The National Industrial Court has issued a mandatory injunction directing the Nigerian Bottling Company Limited to give medical care to one of its employees, Abifarin Elijah, who sustained a spinal cord injury in the line of duty.
Justice Nelson Ogbuanya made the order following an application by the injured Syrup Process technician, through his lawyer, Olusola Jegede.
Elijah had, through Jegede, prayed the court to compel NBC to pay a minimum of $7,500 for the neurosurgery he was to undergo in Dubai, United Arab Emirate; and to also pay $48,455 for his flight, accommodation and ancillary needs in Dubai.
Jegede urged the judge to urgently grant the prayers, pending the determination of the substantive suit, stressing that “further delay of the treatment will be fatal.”
According to him, the injured NBC worker “currently makes use of a lumbar support and cannot sit, stand or walk for long.”
He told the judge that following the injury, Elijah was treated at the company’s two hospitals “but the defendant later instructed the two hospitals (Subol Hospital and Holy Trinity Hospital) to discontinue treatment, as the claimant was no longer covered by the defendant’s medical policy, and the hospitals stopped his treatment.”
He added, “Thereafter, the claimant resorted to personal funding of the treatment with support of family and friends, and he is finding it difficult to cope, and his life is endangered thereby.”
In his September 25, 2020, ruling, Justice Ogbuanya noted that despite evidence of being served repeatedly with hearing notices, the NBC took no steps to defend Elijah’s application.
The judge said, “I have given the defendant an opportunity to come and explain this stand it took, yet, it did not respond, despite being served with the originating processes and this Motion on Notice as well as Hearing Notices.
“I am satisfied that the claimant/applicant has set out a case deserving urgent intervention by this court, warranting granting of an interim measure by way of interlocutory mandatory injunction against the defendant/respondent herein.
“In the circumstance, this application succeeds to the extent that an interlocutory mandatory injunction is hereby granted, to the effect that the defendant/respondent is hereby ordered to take full responsibility of the medical treatment of the claimant/applicant, and ensure that his health condition does not deteriorate due to lack of adequate medical attention over his life-threatening severe spinal cord injury sustained while undertaking the assigned job by the defendant/respondent at its workplace, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit herein, which is set down for accelerated hearing.”
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