By Odunewu Segun
MTN is facing another N4.83bn pay-out in compensation to a former employee following a ruling by the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Akure Division.
Paul Odunewu, a former Network Group Operations Manager for the telecom giant had dragged MTN before Justice Oyejoju Oyewunmi of the NICN for wrongful termination of employment.
In his ruling, Justice Oyewunmi ordered MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and MTN International, Mauritius to pay Odunewu, a sum of N4,825,036,735.9 as compensation for wrongful termination of employment, the telecom giant has given an indication to appeal the judgment.
But in a statement released by MTN’s General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Omasan Ogisi, the company 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.
The telco said it has observed substantial grounds of appeal which were critical elements of the case that were not, otherwise, fully considered by the lower court before taking its position.
Ogisi averred that “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”
While expressing her 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, she claimed that MTN has a tradition of treating all its employees fairly, as captured in the details of its employment contracts.
MTN is still smarting up from the N1.04 trillion imposed on it by the Nigerian Communications Commission in 2015 for failing to disconnect 5.1 million improperly registered telephone lines within the proscribed deadline.
The fine was later reduced by 25 per cent to N780 billion. But, MTN was later to take an action against the NCC at the Federal High Court in Lagos against the manner the fine was imposed, describing it as “not in accordance with the NCC’s powers under the Nigerian Communications Act”.
However, in February 2016, MTN announced the withdrawal of the case against the NCC and an initial “goodwill” payment of N50 billion to create a conducive atmosphere for further negotiations.
After nearly six months of negotiation, both sides agreed that MTN should pay only N330 billion from the N780 billion it was earlier reduced to. In line with terms of the resolution, the balance of N280 billion would be paid by MTN in six tranches between June 2016 and May 31, 2019.