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Retiree seeks payment of N22.9 million judgment award against John Holt

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A former senior executive officer of John Holt Plc, Mr. Martin Nwabuwa, has sought the intervention of the Federal Government in an alleged plot by his former employers, John Holt Plc to frustrate him from collecting his retirement benefits valued at N22.910million. 
 
Nwabuwa’s plea followed alleged indifference exhibited by the management of John Holt in the payment of the money after the Lagos division of the Court of Appeal affirmed the decision of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) on the matter. 

   
The appellate court in a judgment delivered on July 17, 2020, had dismissed John Holt’s appeal against the verdict of NICN delivered by Justice John Dele Peters in the matter in favour of Mr. Nwabuwa.
 
In the judgment delivered in April 2017, about three and half years ago, the court has ordered John Holt to pay the retiree a total sum of N19.2 million, which included his gratuity and other entitlements as well as interest from October 2009 up to date of final payment.
 
However, 10 weeks after it acknowledged receipt of the letter of demand after the Appeal Court judgment, John Holt has ignored the letter of demand by the retiree.

In the acknowledged letter of demand dated July 23, 2020, and addressed to the Managing Director of John Holt Plc, the retiree’s counsel, Sola Iji & Co, demanded that the judgment debtor complies with the judgment of the courts by paying the sum of N22.910million as the retiree benefits.
 


The breakdown of the benefits sanctioned by the court is N8.211 million as gratuity entitlement, N2.683 million for six months’ salary in lieu of termination, N50, 000 as cost of proceedings at NICN, N11. 765 million being the 10 per cent interest per annum on the entire judgment sum from October 2009 to July 2020 as well as N200, 000 being cost awarded by the Appeal court. 
   
But John Holt, formerly, a Nigerian Multinational Company, and its directors seemed to have made up their minds not to pay Mr. Nwabuwa his legitimate retirement benefits despite legislative and judicial intervention.
 
According to the matter, Nwabuwa was employed by John Holt in 1992 on Assistant General Manager grade, rose thereafter by promotions through Deputy General Manager to General, and finally to Senior Executive grade in January 2009, a period of 18 years of meritorious service to the company.
 
However, on October 16, 2009, he was prematurely retired through a letter dated October 16, 2009, when he was 52 years of age short of 3 years retirement age without normal six-month retirement notice in line with conditions of service embodied in the Human  Resource Manual 1. 

Although the letter of his retirement from the company stated among other things that he will be paid retirement benefits which are normally paid immediately upon retirement or within a few weeks thereafter, it was not to be so. 
 
Mr. Nwabuwa trajectory to collect his entitlement lasted over 1l years starting with legal action in Lagos High court, Ikeja in 2010.

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions intervened in the dispute from 2011 to 2013 with parties appearing before it on three different occasions with the House Committee on Legislative Compliance following up with John Holt for compliance with the House resolutions. The matter subsequently went to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), prompting the latest judgment. 
 
The retiree is therefore appealing to the authorities to ensure that he reaps his judgment benefits in his lifetime for a matter that has so far lasted eleven (11) whole years so far (2009 to 2020).

Meanwhile, the Management of John Holt, Plc has acknowledged receipt of the letter from the retiree’s lawyer 

The company secretary, Mrs Ada Nkwocha said the management was aware of the judgment debt and was working on it.

She however did not put a time frame for the liquidation of the N2 2.9 million judgment debt.


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