Medview Airlines Ordered To Pay Aviation Consultant Withheld Salaries

Medview Airlines has been ordered by the Kano division of the National Industrial Court (NICN) to pay a total sum of N5,069,048 million, to one Garba Ibrahim Abubakar, an Aviation Consultant, being his withheld total salaries by the airline. 

Justice E.D.E. Isele who presided over the court made the order while delivering judgment in a suit marked NICN/MAID/01/2019, filed against Medview Airlines by the aviation consultant, over his unpaid salary.

The applicant, who worked with the airline had dragged the aviation company before the court over refusal to pay him for the month of February to December, 2018 and the monthly deduction from his salaries from May 2016 to December, 2018, which were illegally withheld and unpaid, unremitted by the airline.

He consequently asked for “a declaration that he is entitled to and be paid his salaries for the months of February – December, 2018, totaling the sum of N4,470 million.

“A declaration that he is entitled to be paid the sum of N599, 048: 00, being the unremitted monthly deductions made by the airline from his salaries from the months of May, 2016 to December, 2018.

“An order directing the immediate payment to the claimant the total sum of N 5, 069,048 million, being his unpaid salaries for the months of February to December, 2018 and the monthly deduction made by the airline, from his salaries from May, 2016 to December, 2018, but illegally withheld, unpaid and unremitted by the Defendant.”

During the trial of the suit, the claimant while being led in evidence by Z. A. Tata, who held the brief  of N. A. Dammo, told the court that he was employed by the Defendant as a Marketing Officer and placed on a gross pay of N60,000:00 per month effective from May 1, 2009, that as has he was employed on April 29, 2009. Adding that as he continued in the employment of the airline, he was promoted and posted to several stations within and outside Nigeria and also, his salary was increased. 

He stated that in the year 2017, by an internal memo dated March 3, 2017 the airline reviewed his salary upward to N260,000:00 (Nigerian Currency) per month. He also maintained that he was posted to Dakar, Senegal by the airline as it’s Country Manager, on a salary of $3,000:00 (US) monthly. Adding that he resumed in Dakar, Senegal on October 1, 2017 and was there until March 30, 2018 when he was posted back to Nigeria by the Defendant.

The Claimant averred further that upon his return to Nigeria, he resumed work in April 2018 and worked up until December 20, 2018 when the airline dispensed with his services. Adding that his salary for the months of February, 2018 up to December, 2018 was not paid by the Defendant. And that the defendant also withheld the monthly deduction of N18,720:00 it made from his salaries for his Pensions by refusing and failing to remit it to his Pension Managers, Sigma Pensions Limited, for the months of May, 2016 December, 2018. Which refusal was confirmed by the said Pension Managers and he was given copies of his statement of account admitted as 

He stated that following the airline’s decision to dispense with his services he demanded through his solicitors that the defendant pay him his unpaid salaries for the months of February to December, 2018 and the deductions made from his salaries for the months of May, 2016 to December, 2018 which the defendant refused and failed to pay.

Other two witnesses, Mohammed Ghali Baba, a businessman, engaged in selling foreign currency, and Hassan Jibril, a Pensions Fund Administrator with Sigma Pensions Limited also testified as claimant’s witness.

The airline, Medview Airlines, was not represented by any lawyer but filed a Preliminary Objection, for the suit to be dismissed.

However, when the matter came up from hearing on May 21, 2019, the claimant told the court that the defendant filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection dated April 8, 2019.

But on December 12, 2019 the court ruled and struck out the said Preliminary Objection, for non-compliance with the Rules of court and Section 97 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act and for lack of endorsement on the Writ of Summons served on the defendant outside Borno State

Deciding the suit, Justice Isele, taken cursory look at all the exhibits tendered and legally valued the evidence given by the claimant and other witnesses, and valued all the issued raised by the claimant’s lawyer ruled as follows: “It is clear that the defendant had been aware of the proceeding against it, and had sought through the dismissed Preliminary Objection to have the Claimant’s case Struck out. After the dismissal of the Preliminary Objection, the defendant failed to file it’s Defence, neither did it take any step to file any further process in this suit as required by the Rules of Court.

“The law is that where an adversary fails to adduce evidence to put on the other side of the imaginary scale of justice, minimal evidence adduced by the other side will suffice to prove his case. This is because the Defendant is deemed to have accepted the pleadings and evidence of the case of the Plaintiff (Claimant) in totality, the onus and standard of proof being minimal. See OBUTE V. ABDULKAREEM (2014) LPELR – 23971 (CA).

“On the basis of the above, the case of the claimant succeeds and judgment be and is hereby entered for the claimant as prayed.

“For avoidance of doubt in the first head of claim, it is hereby declared that the claimant is entitled to and be paid his salaries for the months of February to December, 2018 totaling the sum of N4,470 million.

“In the second head, it is declared that the claimant is entitled to be paid the sum of  N599, 048, 00, being the unremitted monthly deductions made by the Defendant from the claimant’s salaries from the months of May, 2016 to December, 2018.

“In the 3rd head of claim, it is hereby ordered that the Defendant pay to the claimant forthwith the total sum N5, 069, 048 million, being the claimant’s unpaid salaries for the months of February to December, 2018 and the monthly deduction made by the defendant from the Claimant’s salaries from May 2016 to December, 2018 but illegally withheld and unpaid, unremitted by the Defendant.

“All these sums shall be paid within 60 days of this Judgment. There are no orders as to cost. Judgment is entered accordingly.”