Court Slams Dangote Oil Refining For Unlawful Dismissal Of Employee

The Lagos division of the National Industrial Court Of Nigeria (NICN) has awarded damages against two of Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s companies, Dangote Oil Refining Company Limited and Dangote Projects Limited, for a purported dismissal of one Peter Terngu Ahemen, by the Dangote’s Companies.

Consequently, Justice Justice (Dr.) Elizabeth A Oji, who presided over the court has ordered Dangote Oil Refining Company Limited and Dangote Projects Limited, which are both defendants in the suit, to pay the sum of N950, 000, 00, to the dismissed staff, Peter Terngu Ahemen, as damages and in lieu of notice.

The plaintiff, Peter, had approached the court through his lawyer, Gibson Elumelu, in a suit numbered NICN/LA/510/2019, wherein he sought for the following reliefs; “a declaration that the first defendant is bound by the terms and conditions of the claimant’s letter of employment and training bond.

“A declaration that the termination of his employment by the second defendant vide a letter dated May 20, 2019 contravenes the terms and conditions of his letter of employment dated February 4, 2016 as well as the rules of natural justice and is therefore null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

“A declaration that the termination of the employment of the claimant by the second defendant vide a letter date May 20, 2019 amounts to a brazen breach of contract between parties to this suit.

“A declaration that the termination of the employment of the claimant by the 2nd defendant vide a letter dated May 20, 2019 is wrongful in law.

“An order that the defendants jointly and severally shall pay to the him the sum of N187, 583.78, being the net sum of the his unpaid monthly remuneration from the month of February, 2019 to the date of judgment.

“An interest on the said amount of N187, 583.78, only from February 28, 2019 at the rate of 22 percent per annum till judgment and thereafter at the rate of 22 percent till final liquidation of the debt.

“An order that the defendants jointly and severally, shall pay the sum of N300 million only, to him as damages for brazen breach of contract and as general damages for the psychological trauma, torture, pain, agony, stress and frustration they forced him to pass through. And an order for payment of the sum of N2 million as cost of instituting the action.
 But the two Dangote’s companies, Dangote Oil Refining Company Limited and Dangote Projects Limited through their lawyers, E. A. Okorie and Chris C. Ottih, filed a joint Statement of Defence, together with defendants’ witness statement on oath deposed to by Mr Douglas Adiele.

The defendants equally filed a counterclaim wherein they asked following: “a declaration that the claimant/first defendant to counterclaim is in breach of his agreement, obligations, covenant, undertaking and bond to the first defendant as contained in the Training Bond dated February 29, 2016.

“An order for the payment of the sum of N15, 714 million to the first defendant being Training/course fee, Visa processing fee, FRRO cost, Air ticket/travel expenses, accommodation cost, transportation cost, feeding including a consolidated training stipend of $300 per month and other ancillary cost of logistics incurred by the first defendant in the claimant’s foreign training.

“An order for the payment of the sum of N7 million, being and representing general and exemplary damages for the claimant’s breach of its agreement and undertaking with the first defendant and being the legal fees paid by the first defendant to defend the suit.

“Payment of interest on the above sum to the first defendant/counterclaimant at the rate of 21 percent per annum from the 24th day of January, 2019 till judgment is delivered hereof and thereafter at 15 percent until total liquidation.

 The presiding judge, Justice (Dr.) Oji,in her judgment, after painstakingly perused the parties’ documentary exhibits, and cited plethoras of legal authorites held that: “for avoidance of doubt, the counterclaim fails in its entirety. The Claimant’s suit succeeds in part.  

“The defendants are ordered to pay to the Claimant, the sum of N180, 000.00, being the Claimant’s unpaid monthly remuneration from the month of February, 2019 to May 2019, and June 2019 as salary in lieu of notice.  Total to be paid is N900,000.00(Nine Hundred Thousand Naira) only.  

“The cost of this suit is set at N500, 000.00, only to be paid to the Claimant by Defendants.  

“All adjudged sum to be paid not later than 30 days from the date of this judgment failing which interest will accrued at the rate of 20 percent per annum.”