Why Most Maltreated Nigerian Employees Never Take Legal Steps

February 11, 2021

Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.

As horrific as it may sound, enduring various levels of abuse and labour rights violations has become an almost essential part of what it means to be an employee in Nigeria. We see it in employees calling out their employers online over wilfully delayed salaries or for creating unfair working conditions.  While all of these cases are commonly accepted, they are also too rampant to ignore and so we spoke with legal experts to help unpack why mistreated Nigerian employees don’t often take legal steps against their employers.

  1. Nigeria’s Unaccommodating Labour Laws.
Who did we offend?

One of the reasons Ayomide Adebayo-Oyetoro, a legal practitioner we spoke with, cites is that Nigeria’s labour laws don’t have strong enforcement processes and are not designed to accommodate all types of workers in the country. “Because the labour laws in the country cannot be enforced on private organisations, it makes it hard for all employers to be obedient to it. So, while some private organisations have innovated and provide international labour standards to their employees, most have taken advantage of this lack of regulation and mistreat their staff without consequence.”

  1. Timeline Of The Case.

As Ms. Oyetoro also tells us, a case of this nature could take anything from one to 10 years to see through and so many maltreated employees feel discouraged to pursue this option. “Most of the judges are overworked. Very few courts to multitudes of people. Some lawyers use different frivolous petitions to delay court proceedings and frustrate you. By the time you finish, the party dissatisfied with the judgment can appeal And then you do the merry-go-round again,” she says.

  1. The High Cost Of Litigation.
Lol, what?

According to another legal expert we spoke to, one who prefers to stay anonymous, the cost of filing for cases like this should typically cost ₦1,000- ₦5,000, but people often find themselves spending way more than that. “Apart from the cost of filing fees, you’d have to bribe registrars to make sure your case gets a hearing date, you’d pay for each appearance in court, that’s aside from the lawyer’s professional fees. Officially, they aren’t usually expensive, unofficially, carry your ₦30,000 to ₦50,000. And this is just to get started,” they told us. “Also, each time you go to court, you have to pay the lawyer at least ₦10,000 to ₦20,000 for appearance fees. Whether or not the court sits.”

  1.  Employees Don’t Often Go Through Their Contract.

All the legal experts we spoke to all attest to the fact that employees don’t often read their contracts and thus have no idea whether or not they have a case, making them unsure whether or not to take legal steps, even when they feel violated. 

So What Can Employees Do When They Feel Violated?

Our legal experts recommend contacting a Lawyer whenever you feel violated by an employer, that way it is easier to ground your feelings in fact and pursue a case if you so wish. Ms. Oyetoro considers it extremely important to document. “Evidence is key,” she says. “Always document whatever ill doings you face at the hands of your employer and back it up on your personal mail or something. Whatever agreement you and your employer come to, make sure you get it on paper. Always make sure you have an offer letter/contract. You’d be surprised how employers would deny you if you don’t have any official links to them.”

Our legal experts also encourage you to go through your contract before signing it. “You can get a lawyer to do this for you for a fee,” Ms. Oyetoro tells us. “Go through your employment contracts before signing anything. It would shock you to know how many oppressive terms are often contained in those contracts that you won’t see because you are looking at your salary.”

But above all, Ms. Oyetoro believes that more can be done in terms of educating employees on their rights and setting up spaces where all workers in Nigeria are sufficiently protected. As she says, “If employees are educated, sensitised about their rights and remedies by NGOs, trade unions or organizations in various industry spaces, things would definitely be easier.” 

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

October 17, 2020

For over a week now, Nigerians have been deeply involved in what many would call the biggest movement to happen in the country in recent years. Fair enough because we’re fighting for our lives here. Social media has played an important role in amplifying the voices of Nigerians, giving the rest of the world an […]


Now on Zikoko

July 4, 2022

Lending people money can be very risky. You have to be ready to fight or say bye-bye to your money for the sake of peace. If you’ve already made the terrible mistake of giving out your hard-earned money, then you can never be too prepared for the process of getting it back. We put together […]

July 3, 2022

In this letter #ToHER, Tumi writes to one of her closest friends, Tolu. Tolu japa’d to America, and although she read this letter before travelling, Tumi wants everyone to know how special their friendship has been for her.

Recommended Quizzes

November 12, 2019

Are you a single pringle, stuck in a complicated situationship or happily married to the love of your life? This quiz is here to guess your current relationship status, and as you know, Zikoko quizzes are incredibly accurate (don’t quote us). So, give a shot:

November 22, 2019

It can be very stressful when you’re trying to find the love of your life, but you only keep meeting people that are exactly like your yeye ex. To help you be more aware of that problem, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know the kind of people you are attracting. Take it to […]

June 14, 2020

Have you ever been with someone so horrible that you swore to never date again? Yes? Well, do you know that one or more of your exes probably feels the same way about you? You never thought about that, huh? Thankfully, this quiz is here to let you know just how much of a hassle […]

November 14, 2019

The fourth season of Big Brother Naija came to an end over a month ago, but the conversation surrounding the housemates is far from over. So, in a bid to keep the fire burning, we decided to create a quiz that tells you which famous member of the ‘Pepper Dem’ gang is your soulmate. Take […]

What are you like in a relationship?
February 7, 2020

Your taste in music can say a lot about you, and this time, it’s going to reveal what you are like in a relationship. So, pick a few of your favourite Nigerian love songs, and we’ll let you know if you’re typically a distant, passionate or unbothered partner. Here you go:

More from Citizen


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.