BY Chinedu Asadu
The Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc says it has appealed against the order of the national industrial court directing it to pay the outstanding salaries of Sambo Abdullahi, the company’s former head of internal audit.
The company said it had filed an application for a stay of execution on the judgment delivered on March 11, 2020.
Abdullahi alongside Waziri Bintube, another staff member, accused Marilyn Amobi (pictured), managing director of NBET, of fraud.
This was after a re-organisation at the agency resulted in the redeployment of the staff out of their primary offices.
After he was redeployed, Abdullahi reportedly refused to resume at his new post.
His salaries were subsequently withheld after he allegedly failed to report to duty for months.
The industrial court held that the suspension of Abdullahi’s salaries was unlawful, and that NBET’s refusal to approve his request for annual leave was wrong.
But Babalakin & Co., legal representatives of NBET, said the court order is flawed for a number of reasons, including the court’s “failure” to consider a preliminary objection challenging its jurisdiction to hear the case.
It said the objection, adopted on January 14, was filed on the grounds that the suit was not initiated within the three-month statutory period prescribed under the public officers protection act for instituting an action against a public officer.
“Undoubtedly if the court had considered this objection to its jurisdiction, it would have dismissed the action in limine in which case it would have no jurisdiction to go into the merits of the case as it wrongly did,” it said.
The counsel said while the court largely premised its judgment on its finding that NBET is subject to the supervision of the ministry of power, what led to such a premise is “completely unfounded in law and unsupportable by evidence led during trial”.
It also said the court wrongfully held that the ministry directed NBET to pay Abdullahi his accrued salaries based on a March 20, 2018 letter which the counsel said was not a certified true copy by the ministry.
“The stoppage of his salaries in December 2017 was completely distinct from the events leading to the setting up of DHC which they said was never the case of NBET but that of Sambo,” the counsel added.