ITF Battles NET Construct Company Over Unpaid Statutory Training Contribution
In a bid to recover an alleged debt of N343,654,995.28 being statutory training contribution,Industrial training Fund ITF and it’s Governing council have dragged a limited liability company NET CONSTRUCT NIGERIA LIMITED before a Federal high court sitting in Lagos south west 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 Fund which shall be utilized to promote and encourage the acquisition of skills in industry or commerce with a view to generating a pool of Nigerian indigenously economy trained manpower sufficient to meet the needs of the Nigerian Economy.
The defendant, a real estate development company, and as at the 26th day of June, 2019, the defendant was indebted to the ITF in the sum of N343,654,995.28.
The Defendant has more than five employees in his establishment and by virtue of 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 June, 2019 was immediately forwarded to the Defendant as well as a demand letter dated 15th 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 the Plaintiffs by the 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
In spite of the aforementioned letter forwarded to the 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 Plaintiffs 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 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 2011.
5% monthly penalty for non-payment on every month the aforementioned sum ought to have been paid from the 1st day of April 2013 until liquidation of the outstanding sum 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 2011.
However,in it’s statement of defence filed before the court by its counsel Kennedy Nwaofor,the defendant denies each and every allegation of fact contained in the Plaintiffs’ affidavit in Support of it’s 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 at 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.
The Defendant in further response to the averment contained in the Affidavit in support avers that the Defendant’s 2b Bankole OkiStreet. 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 have been dealing with the Plaintiffs’ Abuja office since 2015 and have been paying its duly assessed statutory training contributions to the Plaintiffs Abuja office since 2015.
The Defendant denies that it’s year’s 2013 – 2014 statutory training contributions are outstanding,as its statutory contributions for year’s 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 were duly paid in 2015 along with the contributions for 2015 as assessed by the Plaintiffs Abuja office.
The Defendant denies that it’s year’s 2016, 2017 and 2018 statutory training contributions are outstanding,since its statutory training contributions for 2016 – 2018 were duly assessed by the Plaintiffs Abuja office and paid for by the 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 at 26th June 2019
The Defendant’s Lagos branch office did not respond to the Plaintiffs letters because its head office at 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.
The Defendant avers that if it owed any outstanding training contribution to the Plaintiffs between 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 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.