Tuesday, 7th February 2023
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Court dismisses defamation claims against Mobil Nig

The National Industrial Court, on Wednesday, dismissed a defamation suit filed by Mr Godwin Akpan against Mobil Producing Nigeria for lacking in merit.

The National Industrial Court, on Wednesday, dismissed a defamation suit filed by Mr Godwin Akpan against Mobil Producing Nigeria for lacking in merit.

In delivering Judgment, Justice Mahmood Namtari, held that a servant who claims a wrongful termination of employment must show in what manner the wrong was done.

The court, however, declared that the termination of the claimant’s employment by Gins Global Ltd, the first defendant, as wrongful.

The court in addition stated that the termination was not in accordance with the employment agreement and ordered the firm to pay the claimant, the sum of N120,000 as severance benefit and N75,000 as his 2019 contract bonus.

The court further ordered the payment of N180,000 being the claimant’s three months salary as general damages for unlawful termination of employment.

The total of N375,000 was therefore awarded in favour of the claimant.

From facts, the claimant, Akpan submitted that he was offered employment as a Laundryman by Gins Global Ltd, who was a labour and service contractor for Mobil Producing Nig., the second defendant.

The claimant also asserted that it was wrong and against custom, norm, and international best practice for the firm to unilaterally convert and transfer his services to another department without his consent.

Akpan in his submission also averred that it was when he complained to the General Manager about the forced labour that he was threatened with sack.

In his submission, Akpan equally said that it was against this background that his employment was terminated for services no longer required without one week notice or one week salary in lieu of notice as stipulated in the offer of appointment letter.

He further averred that the first defendant conspired with the second defendant’s security personnel to maliciously defamed him in presence and hearing of other staff.

He urged the court to grant the reliefs he sought.

The first defendant, Gins Global Ltd did not enter any formal appearance, file any defence, and did not have any legal representation throughout the hearing of the case.

The second defendant in defence contended that any person whose services was no longer required cannot access any of its facilities and that it never blacklisted or accused the claimant of any criminal act and no witness or third party testified to prove the publication of the said slanderous words.

Mobil Producing Nigeria in addition through its counsel, Mr Bassey Edet, argued that the claimant admitted in evidence that his client was not his employer which was so proved by the Service Outline Agreement.

The counsel also submitted that there existed no privity of contract between the claimant and his client to warrant any liability on its part.

The counsel, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the suit with exemplary costs for being frivolous, vexatious and fictitious.

In opposition, the claimant’s counsel, Nwabueze Onukogu also submitted that it was contrary to international labour standards for employers to terminate the employment of their employees without stating reasons.

The court on its part after evaluating the submissions of both parties held that a servant who complains that his employment had been wrongfully brought to an end must find his claim on the contract of service and show in what manner the wrong was done.

Namtari further held that Gins Global Ltd stipulated one week notice or one week salary in lieu of notice was not complied with in termination of the claimant’s employment and no evidence existed that his severance benefits were paid.

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