Wednesday, February 1, 2023 9:51 am
In a bid to recover an alleged debt of N343.6 million being statutory training contribution, Industrial Training Fund ITF and its Governing council have dragged a limited liability company, Net Construct Nigeria Limited before a Federal high court sitting in Lagos southwest Nigeria.
In an affidavit sworn to by a Senior Accountant working with the Industrial Training Fund Mr Stephen Adegbenjo and filed before a Federal high court in Lagos south west Nigeria by a Lagos lawyer Barrister Frank Eke, the deponent avers that the ITF is a Federal Government agency established under the Industrial Training Fund Act, Cap 19, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 as amended by the Industrial Training Fund Act No. 19 of 2011 with its headquarters in Miango Road, Jos, Plateau State
That the ITF is charged with the administering of Funds which shall be utilized to promote and encourage the acquisition of skills in industry or commerce to generate a pool of Nigerian indigenously economy-trained manpower sufficient to meet the needs of the Nigerian Economy.
The defendant, a real estate development company, as of the 26th day of June 2019, the defendant was indebted to the ITF in the sum of N343.6 million. Defendant has more than five employees in his establishment and by a statutory obligation is indebted to the Industrial Training Fund.
The Defendant has failed and refused to pay its indebtedness to the Plaintiffs for the years 2013 -2018. A verification exercise was carried out on the Defendant on the 26th day of June 2019 in accordance with the Industrial Training Fund Act Cap 19, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 as amended by the Industrial Training Fund Act No.19 of 2011and it was ascertained that the Defendant, owed the Plaintiffs an outstanding liability to the tune of N343,654,995.28.
A copy of the verified liability dated the 26th of June, 2019 was immediately forwarded to the Defendant as well as a demand letter dated the 15th of August, 2019. However, the defendant neglected, failed, or refused the plaintiffs the outstanding liability as demanded.
Following the said verification exercise, the ITF instructed its Counsel, Mr Frank Eke of Frank Eke & Co, to help recover the outstanding verified liability owed to the Plaintiffs by Defendant.
A letter dated 16th August 2019, was sent on behalf of the plaintiffs
by their legal representatives, Messrs Frank Eke & Co, to the Defendant, intimating the defendant of the outstanding verified liability to the tune of N343,654,995.28
Despite the aforementioned letter forwarded to Defendant by the Plaintiffs’ solicitors, the Defendant has failed, neglected and /or refused to liquidate its outstanding verified liability in respect of the verification
The Plaintiff’s claims against the Defendants are as follows:
The sum of N343.654,995.28 against the defendant being the total outstanding 2013-2018 verified liability in respect of the Statutory training contribution by the Industrial Training Fund Act Cap 19, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 as amended by the Industrial Training, Fund Act No.19 of 2011.
Five per cent monthly penalty for non-payment on every month of the aforementioned sum ought to have been paid from the 1st day of April 2013 until liquidation of the outstanding sum by the Industrial Training Fund Act Cap 19, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 as amended by the Industrial Training Fund Act No. 19 of 2011.
However, in its statement of defence filed before the court by its counsel Kennedy Nwaofor, the defendant denies every allegation of fact contained in the Plaintiffs’ affidavit in Support of its claim.
The defendant in response to the averments in the Affidavit in support avers that the Defendant is a limited liability company duly incorporated under the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with its head office located on the 3rd floor, Elizade House, Plot 596, Independence Avenue, Central Business District, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, and a branch office located at 2B Bankole-Oki Street, Ikoyi, Lagos State.
Defendant in further response to the averment contained in the Affidavit in support avers that the Defendant’s 2b Bankole Oki Street. Ikoyi. Lagos State branch office is outside the operational jurisdiction of the ITFs’ 18A Elsie Femi Pearse, Victoria Island, Lagos State office
The Plaintiffs’ 18A Elsie Femi Pearse, Victoria Island, Lagos State office does not have jurisdiction to collect statutory levies from employers operating within the location of the Defendant’s Ikoyi, Lagos State branch office
The Defendant’s head office at Abuja, Federal Capital Territory has been dealing with the Plaintiffs’ Abuja office since 2015 and has been paying its duly assessed statutory training contributions to the Plaintiff’s Abuja office since 2015.
Defendant denies that its years 2013 – 2014 statutory training contributions are outstanding, as its statutory contributions for years 2013 – 2015 were assessed by the Plaintiffs Abuja office in 2015 when they first started dealing with them, and the said statutory contribution for 2013 – 2014 was duly paid in 2015 along with the contributions for 2015 as assessed by the Plaintiffs Abuja office.
Defendant denies that its year’s 2016, 2017 and 2018 statutory training contributions are outstanding since its statutory training contributions for 2016 – 2018 were duly assessed by Plaintiff’s Abuja office and paid for by Defendant in Abuja.
The defendant denies that it is not indebted to the Plaintiffs in the sum of N343 654,995 .28 in statutory training contributions as of 26th June 2019
The Defendant’s Lagos branch office did not respond to the Plaintiff’s letters because its head office in Abuja has been dealing with the Plaintiffs Abuja office and the Defendant’s Ikoyi, Lagos State branch office falls outside the operational jurisdiction of the Plaintiffs Victoria Island, Lagos State office that issued the said letters.
Defendant avers that if it owed any outstanding training contribution to the Plaintiffs between the years 2013 to 2021 it would not have been issued a Certificate of Compliance by the Plaintiffs’ Abuja office. Whereupon the Defendant states that the claims in this suit are misconceived and brought in bad faith, an abuse of the proceedings of this court and same should be dismissed.
The presiding Judge, Nicholas Oweibo has adjourned for hearing.
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