Court Orders MTN To Pay Sacked Nigerian Manager N4.83bn

The National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) in Akure has ordered MTN Nigeria Communications Limited & MTN International, Mauritius, to pay its sacked Network Group Operations Manager, Mr Paul Odunewu, $13,419,728.54, £10,000 & N2,540,000 (N4,825,036,735.9) over unlawful termination of employment.

Justice Oyejoju Oyewunmi made the order after Odunewu's brought a suit challenging his 2006 termination & the deprivation of his entitlements including share options valued at $13,144,512.

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

The court agreed with the submissions of Odunewu's lawyer, Mr Kemi Balogun, that MTN unlawfully imposed a restraint of trade on Odunewu, therefore preventing him from working for a period.

Justice Oyewunmi observed, among other things, that the defendants failed to contradict the testimony of an ex MTN Chief Executive Officer, Mr Adrian Wood, regarding the offers made to Odunewu which swayed him to quit his job in The United Kingdom & join MTN. Odunewu, a UK-based chartered engineer, was employed by MTN Nigeria in 2001.

He said MTN pleaded with him to return home from the United Kingdom & help the company to develop its telecommunications in Nigeria.

He maintained 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 convinced him to accept the job, adding that he would be entitled to the shares after 3 years.

Odunewu said he worked at MTN for over 4 years, & was responsible for the MTN's outstanding achievements, which continues till date.