MTN challenges award of N4.8bn to former manager


MTN has challenged the award of $13,419,728.54, £10,000 and N2,540,000 (totalling N4, 825,036,735.9) to its former Network Group Operations Manager, Paul Odunewu, by the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NIC).

This was contained in a statement made available to on Saturday.

Justice Oyejoju Oyewunmi of the NIC, Akure Division, had on Wednesday ordered the telecommunications firm to pay the amount to Mr. Odunewu for “wrongful termination of employment”.

The judge ordered MTN to make the payments within 30 days following which the sums would appreciate at 21 percent interest per annum.

MTN Group Limited, South Africa; MTN Nigeria and MTN International, Mauritius were first, second and third defendants respectively in the suit which lasted 10 years from the Lagos State High Court to the NIC.

“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,” MTN said in its statement on Saturday.

“The court’s position has been reviewed by our internal and external counsel. Following that review, we have approached a higher court requesting that the decision of the industrial court be set aside.

“We believe that there are critical elements of our case which were not fully considered by the lower court before taking its position. We are confident that the outcome at the superior court will be different and that justice will not only be done but will be seen to be done in this case.

“MTN is committed to a policy of openness, integrity, diligence and professionalism in the conduct of business – with customers, shareholders and each other.”

Odunewu’s counsel, Mr. Kemi Balogun (SAN), claimed that MTN imposed a restraint of trade on his client, thus preventing him from working for a period.

He argued that the former manager 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.

MTN, however, stated that “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.

“We, therefore, maintain that we treat all our employees fairly, as captured in the details of our employment contracts, signed and legally binding.

“This situation was no different. The most basic commitment we make – to our customers, our shareholders, and each other – is to conduct ourselves in an ethical, honest and respectful manner”.

The Supreme Court of Nigeria had in June given a verdict allowing aggrieved parties to challenge the decision of the NIC at the Court of Appeal.