The National Industrial Court (NIC) sitting in Jos, the Plateau State capital, on Tuesday ordered the Nassarawa State Government and Nassarawa United Football Club to pay the sum of N98 million to 5 coaches and 12 players being their unpaid salaries and sign-on-fees.
Justice Kenneth Amadi gave the order in two separate judgements issued in favour of the coaches and players who had separately sued the two aforementioned over their failure to settle their entitlements since 2015.
Amadi gave the club and the state government till April 30 to settle the unpaid entitlements of the 5 coaches and 12 players.
The coaches who got the judgement were Evans Ogenyi, Sylvester Ekoja, Michael Jatau, Bala Nikyu and El Shammah Inusa who served as Technical Adviser, Assistant Coach, Chief Coach, Goal Keeper Trainer and Chief trainer respectively, before being laid off in 2015.
While the aggrieved players, who were laid off by the club in 2015, include Okopi Sunday, Vincent Christopher and Jediael Dachor.
Others are Shehu Dauda, Marcus Zung, Michael Ibi, Abba Abdullahi, Peter Gregory, Bidemi Abdulwahab, Samaila Mohammed, Abubakar Isah and Danlami Mohammed.
Meanwhile, out to the amount (N98M), the coaches are to be paid N46. 35M, while the players are to be paid the sum of N 51.65M respectively as unpaid salaries, match bonuses and sign-on fees.
The two group had approached the Industrial Court through their separate counsels, Messrs Paul Hammachi and A,G. Yirvoms, and prayed it to compel the club and the state government to pay them their entitlements awarded to them by NFF Players Status/Arbitration Committee on Oct. 10, 2015.
The club and the state government their Counsel, Mr Ishaku Usman, who is also the state’s Solicitor-General, had objected to the two separate applications and asked the court to strike them out and dismiss them on the ground that they lacked merit just as the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain them.
But Judge, in a separate judgement, upheld the NFF arbitral award to both the 5 coaches and 12 players on the ground that the NIC has jurisdiction to adjudicate on the cases by virtue of section 254 of the Nigerian constitution 2010 (as amended).
Amadi said, “The issues here border on employment and unpaid salaries and other entitlements. By this court and by section 254 of the constitution, it has the jurisdiction to adjudicate and to enforce any arbitrary award connected and arising from such disputes relating to non-payment of salaries, which is its exclusive right.
“The applications filed by the state government and Nassarawa United FC have therefore failed, and I hereby adopt the NFF Players Status/Arbitration Committee’s Award as judgement for this court.
“I hereby order the respondents (Nassarawa state government and Nassarawa United FC) to pay all the awardees their entitlements in fulfillment of the award on or before April 30, 2018.
“In the light of this the applicants have been granted leave to enforce this judgement from this date, ’’ the judge directed.
Speaking shortly after the judgement, Yirvoms and Hammache expressed satisfaction with the judgement, which they described as, “very sound and brilliant’’ and thanked God for giving the applicants victory at the end of the day after so much wait for justice to prevail.
Also responding, Usman, Counsel to the Nassarawa State Government, said, “We are bound by the judgement of the court, which was very sound.’’
“We shall, however, get the judgement, study it and see what next step we shall take if need be, ’’ the defence counsel said.