The National Industrial Court, Abuja on Wednesday, ordered DAAR Communications Plc to pay a former newscaster with the African Independent Television (AIT), Peter Kumba, his retirement benefits.
DAAR Communications Plc was also ordered to pay Kumba all his unpaid salaries and allowances and pension contributions.
Kumba, on March 10, 2020, dragged his former employer, DAAR Communications Plc, to court over his compulsory retirement and its failure to pay his entitlements.
Delivering judgment, the judge, Justice Oyejoju 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 submitted 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.
The judgment stated that the defendant’s act of retiring the claimant before the age of 65 years 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.
The judge also ordered that DAAR communications to pay the claimant one year full salary in general damages, as the defendant failed to pay the claimant his terminal benefits since his compulsory retirement.
She ordered that the defendant should compute the claimant’s benefits, unpaid allowances, pension contributions, pay him and comply with the judgment within 30 days from the date of judgment.
The claimant had through his counsel, Oladimeji Adebayo, sought for 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.
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, Kumba said he was employed in 2004 as an Editor.
He was compulsorily retired on Feb. 12, 2018, when he had not attained the mandatory age of 65 for retirement and had not spent 40 years, as stipulated by the defendant’s Internal Control Policies and Procedures Manual.
Kumba further stated that after he was made to retire, his former employer failed to pay him all he was entitled to, and had duly earned, hence he challenged his compulsory retirement by instituting the suit.
The defendant in its statement of defence, as argued by its counsel, Okechukwu Opara, however, averred that the claimant’s declaration of age as tendered was forged as his retirement was not forced nor compulsory.
DAAR communications contended that Kumba attained the mandatory age as at 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 a soft landing to enable the claimant to secure another employment without the baggage of dismissal.
The defence also alleged that the claimant was retired when he abandoned his editorial and production duties when he deliberately became unproductive and a burden because the defendant had refused his demand to withdraw from his editorial and production duties on purported medical advice.