Court orders First Bank to release Godson Nkume Deed of Assignment, awards 10M Naira Damages
His Lordship, Hon. Justice Ikechi Nweneka of the National Industrial Court, Lagos Judicial Division has ordered First Bank Ltd to pay retired staff Mr. Godson Nkume the sum of ten million naira damages for abysmal handling of the compensation due to him from the armed robbery attack on the Bank on 14th December 2006, Five Hundred Thousand Naira as damages for failure and or refusal to release Deed of Assignment and sum of N300,000 cost of action within 30 days.
The Court held that the bank breached his duty by failing to give due care and attention in processing Claimant’s compensation under the Group Personal Accident Insurance Scheme.
The facts, claimant- Nkume submitted that while in the services of the bank, armed robbers raided his Branch and shot him on both legs. He was operated and discharged 5 weeks after but continued his treatment as an outpatient.
He resumed work but was advised by the doctors not to drive for about a year to help the injuries heal faster. His Branch Manager made a report of the incident to the CIA and the Claimant applied to the Defendant for assistance to defray the salary of a driver he hired based on the medical advice at N20,000.00 per month, that despite the approval, the Defendant refused, failed and or neglected to pay.
The Claimant also claimed that the Defendant maintained a Group Personal Accident Insurance policy for its staff and by the contract of employment he was entitled to compensation for the injuries sustained during the armed robbery attack.
Claimant’s submitted further that he was granted a staff home construction loan and fully repaid but the Defendant refused, failed and or neglected to release his Deed of Assignment which affected some business transactions he wanted to go into after retirement.
Defendant’s submitted that the Claimant having ceased to be its employee is not entitled to claim under the Group Personal Accident insurance cover that as at the time the Claimant retired its policy for long service award gifts had been reviewed from gift items to vouchers.
Chief Adeniji counsel to the defendant submitted that the Court has no jurisdiction to try some claims for being caught by the Limitation Law of Lagos State which stipulates 6 years for actions founded on simple contract and 3 years for damages for negligence where personal injuries are involved that the action was commenced 12 years after for the gunshot injuries, and the Court has no jurisdiction to try other claims.
Further submitted that despite Claimant’s oral testimony to the contrary, the documentary evidence before the Court show beyond any doubt that the Claimant never complained of Defendant’s handling of his injury and treatment until he contrived of this action urged the court to dismiss the case.
Delivering Judgment, the presiding Judge, Justice Nweneka affirmed Jurisdiction and held that the cause of action could not have arisen in December 2006 when the armed robbery attack took place, but from the date when the Claimant became aware of the Defendant’s default in processing his compensation and further that statutes of limitation of actions do not apply to contracts of service, and affirmed jurisdiction.
“The Defendant appears to read paragraph 2 of Exhibits 3 and D6 to mean the Claimant did not ask for compensation. This will amount to reading the email out of context.
“His case, as I see it, is that based on his contract of employment and Article 15.10 of Exhibit 34, he is entitled to compensation for injuries sustained in the course of duty and that it was the Defendant’s duty to ensure this compensation was paid to him.
“So far, the Defendant has not produced any documentary evidence countermanding the Executive Director’s approval of N20,000 for the Claimant’s driver.
The Court ordered that the Defendant shall pay to the Claimant the sum of N240,000 [Two hundred and Forty thousand naira] being the sum of N20, 000 per month approved for the Claimant’s driver for one year.
Justice Nweneka ordered that the Defendant shall return forthwith and handover to the Claimant his Deed of Assignment no. 37/37/2261 dated 26th January 2010 and to immediately file at the relevant Lands Registry a release of the Legal Mortgage on the property.
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