A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

Judge’s death stalls ex-Baker Hughes workers’ N12bn case

*A scale, hammer and a gavel – symbols of justice.

Mkpoikana Udoma

04 March 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt —
The National Industrial Court of Nigeria, NICN, sitting in Port Harcourt has not ruled on the N12billion case involving over 200ex-employees of Baker Hughes Nigeria Limited, following the demise of the presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Awal.

Justice Awal, according to the ex-workers, died on Monday, 27th February 2018, just five days to the date he was to rule on the suit between the ex-oil workers and the CEO of Baker Hughes Incorporated, Mr. Martin Craighead, Baker Hughes Incorporated and Baker Hughes Company Nigeria Limited, on alleged unlawful disengagement by the company without commensurate severance package.

Counsel to the ex-workers, Barr. George Ogara had filed an injunction asking the court to prevail on the American oil servicing firm to pay a total sum of N12 billion as redundancy benefits and compensation to the disengaged workers, and that the money should be paid into the court’s bank account.

Speaking to newsmen, the Spokesperson of the aggrieved ex-employees, Mr. Harry Enoch, who expressed sadness over the demise of the late Judge, whom he described as a man filled with knowledge, said the Nigerian Judiciary has lost a gem.

Enoch explained that they (ex-oil workers) have been briefed by their lawyer, Barr. George Ogara, that the case will be re-assign to another judge.

According to him, “Were thrown into shock on the news of the demise of Justice Ibrahim Awal. As humans, we feel sad over his death, especially because our case is involved.

“We are very much worried over the delay which the process of re-assigning of the case would cause; so many of us are tense right now because we have waited for so long, remember this case started in January 2017 in Yenegoa, then Enugu before we came to Port Harcourt, it is over a year now.

“Industrial disputes are not supposed to last more than six to nine months.”

The aggrieved ex-oil workers also appealed to the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, to speed up the process on the re-assigning of the case, to enable them to get justice as soon as possible.

Enoch, however, expressed optimism that whoever that will take over the case will give them justice since the judiciary remains the last hope of the common man.

“We are appealing to the President of the NICN, who assign cases, to re-assign over the case as quickly as possible.

“We pray and we hope that another Judge that will take over our case will be like Justice Awal or even better,” the ex-Baker Hughes employees said.

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