MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and MTN International, Mauritius, have been ordered by the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), Akure Division, to within 30 days pay its former Network Group Operations Manager, Mr. Paul Odunewu, the sum of $13,419,728.54, £10,000 and N2, 540,000.
The sum when totaled amounts to N4, 825,036,735.9.
MTN is to pay the huge sum of money to Odunewu for having wrongfully terminated his employment in 2006.
Odunewu had approached NICN to challenge his sack and the company’s denial to pay his entitlements including share options valued at $13,144,512.00.
In his suit, which has lasted about 10 years moving from the Lagos State High Court to the NICN, MTN Group Limited, South Africa; MTN Nigeria and MTN International, Mauritius were first, second and third defendants.
Ruling on the matter during the week, Justice Oyejoju 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..”
According to the judge, MTN must make the payments within 30 days, or it would appreciate by 21 per cent interest per annum if the company fails to fulfill payment as at the date ordered by the court.
The judgment came after the court agreed with the submissions of Odunewu’s counsel, Mr Kemi Balogun (SAN), who had accused MTN of unfairly imposing a restraint of trade on Odunewu, by so doing, preventing him from working for a period.
Justice Oyewunmi upheld Balogun’s submission that the evidence indicated that Odunewu neither committed any serious, persistent breach of the provisions of the agreement or the company’s code, nor was he ever invited to a disciplinary committee or found guilty of any misconduct or non-performance.
Among other things, the judge said that the defendants were unable to controvert the testimony of a former MTN Chief Executive Officer, Adrian Wood, regarding the offers made to Odunewu which swayed him to quit his job in the United Kingdom and join MTN.
Odunewu was a chartered engineer based in the UK before he was employed by MTN Nigeria in 2001. He had claimed that the company pleaded with him to return home from the UK and help it develop its telecommunications facilities in Nigeria.