• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Court orders Jimoh Ibrahim to pay ex-Air Nigeria workers N475m, nullifies sack

Nigeria Airways

Justice Agbadum Fishim of National Industrial Court of Nigeria on Wednesday delivered a judgment that the termination of over 800 workers of defunct Air Nigeria was illegal, just as the court ordered the defendant (Air Nigeria), owned by Jimoh Ibrahim, to pay the claimant the sum of N475, 280, 492.48.
Ibrahim was also ordered to pay them $309, 270.00, being the claimants’ arrears of salary, and another order to pay each of the claimants their respective one month salary in lieu of notice.

Also granted by the judge is that the defendant shall calculate each of the claimants’ contributory pension entitlement and pay same to their respective Pension Fund Administrator. The defendant was ordered to pay N5 million cost to each of the claimants, noting that the defendant shall pay to the claimants the judgment sum not later than 30 days from the date of the judgment.

Justice Fishim warned that failure of which the entire sum would attract 10 percent interest.

The plaintiffs, represented by Livinus Olisakwe, Roland Ahmed, Odunukwe Christopher, Awonga Israel and Jaja Somiari Dandison, had sued the company, Air Nigeria Development Company Limited and prayed that a declaration that the purported termination of the claimants’ employment by the defendant via media in the face of newspaper was wrongful, unlawful, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

In a suit filed by the workers’ solicitors – Muhmad Adesina ESQ and Ogunsany & Ogunsanya against Air Nigeria and other two defendants, the workers said they were all employed by Virgin Nigeria Airways Limited via their respective letters of employment but that on December 31, 2010, Virgin Nigeria Airways Limited was change to Air Nigeria Development Limited and all business related and liabilities of Virgin Nigeria Airways Limited were transferred to Air Nigeria.

The workers through their solicitors also averred that the letter notifying them of the change was communicated them by Jimoh Ibrahim through the CEO of the airline, Kinfe Kanssaye, who also signed them.

The termination of their employments, they said did not follow due process as contained in the employment handbook, adding that the workers did not withdraw their respective services to Air Nigeria, as they did not write any letter to the company.

The workers averred that prior to the termination of their appointments by Air Nigeria, the airline owed workers arrears of salaries – from May to August 2012, and that some were paid for the month of May only, while others were not.

The workers in their suit claimed that prior to the wrongful termination of their appointments, they had contributed 7.5 percent of their salaries to the Pension Contributory Scheme, while the company contributed 7.5 percent.

Despite deducting this amount from the workers’ salaries, the company has not been remitting same to the pension scheme as agreed upon by employer and employees.