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N26m retiree gratuity: Court slams UTC for delaying justice

The National Industrial Court of Nigeria, on Thursday, berated one of Nigeria’s foremost confectionaries company, UTC Nigeria Plc over its failure to file its defence in a case filed against it before the court.

A retiree of the company, Mrs. Abolade Ajala, had dragged the company to court over its alleged failure to pay her retirement benefits up to the tune of N26, 558,012.76, having served the company for 29 years before her retirement in 2011.

The court had fixed Thursday for report of the filing of the defendant’s response to the claimant’s claim.

When the matter came up before Justice O. O. Oyewunmi, counsel to the defendant, Martina Aguotcha informed the court that the defendant was yet to file its defence as its witness has travelled out of the country.

At the counsel’s revelation, the judge blasted the company for failing to file its response 15 months after it had been served the Notice.

She described the defendant’s action as a ploy to deny the claimant justice and waste the time of the court.

“You have been served since January 2015, which is over one year and the court has been magnanimous to grant you several adjournments for you to respond, yet you have failed to file your response till date. What impression are you giving the people? That cases are delayed unnecessarily in court? This is the reason people are discouraged from coming to court” the judge blasted.

She added: “This kind of action discourages people from coming to court to fight for their rights. This does not augur well. This is so appalling from this defendant. The court cannot be waiting for an unwilling defendant.”

The matter was therefore adjourned till October 15, 2016 for hearing.

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