REPRESENTATION ORCHARDSON UMOH ESQ. for the claimant No appearance for the defendants JUDGEMENT The Claimant instituted this action via a General Form of Complaint dated and filed on16th July, 2013 along with the Statement of Facts, Claimant’s Statement on Oath, and List of Documents, claiming against the defendants as follows: 1. An order directing the 1st and 2nd defendants to pay to the claimant, forthwith, all his salary arrears amounting to One Million Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (#1,350,000) being his outstanding salary unpaid as at 30th June, 2013. 2. An order directing the 1st – 2nd defendants to pay to the claimant forthwith, the sum of One Hundred and Fifteen Thousand Naira (#115,000) being balance of cost of diesel supplied to the said defendants through the claimant. 3. Interest on the total amount of One Million Four Hundred and Sixty Five Thousand Naira (#1,465,000.00) at 205 per annum pending the determination of this case. The claimants case on the record is that he was employed by the 1st defendant as a security officer in February 2009 on a salary of N20,000.00 and the 2nd defendant was the last of many managers of the 1st defendant. That in March 2010 his salary was increased to N30, 000.00 but he was not paid his March 2010 salary but received his salary for the months of April and May 2010. The claimant was further owed salaries from June 2010 till March 2011. Following entreaties from the 1st defendants owner the claimant remained whilst all other security officers left due to the non-payment of outstanding salaries. The 1st defendants then increased his salary to N50, 000.00. At this time the claimant was the sole security officer employed at the defendants premises. This state affair continued until November 2011 and with the Police intervention the defendants paid the claimant N30, 000.00 a month’s salary and then paid the claimant his outstanding salaries up until March 2011. The defendants systematically started selling off their equipment admits protests from the claimant that he was still being paid, the 1st defendant assured him by telephone that as soon as the prospective buyer move the equipment and pay for it he would be paid, the claimant then allowed the separate buyer remove the equipment, this state of affairs continued the claimant realizing that the defendants were systematically selling off the company’s equipment but still refusing to pay him instituted this action for his outstanding salaries and the sum of N215,000.00 being the cost of diesel he had guaranteed from the dealers which the defendants have refused to pay. The defendants filed a statement of Defence on the 6th of March 2014 with a counterclaim STATEMENT OF DEFENCE The case of the defendants on the pleadings are that the claimant was rather employed in November, 2008 and not February, 2009 alongside some other security officers in November, 2008 on a salary of #12,865.00 per month and not #20,000.00 as alleged by the claimant and that the 2nd defendant Is not a manager but is the account/commercial officer of the 1st defendant. Defendants maintain that the claimant abandoned the employment of the 1st defendant, the 1st defendant had never owed the claimant any salary. The defendants admitted that the claimant was promoted to the position of Chief Security Officer and his salary increased from #12,865.00 not but from #20,000.00 to #30,000.00 per month from March, 2011. Averring that the claimant’s salary was never increased from #30,000.00 to #50,000.00 and that the sum of One Million Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira is unknown to the 1st & 2nd defendants. The defendants denied that the 2nd defendant never at any point in time pay the claimant a total lump sum of #330,000.00 as outstanding salaries as the claimant was receiving his salaries regularly. The Defendants deny that Mr. Jacobs was at any point in time called or approached the claimant to plead with the claimant to supply diesel or get any diesel supplier or dealer within the community to supply diesel to the 1st defendant. And concluded their pleadings with a denial of all liabilities to the claimant in terms stated in paragraph 36 (i) (iii) of the claimant’s Statement of Facts contending that they, the defendants were entitled to award of cost for this unnecessary suit. The defendants also filed a counterclaim on the basis that;- the claimant who is the Chief Security Officer in charge of safety of goods and equipment in the 1st defendant’s quarry site, keeping inventory records and giving inventory reports and that the claimant had refused to give inventory report of goods, equipment, materials and services; rather he absconded from his duties and brought this spurious and misleading suit. WHEREOF the defendants as counter-claimants, claim against the claimant as follows: 1. An order that the claimant give a comprehensive inventory report on materials, machinery and tools. Mechanical and electrical plants and equipment in the 1st defendant’s quarry site. 2. One Million Naira cost for unnecessarily bringing this suit and wasting the time of the defendants. This matter was first came up before this very court on the 4th November 2014 for hearing de nova with the claimant counsel present and no appearance for the defendants, hearing Notices were ordered for service of the defendants. The case was adjourned for two more consecutive dates with no defence counsel, when the court granted the claimants application to prove the claimant case pursuant to Order 19 rule 2 of the National Industrial Court Rules 2007. On 26th February 2005 claimant testified as CW adopted his statement on oath and proceeded to tender three exhibits 1. Witness Statement on Oath dated 16th July 2013 - Exhibit C1 2. Handwritten Letter dated 13th June 2013 - Exhibit C2 3. Complimentary Card of Kafalu Global Services - Exhibit C3 4. Letter (query)threat to life dated 19th June 20113 - Exhibit C4 The case was thereafter adjourned for cross examination. On the 23rd June 2015 the defendants counsel announced that he no longer had the instruction of the defendants and subsequently hearing notices were served on the defendants. On 22nd October the claimants adopted their final written address and adumbrated accordingly and the case was adjourned for judgement The claimant’s final written address was dated and filed on 28th September, 2015. Learned Counsel Orchardson Umoh for the claimant contended that this Court has no alternative than to grant the reliefs sought by the claimant against the defendants under the circumstances as the claimant’s evidence in support of his case has not been controverted in any manner by the defendants as this Court cannot make out a case or defence for the defendants. He submitted further that pleadings cannot constitute evidence and a defendant who does not give evidence in support of his pleadings or in challenge of the evidence of the claimant is deemed to have accepted the facts adduced by the claimant notwithstanding his general traverse. D.D.C. v. LADIPO (1971) 1 ALL NLR; J.O.O. IMANA v. ROBINSON (1979) 3-4 S.C. 9-10; F.C.D.A. v. ALHAJI MUSA NAIBI Suit No. 190/1989 decided on 18th May, 1990, per Augustine Nnamani, JSC. Submitting further that the averments and evidence of the claimant which were neither challenged or controverted by his adversary are deemed admitted and the Court must act on those undisputed averments as being true. YAR’ADUA & ORS. v. YANDOMA & ORS. (2014) 11-12 MJSC 131 @ 179, G; NIG. BOTTLING CO. PLC v. UBANI (2013) 12 MJSC (PT. 1) 1 @ 32, G; BALOGUN v. AMUBIKAHUN (1985) 3 NWLR (PT. 2). And that it is only when issues are truly joined and evidence controverted that a burden is said to have shifted to the claimant to lead more evidence that what is presented. ADEKEYE v. ADESINA (2010) 125 S.C. (PT. 1) 1; OJIOGO v. OJIOGO (2010) 3-5 SC (PT. 11) 1; YARE v. N.S.W. INC. COM (2013) 6-7 MJSC (PT. 1) 1 @ 16-17. The claimant counsel argues that an uncontroverted evidence of a witness where the witness was not cross-examined as in the instant case, is binding as it amounts to an admission. YISI NIG. LTD. v. TRADE BANK PLC (2013) 2-3 MJSC (PT. IV) 472 @ 487. And that the defendant had abandoned its defence and could not be taken to have disputed the head of the claimant’s claim as the claim remains unchallenged, thus, it is taken as pleaded and proved. OANDO PLC v. ADIWERE W/A LTD (2013) 5-7 MJSC (PT. 11 40 @ 96. The Court’s Decision I have heard all the arguments, submissions, contentions raised by the claimant and have considered all the authorities cited by counsel from the claimant, all of which have been duly incorporated in this decision and reference shall only be made thereto where necessary. Before I delve into the merit of the claimant’s case it is necessary to clary the premise of the claimant that this Court has no alternative than to grant the reliefs sought by the claimant against the defendants as the claimant’s evidence has not been controverted. Now, considering, as stated earlier that the defendants did not defend this action or call any evidence. Technically, therefore, this case approximates to one that is undefended but it must be pointed out that the defendant had ample the opportunity to defend this action but chose not to, in this regard I agree with the submission of the claimants that the averments in the statement of fact, the proof of evidence in the nature of his oral testimony and documents frontloaded and admitted in this case must be taken as uncontroverted. See MR. THOMAS OLUKAYOKE & ORS Vs. TIMBUKTU MEDIA LTD. (unreported) NICN/LA/25/201 1 delivered 6th March 2013. Although the defendants filed a statement of defence without more, as also stated above, bearing in mind that the position of the law is that Fact pleaded in respect of which no evidence was led go to know issue. DR A.O.OLALEKAN VS. MANAGEMENT BOARD UNI-MAID TEACHING HOAPITAL 2012 LPELR 20099 CA. The effect of the failure of a party to call evidence in defence of a claim is that he is presumed to have admitted the case made against him by the other party and the trial court has no choice than to accept the unchallenged and uncontroverted case place before it by the claimant. See IFETA VS. SHELL PETROLLEUM DEVELOPMET CORPORATION OF NIGERIA  VOL. 6 MJSC, CONSOLIDATED RES LTD. VS. ABOFAR VENTURES NIG.  6NWLR (PT. 1030) 221 AND OKOLIE VS. MARINHO  15 NWLR (PT. 1002) 316. But this, however, does not mean an automatic victory for the Claimant because he must succeed on the strength of his own case and not rely on the weakness of the defendants case or the fact that there is no defence placed before the court. BENJAMIN BILLE VS. MULTILINKS LTD. NICN/LA/175/2011 (UNREPORTED) DELIVERED 6TH JULY 2012. The absence of evidence by the defence does not exonerate the claimant the burden of proof placed on him. See SECTION 131(1) AND (2) EVIDENCE ACT 2011, OGUNYADE VS. OSHUNKEYE  15 NWLR (PT. 1057). The claimant must adduce evidence worthy of belief as evidence does not become credible merely because it is unchallenged. AKALONU Vs. OMOKARO 8NWLR (Pt.821) 190. Uncontroverted evidence does not in any way take way the duty imposed on the claimant to prove his case in accordance with the minimum evidence rule. In A.G. OSUN STATE Vs. NLC (OSUN STATE COUNCIL) & 2 ORS (unreported) NICN/LA/275/2012 delivered 19th December 2012 this court held as follows;- “Order 9 of the National Industrial Court Rules 2007 enjoins a party served with a complaint and accompanying originating processes and who intends to file a defence process as provided therein. Order 9 therefore recognizes the right of a defendant not to defend an action filed against him or her. And by order 19 rule 2 where the defendant is absent at the trial and no good reason is shown for the absence, the claimant may prove his/ her case as far as the burden of proof lies on him upon her. This Rule, of course accords with the minima evidential requirement, which is to the effect that a plaintiff cannot assume that he is entitled to automatic judgement just because the other party did not adduce evidence before the trial court as held in LAWRENCE AZENABOR Vs. BAYEREO UNOVERSITY KANO  25 NLLR (PT. 70) CA at 69 and OGUNYADE Vs. OSUNKEYE supra at 247” Mindful of this position of law I shall now proceed to deal with merits of this case in order to determine whether the minimum evidentiary value/burden of proof has been met I shall need to look at the evidence before the court against the reliefs sought by the Claimant The rule of thumb in evaluating the claimants evidence is as follows;- “The law is that the facts elicited from the evidence of the plaintiff should so preponderate in favour of the claims that the court should on balance decide in his favour'' Per PATS-ACHOLONU, J.S.C in OBASI BROTHERS MERCHANT COMPANY LTD. Vs. MERCHANT BANK OF AFRICA SECURITIES LTD.(2005) LPELR-2153(SC) (P. 9, paras. A-B). The claimant is seeking the following reliefs;- 1. An order directing the 1st and 2nd defendants to pay to the claimant, forthwith, all his salary arrears amounting to One Million Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (#1,350,000) being his outstanding salary unpaid as at 30th June, 2013. 2. An order directing the 1st – 2nd defendants to pay to the claimant forthwith, the sum of One Hundred and Fifteen Thousand Naira (#115,000) being balance of cost of diesel supplied to the said defendants through the claimant. 3. Interest on the total amount of One Million Four Hundred and Sixty Five Thousand Naira (#1,465,000.00) at 205 per annum pending the determination of this case. Relief one is for a direction of this court that the defendants pay the claimant his outstanding salaries from March 2011 up until 30th June 2013 which is a period of 2 years and 4 months. At N50, 000. =50,000 x 26 = N1, 300,000.00, In support of this claim the claimant did not tender any evidence of his salary increase to N50, 000.00 despite the defendants rebuttal of this amount in the defendants statement defence. In response of the defendants averment that the claimant had been paid his salaries as and when due, was not owed any salaries at all and went on to frontloading copies of receipts purportedly signed by indicating various payments made to the claimant as salaries during the period under review. Now, in this court all front loaded documents are deemed admitted unless specifically objected to in which case the probity of the documents would then be considered. See KURT SEVERINSEN V. EMERGING MARKETS TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICES LIMITED  27 NLLR (PT. 78) 374 at 454, and sections 36 and 37 of the Trade Disputes Act 2004, section 12 of the National Industrial Court Act 2006 The claimant in his reply statement of defence called out the defendants documents as forgeries and stated therein the Particulars of forgery By denying signing for salaries for the months of January 2012-june 2013, stating that his salay at that time was N50, 000.00 and claiming the signature on the defendants frontloaded documents as being forged the claimant went on to put the defendants on notice to produce the original for court inspection and determination. The rule of traverse is that in the law of pleading a defendant who does not admit any fact in the plaintiff’s pleadings must specifically deny same. General or evasive denial does not amount to a denial. To constitute an effective and sufficient denial of an averment in the statement of claim or petition, the denial must be apt, precise, succinct, full and complete and not evasive, rigmarole, vague and bogus. See EL-TIJANI V. SAIDU  1 NWLR (PT. 268) 246. Also, a mere denial of a detailed, factual situation without attacking the veracity or authenticity of details contained therein is in law not a denial. See JACOBSON ENGINEERING LTD V. UBA LTD  3 NWLR (PT. 283) 586. A traverse that the “1st defendant denies paragraph 22 of the statement of claim but shall at the trial require the plaintiff to strictly prove the averments contained therein” does not amount to a denial for the purpose of raising an issue for trial. See LEWIS & PEAT (NRI) LTD V. AKHIMIEN  1 ALL NLR (PT. 1) 460, UBA LTD V. EDET  4 NWLR (PT. 287) 188, OHIARI V. AKABEZE  2 NWLR (PT. 221) 1 and LSDPC V. BANIRE  5 NWLR (PT. 243) 620. Furthermore, a general traverse to the effect that the defendant denies certain paragraphs of the statement of claim without making specific response to those paragraphs does not constitute sufficient denial and have been held to amount to admission. See DIKWA V. MODU  3 NWLR (PT. 280) 170 AND SANUSI V. MAKINDE  5 NWLR (PT. 343) 214. Further still, an averment in a statement of defence that the defendant puts the plaintiff to proof or does not admit the correctness of a particular allegation in the statement of claim without more has been held to be insufficient denial. See EKWEALOR V. OBASI  2 NWLR (PT. 131) 231 AND IDAAYOR V TIGIDAM  7 NWLR (PT. 377) 359. See also this Court’s decision IN MR. JEZREEL ELO MAYOR V. ECO EXIM ALLIED LIMITED & ANOR UNREPORTED SUIT NO. NICN/LA/651/2013 the judgment of which was delivered on October 29, 2014 where these authorities were cited and the principles they enunciate applied. In the instant case the defendant have would have successfully denied the claimant claim for N50, 000 by presenting evidence that the claimant had signed for the sums of N30, 000.00 evidence in their frontloaded documents but for the court to rely on them in the circumstances the court would have to satisfy itself as to the authenticity of the document’s. Having be called out as forgery the court would be required to determine this before any weight could be ascribed to the defendants documents so as to rebut the claimants evidence. In the circumstances the defendant having not been present in court to be cross examined on these documents and having not producing the originals has failed to produce the evidence required raises the presumption of Section 167d of the evidence act which I find would resolve in the claimants favour. In the absence of any reliable contrary evidence I find that the claimant relief 1 succeeds as far as the court has determined. Relief two is for an order that the 1st – 2nd defendants to pay to the claimant forthwith, the sum of One Hundred and Fifteen Thousand Naira (#115,000) being balance of cost of diesel supplied to the said defendants through the claimant. The claimant had averred that the defendants had pleaded with him to arrange with dealers in the community to supply diesel who were to be paid for the diesel as soon as work started, and with his intervention diesel worth N215, 000.00 was supplied to the defendant. The claimant further averred that the defendant had paid off part of the diesel sum leaving a balance of N115, 000.00. It is this N115, 000.00 that the claimant is seeking in relief 2. Now, the position of the law is that jus terti the right of a third party cannot be used to sustain a claim. In other word the claimant cannot sue to enforce the right of another person. See the case of UGORJI Vs. ONWU  3 NWLR (Pt. 178) 177 .The claimant, beyond being the an intermediary between the defendants and the dealer, has not shown the to the court how he is entitled to this sum of N115, 000.00. For that reason relief 2 must fail, Relief 2 is consequently dismissed. Relief 3 is for Interest on the total amount of One Million Four Hundred and Sixty Five Thousand Naira (#1,465,000.00) at 20% per annum pending the determination of this case. This Court does not grant pre-judgment interest. See KURT SEVERINSEN V. EMERGING MARKETS TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICES LIMITED supra. For this reason, the claimant is not entitled to relief 3. Relief 3 is accordingly dismissed. For avoidance of doubt the claimant case succeeds but only as regards relief and thus far only. 1. It is hereby ordered that the 1st and 2nd defendants to pay to the claimant the sum of One Million Three Hundred Thousand Naira (#1,350,000) only, being his unpaid salary arrears for the months of March 2011 to 30th June, 2013. 2. Cost off tis suit is put at N50, 000.00 3. All sums payable within 60 days of this judgment thereafter to attract an interest of 10% per annum until liquidation. This is the Court’s Judgment Judgement is hereby entered accordingly. …………………………………… Honourable Justice E. N. Agbakoba Presiding Judge Calabar Division.