Court orders Computer Coy to honour agreement, ‘settle’ apprentice

The National Industrial Court, on Thursday ordered a  company,  Arkgee Computers Ltd., to honour its  apprenticeship agreement with Yakubu Jeremond within 30 days. Delivering judgment, Justice Sanusi Kado, held that the agreement between the parties in the suit was not a contract of service nor contract for service but rather,  a contract of apprenticeship and was therefore, enforceable.

Justice Kado also ordered the company to rent a shop for a period of one year, and stock  up the hop with goods for the claimant. The court held that  Jeremond having served the firm for five years in line with the parties apprenticeship agreement,  was entitled to the settlement. The court in addition awarded with the sum of N500,000.00 as cost of action in his favour.

The court held that the refusal of the firm to settle Jeremond  on the ground that he breached the term of their apprenticeship agreement during the period of his apprenticeship was an afterthought as the terms of the apprenticeship agreement had been served. “The the burden of proof on the assertion that the claimant had settled himself and   the refusal of the firm to settle the him on the ground that he helped himself was an afterthought. “The terms of apprenticeship agreement having elapsed cannot be altered or reviewed by any of the parties“.

If the defendant want to repudiate the terms contained in the apprenticeship agreement, that can only be done if the agreement has not elapsed. The terms of apprenticeship agreement having been executed cannot be resuscitated”, the judge ruled. From facts, the claimant, Jeremond had submitted that he entered into an apprenticeship agreement with the firm to serve for a period of five years at the end of which he shall be settled with a  rented shop paid for by the defendant.

The claimant also averred that  as part of the said agreement, the shop was to be stocked with computer wares. He further said that he was made serve an extra period of 15 months after the expiration of the agreed five years. Jeremond said that the defendant finally told him he was entitled to any settlement as he had already settled himself in the cause of the five years. In defence,  the defendant maintained that the claimant   breached the  terms, obligations as  contained in the apprenticeship agreement and  was not entitled to any settlement and counterclaimed.

In addition, the defendant, through its counsel G.C Adiukwu objected that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit on the ground that the contract before the court was a contract for service. In opposition however,  the claimant’s counsel, T. H. Shabo, averred that the contract before the court for enforcement of apprenticeship agreement was a contract of service. Shabo equally said that the submissions of the defendant had  contradictions and urged the court to grant the reliefs sought. The court however in its judgment affirmed the jurisdiction of the court, dismissed the objection raised by defence. 

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