed on suspension for only one week, that it was the Claimant that dismissed himself by failing to resume work at the expiration of the one week, Counterclaimed for the sum of N8,000,000.00 cost of fixing and repairing the generator which got damaged due to the claimant’s negligence, and the sum of N250,000.00 cost of the action with the sum of N1,000,000.00 as damages for the losses and inconveniences suffered.
The firm Counsel Olubukola Fadahunsi Esq had argued that it was not included in terms of the contract that the Claimant is at liberty to abscond from work and still be entitled to a salary, urged the court to dismiss the case.
Counsel for the claimant E. I Emmanuel Esq argued that the Claimant has neither been recalled from suspension nor has his employment with the Defendant been terminated, urged the court to hold that the Claimant’s employment with the defendant still subsists.
Delivering the Judgment, the trial Judge, Hon. Justice Mustapha Tijjani held that that in the absence of any documentary evidence to ascertain the duration of the suspension, that the Court is left with no option but to subject the parties ipse dexit alongside the correspondences between them to the test of probability.
“If it was true that the Claimant’s suspension was only for one week it behoves on the Defendant to respond to the Claimant’s request as further stated in Exhibit CWE. Placing the above stories on the imaginary scale of justice, I am inclined to believe with the Claimant’s contention that the suspension was indefinite, I find and I so hold.
“In the instant case there is nothing placed before this Court by the Defendant to show that the agreement between the parties provides for the power of the Defendant to suspend the Claimant and in view of the settled principle of law that a person unlawfully suspended from work can seek redress in Court and claim his full salary, I find that reliefs 1 and 2 are grantable and I so hold.”