THE National Industrial Court sitting in Awka, Anambra State, has declined an application by Chevron Nigeria Limited, to be granted 21 days to respond to a motion by counsel to 235 workers, who are demanding N23.5 billion as damage for perceived wrongful disengagement.
Counsel to Chevron, Akpomudje Albert, SAN, who was represented by a colleague, prayed the court to grant them time to file consequential amended statement of defence, but the trial judge, Justice W. Abali, granted 14 days to Chevron with effect from June June 6 to respond to the amended prayer of the plaintiffs. Counsel to the 235 claimants, Chief V. E. Otomiewo,who was represented by Jarikre Dave, had filed a motion for amendment of statement of facts so as to add other documents as well as seek the court to grant an application for the substantive case to commence, as against pre-trial, whether or not the 4th defendant, Hensteel Engr. & Construction Services Limited appears at the next hearing. Justice Abali, after listening to the counsel, ordered that a hearing notice be served on the 4th defendant, who has been absent since the case commenced and adjourned further hearing to July 17, 2017.
It was gathered that some of the affected workers have died as a result of the untold hardship caused by their controversial dismissal, while a couple of them have relocated to their villages due to their inability to meet up their daily responsibilities. The disengaged workers were engaged by four of Chevron’s contracting firms: Joceco Nigeria Limited, Pat Onosen Nigeria Enterprises Limited, Sanco Calaya J.V. Nigeria Limited and Hensteel Engr. & Construction Services Limited. The plaintiffs are praying the court to compel Chevron and its four contracting firms to pay them damage of N100 million each, totalling N23.5 billion for their disengagement.