By Dennis Naku
The National Industrial Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered Guinness Nigeria Plc and three others to pay an aggrieved former employee of the company, Bright Nwosu, the sum of N52,456,000 million over wrongful termination of employment.
Bright Nwosu. who was employed by Guinness Nigeria Plc in 2004 as a Sales Executive, filed a suit against the firm as a defendant on September 18, 2019, after he was wrongfully disengaged.
Delivering judgment in the suit marked NICN/PHC/108/2019, the court presided over by Justice Nelson Ogbuanya, held that Guinness Nigeria Plc erred when it terminated the employment of Nwosu without justification, adding that evidence before the court proved that the sacked employee was diligent in his duties before the termination of his employment.
The court however declared as unacceptable the stipulation of Guinness employees’ handbook, that employees can be sacked without expressly stating the reason behind the sacking.
The Judge then ordered that Guinness pay Nwosu N19 million and N886,000 (Eight Hundred and Eighty-Six Thousand Naira for his terminal benefit and gratuity, having worked for 15 years before his sacking.
The court also ordered Guinness to pay Nwosu his two months unpaid salaries in lieu of notice, amounting to N570,000 (Five Hundred and Seventy Thousand Naira).
Justice Ogbuanya also ordered Guinness to pay the sum of N30 million to Nwosu as damages for the unfair labour practices he suffered, as well as pay the claimant (Nwosu), an additional sum of N2 million as cost of litigation.
The judge clarified that all sums of money awarded in favour of the claimant must be paid within two months from the date of judgment delivery, saying any delay would attract a 10 per cent interest per annum until fully liquidated.
Speaking with our correspondent outside the courtroom, Counsel for the claimant, Cletus Azunku, who held the brief of A. A. Brown, hailed the court judgment.
He said it would serve as a deterrent to employers who victimise their employees in the country.
Azunku stated, “The judgment is a very good one, it serves as a deterrent to every other employer.
“In the classification of employment under our labour law, this falls under master-servant relationship, even though that master has the prerogative to terminate a contract of employment at any point in time, records must be heard to the provision of the contract of employment if there should be any regulation at all, then the provision must be followed to the letter.”
On his part, counsel for the defendants, K. C. Eze, declined comments when approached, saying he wasn’t authorised to speak to the press on the matter.