The National Industrial Court in Abuja has ordered DAAR Communications Plc to pay a former newscaster at its television station, African Independent Television (AIT), Peter Kumba, his retirement benefits.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the judge, Oyejoju Oyewumi, also, on Wednesday, ordered the company to pay Mr Kumba all his unpaid salaries, allowances and pension contributions.
Reporting the court’s judgment on Thursday, NAN recalls that Mr Kumba had, on March 10, 2020, sued his former employer, DAAR Communications Plc, for compulsorily retiring him on February 12, 2018, and failing to pay him all his benefits and accrued salaries.
Delivering judgment, Ms Oyewumi declared that the claimant was an employee of the defendant’s company as opposed to the contention of the defendant.
The court, in addition, held that the statutory declaration of age tendered by the claimant to prove his age was admissible and therefore relevant as against the defendant’s contention that it was forged.
‘Compulsory retirement breached company’s procedure manual’
It added that the defendant’s act of retiring the claimant before his attainment of 65 years of age or 40 years of service, whichever was earlier, was inconsistent with the defendant’s internal control policies and procedures manual.
”The claimant is entitled to his full retirement benefits, outstanding salaries, unpaid allowances, pension contributions and therefore ordered that the claimant should be paid same by the defendant,” the judge held.
She also ordered DAAR Communications to pay the claimant one year full salary in general damages, as the defendant failed to pay him his terminal benefits since his compulsory retirement.
She also ordered the defendant to compute the claimant’s benefits, unpaid allowances, pension contributions, and pay him within 30 days from the date of the judgment.
Kumba’s suit, DAAR’s defence
The claimant had through his counsel, Oladimeji Adebayo, sought, among others, a declaration that his compulsory retirement was inconsistent with the provisions of the defendant’s Internal Control Policies and Procedures Manual, as signed and dated Nov. 2, 2011.
Mr Kumba sought a declaration that he was entitled to his full retirement benefits, outstanding salaries, unpaid allowances, payment in lieu of annual leave and pension contributions.
In his statement of facts, the claimant said he was employed in 2004 as an editor, and was compulsorily retired on February 12, 2018, when he had not attained the mandatory retirement age and had not spent the maximum 40 years in service, as stipulated by the defendant’s Internal Control Policies and Procedures Manual.
Mr Kumba, however, added that he was not only prematurely retired, his former employer also failed to pay him all he was entitled to, and had duly earned.
He therefore resorted to filing the suit to challenge his compulsory retirement by instituting the suit.
But DAAR Communications, in its statement of defence, argued through its counsel, Okechukwu Opara, that the claimant’s declaration of age as tendered was forged as his retirement was not forced nor compulsory.
It contended that Mr Kumba attained the mandatory age as of the time he retired.
The defendant also submitted that the claimant had records of negligence and dereliction of duty which necessitated queries being issued him, but chose to give him soft landing to enable the claimant secure another employment without the baggage of dismissal.
It also alleged that the claimant was retired when he abandoned his editorial and production duties and became unproductive and a burden.
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