Sun. Aug 1st, 2021

Engineer Wants Vita Construction Ltd, Other Investigate, Prosecute Of Alleged Tax, Pension Fraud

Engineer Wants Vita Construction Ltd, Other Investigate, Prosecute Of Alleged Tax, Pension Fraud

An engineer of Civil and Structural engineering, Oladele Taju Kuyoro, has accused Vita Construction Limited and it’s sister company, Viras Limited of alleged tax and pension fraud, claiming that all the monies deducted from his monthly emoluments as taxes and pensions for 16 years he worked with the two firms, were not remitted to the appropriate agencies. 

He also accused the two companies of job scam, where they make workers to work for both companies, with the promise the workers will be paid differently by each of the companies, but only ended up paying a ‘single salary’ for the services rendered to the companies.

He is consequently seeking for an order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) referring all issues of unpaid pensions and taxes, to the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) and the Lagos State Attorney General, for criminal investigation and prosecution bothering on pension fraud and tax evasion.

Engineer Oladele also asked the court for a declaration that his employment having not been terminated in a manner recognized by law, he is still remains an employee of the defendants till date and is entitled to all emoluments due to him by reason of the employment.

He also want the court to make an order nullifying and or setting aside the Vita Construction Limited’s letter dated October 3, 2018 for being oppressive, wrongful, malicious, unlawful, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

He further asked the court for an order entering Judgment in the sum of  of N321, 318, 097. 80 million, against the two companies, representing his renumeration for services rendered to them from March 2002 to December, 2011 and for the month of June, 2017; his 7.5% pension funds, from March 2002 to June 2014; and 10% pension fund for from July 2014 till October 2018 inclusive of underpayment pension contribution that occurred from May 2012 till June 2015; his NET renumeration from November, 2018 until the determination of this case; his Christmas bonus for the year 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; his weekly allowance covering telephone bills, personal travel allowance and subsidy from November, 2018; as specific damages for psychological pain, embarrassment, inconvenience, discomfort, and emotional stress and or trauma  or howsoever called as a result of the defendants’ oppressive, unfair and illegal act of rendering him redundant without pay after 16 years of hard labour and Solicitor’s fees.

The engineer sought above orders and declarations, in the processes filed before the court against Vita Construction Limited and Viras Limited, before the Lagos division of NICN, for wrongful and unlawful termination of his appointment by the two companies.

Oladele in his suit numbered NICN/LA/541/2020, filed before the court through his lawyer, Olamide Balogun, also  accused the two companies of reneged on their contractual agreement of paying him of his salaries and other benefits differently.

The Claimant, in his contract of Employment with the two firms, stated that by a publication placed in the Dailies sometimes in 2001, Vita Construction Limited (first defendant) called for applications from members of the public to fill the position of Civil/Structural Engineer, which he applied for and that the first defendant via a letter dated September 17, 2001 invited him for a preliminary interview. But to his total dismay, it was the the second defendant (Viras Limited) by a letter dated March 11, 2002 titled “Offer Of Appointment”, (letter of appointment), offered him an employment as a Site Engineer. And that by the terms of the offer letter, he was obligated to commence work on March 18, 2002. Adding that in terms of the said letter of appointment, he is entitled to be paid Housing, Transport, Medical, Utilities allowances and other allied emoluments including the statutory pension funds and other benefits, which includes 1.5 monthly salary leave/Christmas bonus payable at December of every year.

The claimant stated that upon a careful perusal of the letter of appointment especially the clause reproduced in paragraph 17 supra, he became apprehensive as the clause appears onerous and oppressive and as a result of this, he was very reluctant in accepting the offer. In fact, he opted to decline same until he was convinced by one Mr. Johnson Ighofese, the Head of Human Resources of Viras Limited, to accept the offer same stating that where an employee has been transferred to work in associated companies or made to act in dual capacity, it is the attitude of the company to adequately remunerate such employee. 

He stated further that at the time of his employment, he was oblivious of the rationale of being offered employment by the second defendant, as opposed to the first defendant to whom he applied and by whom he was interviewed. And that he was also unaware of the fact that the clause reproduced above was deliberately inputted into the letter of appointment to justify and facilitate the already premeditated exploitation of the two defendants. Adding that he was completely in the dark and oblivious of the fact that, the two defendants had set-out at the onset to exploit him.

He averred that upon resumption at work as agreed, he started as an employee of the second defendant and the second defendant and he was compelled to work for the two firms, but while being paid a single emolument by the second defendant which paid him from 2002 till 2012, , and the first defendant, Vita Construction Limited, paid him no dime at this time. He added that as a result of the misrepresentation and deception foisted on him, he lodged a complaint at the 2nd Defendant’s Human Resources Department vide a letter dated the 30th of September, 2002. The Human Resources Department however refused to acknowledge the said letter. But in response to his complaint, second Defendant Human Resources’ officers assured him that his total emolument for services rendered to the first defendant will be paid to him “in due time”. And in a bid to convince him and put his mind at rest which was already agitated, the second defendant further explained to him that this dynamics was deliberately put in place by the second defendant for the betterment of its employees, and in particular, for them to have sufficient income to augment the meager salaries they are being paid. 

He states further that since the phrase “in due time” amounts to no time, and given the fact that this bit was kept away from him from the onset, he was not comfortable with the assurances made to him by the second defendant’s Head of Human Resources and opted to know when exactly his emolument for the services being rendered to the first defendant will be due for payment, he then again lodged another complaint to the Defendants vide a letter dated the 1st of December, 2005 which as usual the Defendants again refused to acknowledge. 

He averred that when it was cleared to second defendant’s officers that he was not going to take an indefinite time for an answer, the second defendant again assured him that they were putting figures together and also assured him that the longer he worked for both firms the better for him, because the Claimant would have managed to save up reasonable amount of money with the Defendants, such that would be paid in bulk. He added that when he did not receive any notification from the Defendants for several years and following the fact that the second defendant had retained a new Head of Human resources, he again lodged another complaint to the two firm vide a letter dated October 1, 2009, which was delivered on October 2, 2009 which they refused to acknowledge, but the second defendant however, promised to resolve all issues surrounding his employment and particularly the issue of renumeration being withheld by the first defendant (Vita Construction Limited). 

The claimant averred that by January, 2012, the second defendant which had been paying him since 2002, when he was employed suddenly stopped paying his renumeration and the first defendant paid him for the first time since he started to render services to both defendants. He stated that with this development, he was comforted and of the impression that the first defendant would soon resolve all issues pertaining to all his renumeration that is being withheld by the first defendant. And that upon realizing that nothing had changed and that the second defendant has completely stopped paying him in a manner designed to confuse him, he lodged another complaint to the two firm vide a letter dated August 31, 2012, wherein he informed them that if by November 30, 2012, all his renumeration and other entitlement are not fully paid, he shall be constrained to tender his resignation from their employment. 

He stated that immediately the defendants received the letter, the second defendant in a letter dated October 2, 2012 informed him that he had been selected as one of the recipients of the 2012 Long Service Award, and accordingly invited him to a ceremony slated for Saturday, December 15, 2012 at the second defendant’s main office, admitting the dedicated services rendered to the first defendant, and recognizing his hard work, industry and prowess, the Managing Director of the first defendant presented him with a Ten (10) year long service certificate award at the ceremony, even though, the certificate of award was dated September 21, 2012. And that the first defendant further assured him that the issues surrounding his entitlement would be resolved in the coming weeks and persuaded him on the need to remain in the employ of the defendants.

He averred that while he ceaselessly continued to work for both the first and second defendants without corresponding pay, Surprisingly, he was served with the first defendant’s letter dated November 19, 2012 informing him that in line with the requirement of year 2011 NJIC, his final entitlement from the date of his employment to the 31st of December 2011 has been calculated and that the amount arrived at as his final entitlement was N567,786.19, which he immediately rejected in the letter dated November 19, 2012 and informed the first defendant that the outstanding renumeration over services rendered to the 1st Defendant from March, 2002 till December 31, 2011 is in the sums exceeding N6,354,646.79 million, and urged the first defendants to harmonize its record.

He claimant stated that in 2015, when the dispute among them were unresolved and that he did not get a conclusive resolution of the issues, he again lodged a complaint with the defendants vide a letter dated November 1, 2015, wherein he informed them that the sum due to him from the first defendant is in the sum of N6,354,646.79 million, whilst the sum of N5,911,913.2 million is due to him from the second defendant for the services rendered from January 2012 to September, 30, 2015.

He avers that the fist defendant refused to pay the sums due in spite of repeated demands. As if that was not enough, the first defendant in May 2018 unlawfully deducted his salary. He claimed that his total monthly emolument at the time was in the sum of N175,731.55 whilst his net pay after deductions of tax and pension contribution should be N155,239.85. However, the first defendant for no just cause paid him the sum of N132,255.00 which translated into a deduction of a whopping sum of N22,984.85, he  immediately contested this unlawful deduction and demanded an explanation for same. Strangely the sum was paid into the Claimant’s account in November, 2018.

He stated that whilst awaiting the first Defendant to retrace its step to liquidate all sums already due to him and awaiting liquidation, it again towed the path of dishonor as it in response to his several demands, suspended him for a month without pay. And that by the import of the said letter dated June 2, 2017, the first defendant unconscientiously alleged that on June 1, 2017 on site P697 which was directly under his control as a senior management staff, workers were allegedly found roaming about on the site. He stated that he again challenged the first Defendant for his unlawful suspension and when the first defendant discovered that it was unlikely that he would give in for all the oppressions emanating from it, the suspension was consequently reversed  vide a letter dated June 6, 2017. But in a bid to formalize the unlawful deduction it started in May 2018, the first Defendant in June 2018 unlawfully reduced his monthly emolument to the sum of N150,479.89 as opposed to the sum of N175,731.55. Upon receiving the pay slip for the month, he immediately lodged a complaint at the first defendant’s Human Resources Department who promised to rectify same and revert to him.

He stated that his legitimate demand surprisingly instigated the first defendant to issue a letter dated October 3, 2018 which was titled “Stood Off Staff”. And that the first defendant vide the said letter dated October 3, 2018 (hereinafter referred to as termination letter) adjudged and or declared him redundant without any lawful justification in the following terms: “this is to inform you that due to current realities in the industry and lack of contract/job you have been placed on stood off effect from October 3, 2018.Note that for the short period that you will be on stood off you will not be paid.You are advice to drop your telephone contact with admin department so they can reach you as the situation improves”.

He stated that the defendants were aware that by his employment letter dated March 11, 2002, he was restrained from engaging in any other employment, business or trade during the subsistence of his employment with the defendants. And they were also aware that the letter dated October 3, 2018 is not a letter sought to terminate his employment in anyway. However, refused to pay him who is a family man and a loving father of three children. 

He averred that in a bid to give effect to the said termination letter, the first defendant immediately and disgracefully debarred him from entering its compound and in fact authorized its officers to arrest him if he was seen near the defendants’ facilities. This standing instruction was put in place to dissuade him from claiming his various entitlements trapped in their hands.

He stated that as a result of the “stood off”, he could not meet his contractual and family obligations. And that he, who is the breadwinner of his family could not provide the basic necessities for his family to the extent that he and the members of his family were ejected out of their rented apartment on August 22, 2019, by reason of his financial difficulties in paying his house rent and other utility bills. And that his family were ejected from his rented apartment located at Block 152, Ojokoro Housing Estate, Meiran, Lagos State, due to his failure to meet his due obligations regarding the apartment. He has had to relocate to his home town in Ijebu-ode, and his children out of school due to his financial incapability

He also averred that due to the turbulence and troubles attendant to the unlawful stood off, he suffered psychological pain, emotional breakdown and became traumatized, distressed, sick and has eventually been diagnosed of serious illnesses amongst which is Hypertension which he is currently battling with. As a result of these health challenges, he had had to pay medical bills exceeding N40 million, through the help of well-wishers and other extended family for diagnoses and treatments.

On alleged particulars of Pension Fraud, the claimant stated that following his severe financial constraint, he sent a letter dated December 20, 2019, through an electronic mail to Premium Pension Limited, his pension managers to avail him his pension statement of account with PIN: PEN100689831323, to determine how much he could salvage from his pension account in order to pay his medical bills and to put his children back in school. But to his greatest shock, he discovered that the both defendants have never remitted his pension (both Employer and Employee contributions) despite that same were always deducted from his renumeration for the 16 years he worked with the two companies.

The claimant also averred that the two companies deducted income and other state taxes from his renumeration throughout his employment with the Defendants, from 2002 till date and the Defendants have failed and refused to remit the deducted taxes to the appropriate authorities.

He consequently said unless the court urgently intervene and granted the declarations and orders sought for, the first and second defendants will not ameliorate the damage they have occasioned him by their unlawful and oppressive declaration that rendered him redundant and without pay since 2018 till date in addition to the trade restraint. 

The two companies, Vita Construction Limited and Viras Limited, are yet to file their responses, despite been served. And no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

An engineer of Civil and Structural engineering, Oladele Taju Kuyoro, has accused Vita Construction Limited and it’s sister company, Viras Limited of alleged tax and pension fraud, claiming that all the monies deducted from his monthly emoluments as taxes and pensions for 16 years he worked with the two firms, were not remitted to the appropriate agencies. 

He also accused the two companies of job scam, where they make workers to work for both companies, with the promise the workers will be paid differently by each of the companies, but only ended up paying a ‘single salary’ for the services rendered to the companies.

He is consequently seeking for an order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) referring all issues of unpaid pensions and taxes, to the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) and the Lagos State Attorney General, for criminal investigation and prosecution bothering on pension fraud and tax evasion.

Engineer Oladele also asked the court for a declaration that his employment having not been terminated in a manner recognized by law, he is still remains an employee of the defendants till date and is entitled to all emoluments due to him by reason of the employment.

He also want the court to make an order nullifying and or setting aside the Vita Construction Limited’s letter dated October 3, 2018 for being oppressive, wrongful, malicious, unlawful, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

He further asked the court for an order entering Judgment in the sum of  of N321, 318, 097. 80 million, against the two companies, representing his renumeration for services rendered to them from March 2002 to December, 2011 and for the month of June, 2017; his 7.5% pension funds, from March 2002 to June 2014; and 10% pension fund for from July 2014 till October 2018 inclusive of underpayment pension contribution that occurred from May 2012 till June 2015; his NET renumeration from November, 2018 until the determination of this case; his Christmas bonus for the year 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; his weekly allowance covering telephone bills, personal travel allowance and subsidy from November, 2018; as specific damages for psychological pain, embarrassment, inconvenience, discomfort, and emotional stress and or trauma  or howsoever called as a result of the defendants’ oppressive, unfair and illegal act of rendering him redundant without pay after 16 years of hard labour and Solicitor’s fees.

The engineer sought above orders and declarations, in the processes filed before the court against Vita Construction Limited and Viras Limited, before the Lagos division of NICN, for wrongful and unlawful termination of his appointment by the two companies.

Oladele in his suit numbered NICN/LA/541/2020, filed before the court through his lawyer, Olamide Balogun, also  accused the two companies of reneged on their contractual agreement of paying him of his salaries and other benefits differently.

The Claimant, in his contract of Employment with the two firms, stated that by a publication placed in the Dailies sometimes in 2001, Vita Construction Limited (first defendant) called for applications from members of the public to fill the position of Civil/Structural Engineer, which he applied for and that the first defendant via a letter dated September 17, 2001 invited him for a preliminary interview. But to his total dismay, it was the the second defendant (Viras Limited) by a letter dated March 11, 2002 titled “Offer Of Appointment”, (letter of appointment), offered him an employment as a Site Engineer. And that by the terms of the offer letter, he was obligated to commence work on March 18, 2002. Adding that in terms of the said letter of appointment, he is entitled to be paid Housing, Transport, Medical, Utilities allowances and other allied emoluments including the statutory pension funds and other benefits, which includes 1.5 monthly salary leave/Christmas bonus payable at December of every year.

The claimant stated that upon a careful perusal of the letter of appointment especially the clause reproduced in paragraph 17 supra, he became apprehensive as the clause appears onerous and oppressive and as a result of this, he was very reluctant in accepting the offer. In fact, he opted to decline same until he was convinced by one Mr. Johnson Ighofese, the Head of Human Resources of Viras Limited, to accept the offer same stating that where an employee has been transferred to work in associated companies or made to act in dual capacity, it is the attitude of the company to adequately remunerate such employee. 

He stated further that at the time of his employment, he was oblivious of the rationale of being offered employment by the second defendant, as opposed to the first defendant to whom he applied and by whom he was interviewed. And that he was also unaware of the fact that the clause reproduced above was deliberately inputted into the letter of appointment to justify and facilitate the already premeditated exploitation of the two defendants. Adding that he was completely in the dark and oblivious of the fact that, the two defendants had set-out at the onset to exploit him.

He averred that upon resumption at work as agreed, he started as an employee of the second defendant and the second defendant and he was compelled to work for the two firms, but while being paid a single emolument by the second defendant which paid him from 2002 till 2012, , and the first defendant, Vita Construction Limited, paid him no dime at this time. He added that as a result of the misrepresentation and deception foisted on him, he lodged a complaint at the 2nd Defendant’s Human Resources Department vide a letter dated the 30th of September, 2002. The Human Resources Department however refused to acknowledge the said letter. But in response to his complaint, second Defendant Human Resources’ officers assured him that his total emolument for services rendered to the first defendant will be paid to him “in due time”. And in a bid to convince him and put his mind at rest which was already agitated, the second defendant further explained to him that this dynamics was deliberately put in place by the second defendant for the betterment of its employees, and in particular, for them to have sufficient income to augment the meager salaries they are being paid. 

He states further that since the phrase “in due time” amounts to no time, and given the fact that this bit was kept away from him from the onset, he was not comfortable with the assurances made to him by the second defendant’s Head of Human Resources and opted to know when exactly his emolument for the services being rendered to the first defendant will be due for payment, he then again lodged another complaint to the Defendants vide a letter dated the 1st of December, 2005 which as usual the Defendants again refused to acknowledge. 

He averred that when it was cleared to second defendant’s officers that he was not going to take an indefinite time for an answer, the second defendant again assured him that they were putting figures together and also assured him that the longer he worked for both firms the better for him, because the Claimant would have managed to save up reasonable amount of money with the Defendants, such that would be paid in bulk. He added that when he did not receive any notification from the Defendants for several years and following the fact that the second defendant had retained a new Head of Human resources, he again lodged another complaint to the two firm vide a letter dated October 1, 2009, which was delivered on October 2, 2009 which they refused to acknowledge, but the second defendant however, promised to resolve all issues surrounding his employment and particularly the issue of renumeration being withheld by the first defendant (Vita Construction Limited). 

The claimant averred that by January, 2012, the second defendant which had been paying him since 2002, when he was employed suddenly stopped paying his renumeration and the first defendant paid him for the first time since he started to render services to both defendants. He stated that with this development, he was comforted and of the impression that the first defendant would soon resolve all issues pertaining to all his renumeration that is being withheld by the first defendant. And that upon realizing that nothing had changed and that the second defendant has completely stopped paying him in a manner designed to confuse him, he lodged another complaint to the two firm vide a letter dated August 31, 2012, wherein he informed them that if by November 30, 2012, all his renumeration and other entitlement are not fully paid, he shall be constrained to tender his resignation from their employment. 

He stated that immediately the defendants received the letter, the second defendant in a letter dated October 2, 2012 informed him that he had been selected as one of the recipients of the 2012 Long Service Award, and accordingly invited him to a ceremony slated for Saturday, December 15, 2012 at the second defendant’s main office, admitting the dedicated services rendered to the first defendant, and recognizing his hard work, industry and prowess, the Managing Director of the first defendant presented him with a Ten (10) year long service certificate award at the ceremony, even though, the certificate of award was dated September 21, 2012. And that the first defendant further assured him that the issues surrounding his entitlement would be resolved in the coming weeks and persuaded him on the need to remain in the employ of the defendants.

He averred that while he ceaselessly continued to work for both the first and second defendants without corresponding pay, Surprisingly, he was served with the first defendant’s letter dated November 19, 2012 informing him that in line with the requirement of year 2011 NJIC, his final entitlement from the date of his employment to the 31st of December 2011 has been calculated and that the amount arrived at as his final entitlement was N567,786.19, which he immediately rejected in the letter dated November 19, 2012 and informed the first defendant that the outstanding renumeration over services rendered to the 1st Defendant from March, 2002 till December 31, 2011 is in the sums exceeding N6,354,646.79 million, and urged the first defendants to harmonize its record.

He claimant stated that in 2015, when the dispute among them were unresolved and that he did not get a conclusive resolution of the issues, he again lodged a complaint with the defendants vide a letter dated November 1, 2015, wherein he informed them that the sum due to him from the first defendant is in the sum of N6,354,646.79 million, whilst the sum of N5,911,913.2 million is due to him from the second defendant for the services rendered from January 2012 to September, 30, 2015.

He avers that the fist defendant refused to pay the sums due in spite of repeated demands. As if that was not enough, the first defendant in May 2018 unlawfully deducted his salary. He claimed that his total monthly emolument at the time was in the sum of N175,731.55 whilst his net pay after deductions of tax and pension contribution should be N155,239.85. However, the first defendant for no just cause paid him the sum of N132,255.00 which translated into a deduction of a whopping sum of N22,984.85, he  immediately contested this unlawful deduction and demanded an explanation for same. Strangely the sum was paid into the Claimant’s account in November, 2018.

He stated that whilst awaiting the first Defendant to retrace its step to liquidate all sums already due to him and awaiting liquidation, it again towed the path of dishonor as it in response to his several demands, suspended him for a month without pay. And that by the import of the said letter dated June 2, 2017, the first defendant unconscientiously alleged that on June 1, 2017 on site P697 which was directly under his control as a senior management staff, workers were allegedly found roaming about on the site. He stated that he again challenged the first Defendant for his unlawful suspension and when the first defendant discovered that it was unlikely that he would give in for all the oppressions emanating from it, the suspension was consequently reversed  vide a letter dated June 6, 2017. But in a bid to formalize the unlawful deduction it started in May 2018, the first Defendant in June 2018 unlawfully reduced his monthly emolument to the sum of N150,479.89 as opposed to the sum of N175,731.55. Upon receiving the pay slip for the month, he immediately lodged a complaint at the first defendant’s Human Resources Department who promised to rectify same and revert to him.

He stated that his legitimate demand surprisingly instigated the first defendant to issue a letter dated October 3, 2018 which was titled “Stood Off Staff”. And that the first defendant vide the said letter dated October 3, 2018 (hereinafter referred to as termination letter) adjudged and or declared him redundant without any lawful justification in the following terms: “this is to inform you that due to current realities in the industry and lack of contract/job you have been placed on stood off effect from October 3, 2018.Note that for the short period that you will be on stood off you will not be paid.You are advice to drop your telephone contact with admin department so they can reach you as the situation improves”.

He stated that the defendants were aware that by his employment letter dated March 11, 2002, he was restrained from engaging in any other employment, business or trade during the subsistence of his employment with the defendants. And they were also aware that the letter dated October 3, 2018 is not a letter sought to terminate his employment in anyway. However, refused to pay him who is a family man and a loving father of three children. 

He averred that in a bid to give effect to the said termination letter, the first defendant immediately and disgracefully debarred him from entering its compound and in fact authorized its officers to arrest him if he was seen near the defendants’ facilities. This standing instruction was put in place to dissuade him from claiming his various entitlements trapped in their hands.

He stated that as a result of the “stood off”, he could not meet his contractual and family obligations. And that he, who is the breadwinner of his family could not provide the basic necessities for his family to the extent that he and the members of his family were ejected out of their rented apartment on August 22, 2019, by reason of his financial difficulties in paying his house rent and other utility bills. And that his family were ejected from his rented apartment located at Block 152, Ojokoro Housing Estate, Meiran, Lagos State, due to his failure to meet his due obligations regarding the apartment. He has had to relocate to his home town in Ijebu-ode, and his children out of school due to his financial incapability

He also averred that due to the turbulence and troubles attendant to the unlawful stood off, he suffered psychological pain, emotional breakdown and became traumatized, distressed, sick and has eventually been diagnosed of serious illnesses amongst which is Hypertension which he is currently battling with. As a result of these health challenges, he had had to pay medical bills exceeding N40 million, through the help of well-wishers and other extended family for diagnoses and treatments.

On alleged particulars of Pension Fraud, the claimant stated that following his severe financial constraint, he sent a letter dated December 20, 2019, through an electronic mail to Premium Pension Limited, his pension managers to avail him his pension statement of account with PIN: PEN100689831323, to determine how much he could salvage from his pension account in order to pay his medical bills and to put his children back in school. But to his greatest shock, he discovered that the both defendants have never remitted his pension (both Employer and Employee contributions) despite that same were always deducted from his renumeration for the 16 years he worked with the two companies.

The claimant also averred that the two companies deducted income and other state taxes from his renumeration throughout his employment with the Defendants, from 2002 till date and the Defendants have failed and refused to remit the deducted taxes to the appropriate authorities.

He consequently said unless the court urgently intervene and granted the declarations and orders sought for, the first and second defendants will not ameliorate the damage they have occasioned him by their unlawful and oppressive declaration that rendered him redundant and without pay since 2018 till date in addition to the trade restraint. 

The two companies, Vita Construction Limited and Viras Limited, are yet to file their responses, despite been served. And no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Engineer Wants Vita Construction Ltd, Other Investigate, Prosecute On Alleged Tax, Pension Fraud

An engineer of Civil and Structural engineering, Oladele Taju Kuyoro, has accused Vita Construction Limited and it’s sister company, Viras Limited of alleged tax and pension fraud, claiming that all the monies deducted from his monthly emoluments as taxes and pensions for 16 years he worked with the two firms, were not remitted to the appropriate agencies. 

He also accused the two companies of job scam, where they make workers to work for both companies, with the promise the workers will be paid differently by each of the companies, but only ended up paying a ‘single salary’ for the services rendered to the companies.

He is consequently seeking for an order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) referring all issues of unpaid pensions and taxes, to the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) and the Lagos State Attorney General, for criminal investigation and prosecution bothering on pension fraud and tax evasion.

Engineer Oladele also asked the court for a declaration that his employment having not been terminated in a manner recognized by law, he is still remains an employee of the defendants till date and is entitled to all emoluments due to him by reason of the employment.

He also want the court to make an order nullifying and or setting aside the Vita Construction Limited’s letter dated October 3, 2018 for being oppressive, wrongful, malicious, unlawful, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

He further asked the court for an order entering Judgment in the sum of  of N321, 318, 097. 80 million, against the two companies, representing his renumeration for services rendered to them from March 2002 to December, 2011 and for the month of June, 2017; his 7.5% pension funds, from March 2002 to June 2014; and 10% pension fund for from July 2014 till October 2018 inclusive of underpayment pension contribution that occurred from May 2012 till June 2015; his NET renumeration from November, 2018 until the determination of this case; his Christmas bonus for the year 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; his weekly allowance covering telephone bills, personal travel allowance and subsidy from November, 2018; as specific damages for psychological pain, embarrassment, inconvenience, discomfort, and emotional stress and or trauma  or howsoever called as a result of the defendants’ oppressive, unfair and illegal act of rendering him redundant without pay after 16 years of hard labour and Solicitor’s fees.

The engineer sought above orders and declarations, in the processes filed before the court against Vita Construction Limited and Viras Limited, before the Lagos division of NICN, for wrongful and unlawful termination of his appointment by the two companies.

Oladele in his suit numbered NICN/LA/541/2020, filed before the court through his lawyer, Olamide Balogun, also  accused the two companies of reneged on their contractual agreement of paying him of his salaries and other benefits differently.

The Claimant, in his contract of Employment with the two firms, stated that by a publication placed in the Dailies sometimes in 2001, Vita Construction Limited (first defendant) called for applications from members of the public to fill the position of Civil/Structural Engineer, which he applied for and that the first defendant via a letter dated September 17, 2001 invited him for a preliminary interview. But to his total dismay, it was the the second defendant (Viras Limited) by a letter dated March 11, 2002 titled “Offer Of Appointment”, (letter of appointment), offered him an employment as a Site Engineer. And that by the terms of the offer letter, he was obligated to commence work on March 18, 2002. Adding that in terms of the said letter of appointment, he is entitled to be paid Housing, Transport, Medical, Utilities allowances and other allied emoluments including the statutory pension funds and other benefits, which includes 1.5 monthly salary leave/Christmas bonus payable at December of every year.

The claimant stated that upon a careful perusal of the letter of appointment especially the clause reproduced in paragraph 17 supra, he became apprehensive as the clause appears onerous and oppressive and as a result of this, he was very reluctant in accepting the offer. In fact, he opted to decline same until he was convinced by one Mr. Johnson Ighofese, the Head of Human Resources of Viras Limited, to accept the offer same stating that where an employee has been transferred to work in associated companies or made to act in dual capacity, it is the attitude of the company to adequately remunerate such employee. 

He stated further that at the time of his employment, he was oblivious of the rationale of being offered employment by the second defendant, as opposed to the first defendant to whom he applied and by whom he was interviewed. And that he was also unaware of the fact that the clause reproduced above was deliberately inputted into the letter of appointment to justify and facilitate the already premeditated exploitation of the two defendants. Adding that he was completely in the dark and oblivious of the fact that, the two defendants had set-out at the onset to exploit him.

He averred that upon resumption at work as agreed, he started as an employee of the second defendant and the second defendant and he was compelled to work for the two firms, but while being paid a single emolument by the second defendant which paid him from 2002 till 2012, , and the first defendant, Vita Construction Limited, paid him no dime at this time. He added that as a result of the misrepresentation and deception foisted on him, he lodged a complaint at the 2nd Defendant’s Human Resources Department vide a letter dated the 30th of September, 2002. The Human Resources Department however refused to acknowledge the said letter. But in response to his complaint, second Defendant Human Resources’ officers assured him that his total emolument for services rendered to the first defendant will be paid to him “in due time”. And in a bid to convince him and put his mind at rest which was already agitated, the second defendant further explained to him that this dynamics was deliberately put in place by the second defendant for the betterment of its employees, and in particular, for them to have sufficient income to augment the meager salaries they are being paid. 

He states further that since the phrase “in due time” amounts to no time, and given the fact that this bit was kept away from him from the onset, he was not comfortable with the assurances made to him by the second defendant’s Head of Human Resources and opted to know when exactly his emolument for the services being rendered to the first defendant will be due for payment, he then again lodged another complaint to the Defendants vide a letter dated the 1st of December, 2005 which as usual the Defendants again refused to acknowledge. 

He averred that when it was cleared to second defendant’s officers that he was not going to take an indefinite time for an answer, the second defendant again assured him that they were putting figures together and also assured him that the longer he worked for both firms the better for him, because the Claimant would have managed to save up reasonable amount of money with the Defendants, such that would be paid in bulk. He added that when he did not receive any notification from the Defendants for several years and following the fact that the second defendant had retained a new Head of Human resources, he again lodged another complaint to the two firm vide a letter dated October 1, 2009, which was delivered on October 2, 2009 which they refused to acknowledge, but the second defendant however, promised to resolve all issues surrounding his employment and particularly the issue of renumeration being withheld by the first defendant (Vita Construction Limited). 

The claimant averred that by January, 2012, the second defendant which had been paying him since 2002, when he was employed suddenly stopped paying his renumeration and the first defendant paid him for the first time since he started to render services to both defendants. He stated that with this development, he was comforted and of the impression that the first defendant would soon resolve all issues pertaining to all his renumeration that is being withheld by the first defendant. And that upon realizing that nothing had changed and that the second defendant has completely stopped paying him in a manner designed to confuse him, he lodged another complaint to the two firm vide a letter dated August 31, 2012, wherein he informed them that if by November 30, 2012, all his renumeration and other entitlement are not fully paid, he shall be constrained to tender his resignation from their employment. 

He stated that immediately the defendants received the letter, the second defendant in a letter dated October 2, 2012 informed him that he had been selected as one of the recipients of the 2012 Long Service Award, and accordingly invited him to a ceremony slated for Saturday, December 15, 2012 at the second defendant’s main office, admitting the dedicated services rendered to the first defendant, and recognizing his hard work, industry and prowess, the Managing Director of the first defendant presented him with a Ten (10) year long service certificate award at the ceremony, even though, the certificate of award was dated September 21, 2012. And that the first defendant further assured him that the issues surrounding his entitlement would be resolved in the coming weeks and persuaded him on the need to remain in the employ of the defendants.

He averred that while he ceaselessly continued to work for both the first and second defendants without corresponding pay, Surprisingly, he was served with the first defendant’s letter dated November 19, 2012 informing him that in line with the requirement of year 2011 NJIC, his final entitlement from the date of his employment to the 31st of December 2011 has been calculated and that the amount arrived at as his final entitlement was N567,786.19, which he immediately rejected in the letter dated November 19, 2012 and informed the first defendant that the outstanding renumeration over services rendered to the 1st Defendant from March, 2002 till December 31, 2011 is in the sums exceeding N6,354,646.79 million, and urged the first defendants to harmonize its record.

He claimant stated that in 2015, when the dispute among them were unresolved and that he did not get a conclusive resolution of the issues, he again lodged a complaint with the defendants vide a letter dated November 1, 2015, wherein he informed them that the sum due to him from the first defendant is in the sum of N6,354,646.79 million, whilst the sum of N5,911,913.2 million is due to him from the second defendant for the services rendered from January 2012 to September, 30, 2015.

He avers that the fist defendant refused to pay the sums due in spite of repeated demands. As if that was not enough, the first defendant in May 2018 unlawfully deducted his salary. He claimed that his total monthly emolument at the time was in the sum of N175,731.55 whilst his net pay after deductions of tax and pension contribution should be N155,239.85. However, the first defendant for no just cause paid him the sum of N132,255.00 which translated into a deduction of a whopping sum of N22,984.85, he  immediately contested this unlawful deduction and demanded an explanation for same. Strangely the sum was paid into the Claimant’s account in November, 2018.

He stated that whilst awaiting the first Defendant to retrace its step to liquidate all sums already due to him and awaiting liquidation, it again towed the path of dishonor as it in response to his several demands, suspended him for a month without pay. And that by the import of the said letter dated June 2, 2017, the first defendant unconscientiously alleged that on June 1, 2017 on site P697 which was directly under his control as a senior management staff, workers were allegedly found roaming about on the site. He stated that he again challenged the first Defendant for his unlawful suspension and when the first defendant discovered that it was unlikely that he would give in for all the oppressions emanating from it, the suspension was consequently reversed  vide a letter dated June 6, 2017. But in a bid to formalize the unlawful deduction it started in May 2018, the first Defendant in June 2018 unlawfully reduced his monthly emolument to the sum of N150,479.89 as opposed to the sum of N175,731.55. Upon receiving the pay slip for the month, he immediately lodged a complaint at the first defendant’s Human Resources Department who promised to rectify same and revert to him.

He stated that his legitimate demand surprisingly instigated the first defendant to issue a letter dated October 3, 2018 which was titled “Stood Off Staff”. And that the first defendant vide the said letter dated October 3, 2018 (hereinafter referred to as termination letter) adjudged and or declared him redundant without any lawful justification in the following terms: “this is to inform you that due to current realities in the industry and lack of contract/job you have been placed on stood off effect from October 3, 2018.Note that for the short period that you will be on stood off you will not be paid.You are advice to drop your telephone contact with admin department so they can reach you as the situation improves”.

He stated that the defendants were aware that by his employment letter dated March 11, 2002, he was restrained from engaging in any other employment, business or trade during the subsistence of his employment with the defendants. And they were also aware that the letter dated October 3, 2018 is not a letter sought to terminate his employment in anyway. However, refused to pay him who is a family man and a loving father of three children. 

He averred that in a bid to give effect to the said termination letter, the first defendant immediately and disgracefully debarred him from entering its compound and in fact authorized its officers to arrest him if he was seen near the defendants’ facilities. This standing instruction was put in place to dissuade him from claiming his various entitlements trapped in their hands.

He stated that as a result of the “stood off”, he could not meet his contractual and family obligations. And that he, who is the breadwinner of his family could not provide the basic necessities for his family to the extent that he and the members of his family were ejected out of their rented apartment on August 22, 2019, by reason of his financial difficulties in paying his house rent and other utility bills. And that his family were ejected from his rented apartment located at Block 152, Ojokoro Housing Estate, Meiran, Lagos State, due to his failure to meet his due obligations regarding the apartment. He has had to relocate to his home town in Ijebu-ode, and his children out of school due to his financial incapability

He also averred that due to the turbulence and troubles attendant to the unlawful stood off, he suffered psychological pain, emotional breakdown and became traumatized, distressed, sick and has eventually been diagnosed of serious illnesses amongst which is Hypertension which he is currently battling with. As a result of these health challenges, he had had to pay medical bills exceeding N40 million, through the help of well-wishers and other extended family for diagnoses and treatments.

On alleged particulars of Pension Fraud, the claimant stated that following his severe financial constraint, he sent a letter dated December 20, 2019, through an electronic mail to Premium Pension Limited, his pension managers to avail him his pension statement of account with PIN: PEN100689831323, to determine how much he could salvage from his pension account in order to pay his medical bills and to put his children back in school. But to his greatest shock, he discovered that the both defendants have never remitted his pension (both Employer and Employee contributions) despite that same were always deducted from his renumeration for the 16 years he worked with the two companies.

The claimant also averred that the two companies deducted income and other state taxes from his renumeration throughout his employment with the Defendants, from 2002 till date and the Defendants have failed and refused to remit the deducted taxes to the appropriate authorities.

He consequently said unless the court urgently intervene and granted the declarations and orders sought for, the first and second defendants will not ameliorate the damage they have occasioned him by their unlawful and oppressive declaration that rendered him redundant and without pay since 2018 till date in addition to the trade restraint. 

The two companies, Vita Construction Limited and Viras Limited, are yet to file their responses, despite been served. And no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.