The Presiding Judge, Makurdi Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court, His Lordship, Hon. Justice Salisu Danjidda has ordered Etche Local Government Council to pay its former supervisory councillor, Hon. Emeka Mbonu the sum of N4,855,800.00 as severance/gratuity and furniture allowance within 30 days.
However, Justice Danjidda dismissed Hon. Emeka’s claim for arrears of salaries from June 2009 to March 2011 with interest for lack of evidence.
From facts, the Claimant’s- Hon. Emeka Mbonu had stated that he was appointed as Council Supervisor on 7th August 2008 that there was a shortage in the payment of his monthly salaries which he complained to the Council but nothing was done until his tenure lapsed in 2011. The Claimant felt aggrieved and asked the court for payment of his salaries, allowances and entitlements from August 2008 to May 2009 and from June 2009 to March 2011.
In defence, the Council postulated that Emeka’s appointment as Council Supervisor was terminated in May 2009 hence not entitled to any allowances or entitlements after May 2009 that what the Claimant is claiming as the shortage in his monthly salary from 2008 to 2009 is the statutory tax deductions.
In his contention, Council Counsel N.C. Okonkwo Esq opined as an afterthought on the part of the Claimant who wants to take advantage of the fact that he refused to collect his letter of termination and want to benefit from it by laying claims to salaries and allowances he never worked for, urged the court to hold so.
Counsel contended that the only debt the Council is owing the Claimant is furniture allowance of N2,427,900.00.
Claimant counsel Nwala I.A. Esq submitted that claimant has shown that his entitlements under the fringe benefits law were not paid to him all through his appointment from 2009 to 2011 and he was underpaid from August 2008 to 2009. Counsel argued that the Council acknowledged and promised to pay the debts but never paid even upon several demand letters urged the Court to grant the reliefs sought.
Delivering Judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Salisu Danjidda held that the Claimant did not deem it fit to present the bank statement for the whole period of August 2008 to March 2011 to show how the deductions were made.
“In as much as there is no evidence of service of exhibit ELG01 (the purported letter of termination), the Claimant did not as much lead evidence to support his claim that he continued to work as a Supervisor beyond May 29, 2009.
“To prove entitlements, an employee must refer the court to the exact Law, instrument or document. And a claim for entitlements of salary or allowances is a claim for special damages which must be specifically pleaded and strictly proved with compelling evidence.
“From the foregoing, therefore, this court is bound by the established principles of law as regards the requirement of proof in civil matters especially for monetary claims, judicial decisions of superior courts and evidence presented. I, therefore, find that the Claimant has tilted the balance of probability in his favour only as regards his severance/gratuity and furniture allowances.”