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Ex-staff slams N4billion suit on ExxonMobil over forceful retirement

A National Industrial Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, has dismissed the objection filed by a multinational Oil company, Exxonmobil Corporation and its parent body Mobil Producing Nigeria UnLimited against a N4billion suit instituted 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 15th February 2017 and December 2017, Mr.Ronald W. Romere, who had worked in Nigeria for so many years before being deployed in Iraq.
In a statement of fact filed before National Industrial court by a Lagos lawyer Mr Francis Chuka Agbu SAN, the ex -Exxonmobil corporation staff James Nwagbogwu 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.
In 2015 he was deployed to Dubai, the posting was to last till December 2017 but was forcefully redeployed back to Nigeria and retire because he refused to carry out dishonest actions that he was being compelled to do by the manager of ExxonMobil while on assignment in the United Arab Emirates and Iran. On his return to Nigeria, further punitive actions were taken against him leading him to his forced pre-mature retirement. Some of these actions were:
• The company attempted to compel him to employ unqualified Engineer.
• On several occasions attempt were made to compel him to sign off uncompleted and poorly executed project as completed.
• Several contract manipulations that were in breach of simple ethical guidelines.
• Deliberate over -scoping of several 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 contrary to, 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 was abruptly cut short.
• The company refused to ship many of his belongings and the one of his family members at the time he was returning to Nigeria.
Consequently, Mr Ebede is claiming the following sums of money:
• $40million as general damages for the emotional stress he has suffered.
• N114,992,096 being the equivalent of 32 months’ salary which defendant ought to pay 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 before the court 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.
In his response, Mr Agbu, SAN, contended that the company not only conducts its business in Nigeria by mean of subsidiaries, but also operates and directly in Nigeria as it holds operating interest in several Oil Mining Leases, OML. He, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the objection of the defendants.
In his ruling, the presiding Judge R. H. Gwandu while adjourning for hearing said “I hold that this court has the 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 defendant.”

About Demola Abimboye