The National Industrial Court (NIC) in Enugu has granted accelerated hearing to a case filed in 2012 by the sacked Chairman of Enugu Workers’ Forum, Osmond Ugwu, against Enugu State Government over his purported and ‘unlawful’ dismissal from service on August 15, 2011.
Ugwu was issued with a sack letter by the state government over his labour activism. He was said to have championed the pursuit of proper chart implementation of the then N18,000 minimum wage in the state.
Ugwu had considered his sack as victimisation, saying it did not follow due process. When hearing of the matter came up yesterday, the sole defence witness, Cosmas Ngwu, was not in court for cross-examination, which made the defence counsel, Ifeoma Aniebonam, to ask for a stand down.
The claimant’s counsel, Emmanuel Awuja, however, opposed the motion, insisting that a court does not stand down for an absentee party, more so when the matter has dragged since 2012 when his client was wrongfully dismissed from service.
The trial judge, Justice O.O. Arowosegbe, upheld Awuja’s opposition for adjournment, stating that the defence has no good reason not to proceed with the matter and imposed the cost of N5, 000 on the defence.
Justice Arowosegbe adjourned the matter to February 10 and 17 2021 for accelerated proceedings on the case.
The claimant’s counsel, Awuja, in an interview shortly after the court session, regretted that the delay in the matter had taken a toll on his client, Ugwu, whom he said, had suffered victimisation on the course of protecting his co-civil servants in Enugu State and lamented the organised labour’s abandonment of Ugwu in pursuit of their general welfare.
“My client, Osmond Ugwu, was sacked from service by the Enugu State government on August 15, 2011 on the ground that he refused to answer three queries on him, whereas the queries were sent to him on September 5, 2011 and was given 24 hours to respond, which he did on September 6 but the government had sacked him before they issued him with a query.
“What gives me confidence in this matter is that we have a good case and we have enough evidence to back up our case. The claimant was wrongfully dismissed from service and from the documentary evidence, he was never given fair hearing and due process was not followed in terminating his employment with the Enugu State government,” said Awuja.
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