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Former employee seeks to commit ex-boss to prison

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High Court

After 14 years of alleged refusal to comply with a court order, former employee of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Benedict O. Iheakam, has asked court for an order committing to prison, the Managing Director of the NRC, Engineer Fidet Okhiria and the Company Secretary/Legal Adviser, Canise Okwuoma.

The plaintiff counsel, Mr Johnson Esezoobo filed form 48 before Federal High Court, Lagos, praying the court to commit to prison, the Managing Director for refusing to obey the order made by Justice Dan Abutu in a suit marked as FHC/L/CS/926/95 to reinstate Iheakam to his employment and pay his entitlements.

The judge had declared in a judgment delivered on February 18, 2003 that Iheakam, a Principal Technical Officer’s purported retirement letter dated, November 1,1994 is contrary to the contract of employment and is therefore unlawful, null and void.

The judge held that the company had in 1992, nominated Iheakam as one of those to attend three months Commonwealth sponsored course in Zambia. “During the period of three months, they were given USD$500 per month. The total amount for the three months was USD$1,500 U.S, given to them in Zambia currency.

They were not given estacode, but were orally told that on their return to Nigeria, they would be paid all entitlements.

“I have carefully perused the standard conditions of service of the defendant, which govern the appointment of the plaintiff admitted as exhibit 2 in this case and I am unable to see any provision thereof, which permits the retirement of an employee for no reason.

“I hold that the retirement of the plaintiff is invalid, null and void. The plaintiff is entitled to continue to have right to be treated as an employee of the defendant, notwithstanding his purported retirement vide letter dated 1st November 1994 admitted as Exhibit 11A in this case.

“The defendant is hereby ordered to reinstate the plaintiff forthwith to his employment and to restore him to his rank as Principal Technical Officer 1(Metal) with full salary and all entitlements from October 1994 to the date of judgment herein.

“The sum of USD $21,285, being the total of estacode allowance for 93 days is hereby awarded for the plaintiff to be paid by the defendants,” the judge ordered.

However, since February 18, 2003 the management of NRC refused to reinstate the plaintiff nor pay his entitlements, not withstanding that they lost in all their applications to appeal the judgment from 2005 to 2014 when the last application was struck out for incompetence.



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