MTN to Appeal Court Order over N4.8Bn Compensation to Ex-Employee
MTN Nigeria Communications Limited has said it will appeal at the higher court for justice to be served in the case between the company and a former employee, Paul Odunewu.
The National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), Akure, in a judgement by Justice Oyejoju Oyewunmi, had ordered MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and MTN International, Mauritius to pay the former Network Group Operations Manager, Odunewu, a sum of $13,419,728.54, £10,000 and N2,540,000 (totalling N4, 825,036,735.9) following alleged wrongful termination of employment.
In a statement on Monday, the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, MTN Nigeria, Omasan Ogisi, said following the review by the company’s legal partners, it had approached a higher court requesting that the decision of the industrial court be set aside.
Ogisi stated that the telecoms company noticed that there were critical elements of the case, which were not fully considered by the lower court before taking its position.
“We can confirm that the National Industrial Court took a position, which we consider detrimental to our interests in a suit filed by a former employee. The court’s position has been reviewed by our internal and external counsels,” Ogisi said.
She added that the company was confident that the outcome at the superior court would be different and that justice would not only be done, but would be seen to be done in the case.
Ogisi continued that MTN treats all its employees fairly, as captured in the details of its employment contracts, signed and legally binding.
According to her, “Our Code of Conduct stipulates high labour standards regarding all our employees. In addition we have processes in place to ensure that we act in accordance with international standards and local laws. She said
She added that the situation is no different as the most basic commitment MTN made to customers, shareholders, and workers is to conduct itself in an ethical, honest and respectful manner.
The judge ordered MTN to make the payments within 30 days following which the sums would appreciate at 21 percent interest per annum.
In reaching judgment, the court agreed with the submissions of Odunewu’s counsel, Mr Kemi Balogun (SAN) that MTN unfairly imposed a restraint of trade on Odunewu, therefore preventing him from working for a period.
The judge upheld Mr Balogun’s submission that the evidence showed that Odunewu neither committed any serious, persistent breach of the provisions of the agreement or the company’s code, nor was ever summoned to a disciplinary committee or found guilty of any misconduct or non-performance.
Odunewu said MTN pleaded with him to return home from the UK and help the company to develop its telecommunications in Nigeria. He averred that he was promised, among others, a Share Option, a long-term incentive scheme being developed by MTN. Odunewu said when he complained that the Share Option was not contained in his offer letter, MTN persuaded him to accept the job, adding that he would be entitled to the shares after three years.
He added that he worked at MTN for over four years, and was responsible for the network’s outstanding achievements, which continues till date. The former manager said he was responsible for the company’s pre-paid and post-paid revenue, subscription, voucher management and real-time charging.
The case was brought before 2007 before the High Court of Lagos State in2007 but later transferred to and began afresh at NICN which had exclusive jurisdiction. Trial commenced on January 29, 2014.