Firm’s objection to N4 billion suit dismissed
The National Industrial Court (NIC), Lagos has dismissed the objection filed by a multinational oil company, Exxonmobil Corporation and its parent body, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited against N4billion suit filed against the company by its ex-staff, Mr. James Nwagbogwu Ebede.
Joined as co-defendant is the Vice President and the overall executive officer of ExxonMobil Iraq Limited between February 15, 2017 and December, 2017. Mr. Ronald W. Romere, who had worked in Nigeria for so many years before being deployed to Iraq.
In a statement of fact filed before NIC by a Lagos lawyer Mr. Francis Chuka Agbu (SAN), the ex -Exxonmobil corporation staff,Ebede stated that he worked with the company from December, 2001 to 2018 as an engineer and because of his consistent excellent performances, he was at various times given important responsibilities.
The applicant said he was prematurely retired due to some disagreement with the firm.
He alleged that on several occasions, attempts were made to compel him to sign off uncompleted and poorly executed projects as completed, adding that several contracts were manipulated that were in breach of simple ethical guidelines, including deliberate over-scoping of projects with corrupt intentions to rig the bidding process and award projects at escalated prices running into several billions of dollars.
Because of his resistance, and in clear breach of the stipulations contained in the ExxonMobil Educational Assistance Supplementary, the company refused to reimburse him for the monies expended on settling his children’s school fees, refused to provide flight tickets for the return of his family members to Nigeria after his stay in Dubai.
The company refused to ship many of his belongings and those of his family members at the time he was returning to Nigeria.
Consequently, Mr. Ebede is claiming the sums of $40million as general damages for the emotional stress he has suffered, the sum of N114,992,096 being the equivalent of 32 months salary which defendant ought to have paid him for his forceful retirement.
He is also demanding published public apology in two daily newspapers and two international newspapers.
However, the defendants, in their preliminary objection filed by Mrs Abimbola Akeredolu (SAN), urged the court to decline jurisdiction to entertain the suit on the ground that the ExxonMobil company is an entity incorporated under the laws of the United States of America, therefore the Nigerian court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
But Agbu, in his submission contended that the company not only conducts its business in Nigeria by means of subsidiaries, but also operates in Nigeria as it holds operating interest in several Oil Mining Licences (OML), therefore urged the court to dismiss the objection of the defendants.
In his ruling, the trial Judge, R. H. Gwandu, said: “I hold that this court has jurisdiction to adjudicate on issues contained in the claimant’s suits both by subject matter and territory, the claimant having shown sufficient cause of action against the
He adjourned the matter to November 2019 for commencement of trial.