Symbol of justice
By Tobi Soniyi
Trustfund Pensions Plc has lost the bid to stop the National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja from hearing the case filed by the sacked managing director of the company, Mr. Bernard Nkem Ekwe, challenging his removal from office as the MD.
The court last Friday dismissed an objection filed by Trustfund seeking to dismiss Ekwe’s claim that his removal from office as MD was improper.
The court had earlier stopped the pension company from appointing a new managing director pending the determination of a suit filed by Ekwe.
Justice A.O. Shogbola while dismissing the objection said the court was empowered to hear cases involving disputes between employees and employers.
He said: “Following a careful perusal of the claims, it is very clear that the claimant is challenging his removal as the managing director of Trustfund Pensions Plc by the defendants.
“From the facts available to this court, the claimant was an employee of the defendants before his employment was brought to an end abruptly.
“This means that the issue involved in this matter has to do with employment or non-employment of the claimant.”
Ekwe had dragged the firm to the Industrial Court claiming that he was unlawfully removed from office as managing director.
He asked the court to declare that he remained in office as managing director of the pension firm and entitled to be paid all wages, emoluments and other entitlements.
In response, Trustfund filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.
In the objection, the pension firm said that the Industrial Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.
It said that only the Federal High Court had the jurisdiction.
But Mr. Adeyemi Pitan, who appeared for the plaintiff, said that the federal high court had no jurisdiction on issues bordering on contractual relationship between an employee and an employer.
But before arguments could be taken on the objection, the court ordered the parties to maintain the status quo meaning that Trustfund should not appoint a new MD until Ekwe’s case had been determined.
However, dissatisfied with the court’s ruling, Trustfund has filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal in Abuja asking the appellate court to set aside the lower court’s order stopping the firm from appointing a new MD.