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MR. EYO MOSES OGUNGWA & ORS v. MR. OLUROTIMI WILLIAMS & ANOR

(2019) LPELR-47536(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Tuesday, the 21st day of May, 2019

CA/C/251/2012


Before Their Lordships

MOJEED ADEKUNLE OWOADE Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

YARGATA BYENCHIT NIMPAR Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

MUHAMMED LAWAL SHUAIBU Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

1. MR. EYO MOSES OGUNGWA
2. MR. OKON EDET ETTA
3. MR. EWA HENSHAW
4. MR. NSA EFFANGA ITA
(For themselves and on behalf of 117 former staff of Eastern Match Industries Ltd and members of National Union of Chemicals, Footwear Rubber Leather and non-metallic Products Employees) - Appellant(s)

AND

1. MR. OLUROTIMI WILLIAMS
(Receiver of Eastern Match Industries Ltd)
2. SHANET WATCH INDUSTRIES LTD - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Civil Procedure.

FACTS:
This is an appeal against the decision of the High Court, Calabar, Cross River State delivered on 20th April, 2011.

The appellants herein are former staff of the Eastern Match Industries Limited and members of the National Union of Chemicals Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Product Union. The 1st respondent is a Lagos based legal practitioner who was appointed the receiver of Eastern Match Industries Ltd by Afribank Nigeria Plc. pursuant to the powers conferred on the Bank by a Deed of Mortgage Debenture dated 15/11/96 executed by the company in favour of International Bank for West Africa (IBWA) the predecessor of Afribank Nigeria Plc. The 2nd respondent is a match producing company that purchased the defunct Eastern Match Industries Ltd. from the 1st respondent.

???On 11/7/2002, the appellants were notified of the appointment of the 1st respondent as Receiver of Eastern Match Industries Ltd. and that arrangement was being made for payment of their outstanding entitlements. When the said entitlements were not paid, the appellants as plaintiffs, instituted suit No. HC/512/2002 at the High Court, Calabar, Cross River State claiming against the defendants (now respondents) jointly and severally as follows:-
1. A DECLARATION that the plaintiffs are entitled to be paid their outstanding salaries economic relief package (Adhoc), Annual leave grants, a leave days grants, housing allowances, transport allowances, gratuities and other end of service or disengagement benefits as provided for in their terms and condition of employment.
2. AN ORDER DIRECTING the defendants to forthwith pay to the plaintiffs the sum of N25,089,339.62 (Twenty-five Million, Eighty Nine Thousand, Three Hundred and Thirty Nine Naira, Sixty Two Kobo) only being their outstanding salaries allowances, gratuities and other entitlements due to the plaintiffs upon the termination of their contract of employment with Eastern Match Industries Limited.

When the matter came up on the 12/10/2009, learned trial judge based on what he described as "the interest of fairness and justice", formulated six (6) issues and asked parties to file further or additional address in that regard. Consequently, parties readopted their written address and in a reserved and considered judgment delivered on 20th April, 2011, learned trial Judge held that the claimants' case was tantamount to a misjoinder of parties and cause of action and thus entered judgment of non-suit with N1,000.00 cost to each defendant.

Being dissatisfied with the judgment, appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES:
The Court determined the appeal based on a sole issue thus:
1. Whether the learned trial judge was right when he held that the case of the claimants as constituted at the lower Court tantamount to a misjoinder of parties and causes of action in flagrant violation of Order 4 Rule 2 of the High Court of Cross Rivers State (Civil Procedure) Rules, 1987 which authorized joinder of parties and their respective or several causes of action?

DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the Court of Appeal held that the appeal was unmeritorious and it was accordingly dismissed in its entirety.


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