An Akure division of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, (NICN) has ordered MTN Nigeria Ltd and its counterpart in Mauritius to pay its former Group Operations Manager, Mr. Paul Odunewu the total sum of $13,419,728.54, £10,000 and N2,540,000, about N4, 825,036,735.9 for wrongful termination of his appointment.
His lordship, Justice Oyejoju Oyewunmi made the order on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 following Odunewu’s suit challenging his 2006 termination and the deprivation of his entitlements including share options valued at $13,144,512.00.
Justice Oyewunmi ordered that the sums be paid by the second and third defendants, “except the issue of costs which is to be paid by all the defendants. MTN South Africa; MTN Nigeria and MTN International, Mauritius were first, second and third defendants in the suit which initially commenced at the Lagos State High Court before moving to on the basis of jurisdiction.
The judge ordered MTN to make the payment in 30 days, after which it 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, thus preventing him from working for a period and 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 he ever summoned to a disciplinary committee or found guilty of any misconduct or non-performance.
Justice Oyewunmi observed that the defendants failed to controvert the testimony of a former MTN Chief Executive Officer, Mr Adrian Wood, regarding the offers made to Odunewu which persuaded him to quit his job in The United Kingdom and join MTN.
Odunewu, a UK-based chartered engineer, was employed by MTN Nigeria in 2001.