Court summons ex-MTN CEO over N1.8b suit | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Court summons ex-MTN CEO over N1.8b suit

Posted: Apr 29, 2015 at 2:50 am   /   by   /   comments (0)
*Adrian Wood

*Adrian Wood

By Tunde Opeseitan



The National Industrial Court (NIC) has ordered a former Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, Adrian Wood to appear before it to testify in a suit by MTN’s former Network Group Operation Manager, Paul Odunewu.

The court also issued a subpoena on one Sifiso Dabengwa, an expatriate staff of MTN based in South Africa.

Odunewu is demanding N1.8billion for alleged wrongful termination of his contract by MTN.

MTN Group Limited, South Africa; MTN Nigeria and MTN International, Mauritius are the other defendants.

He accused the company of withholding his entitlements, including a share option worth over $13.14 million (about N2.1 billion).

A former Chief Technical Officer of MTN Nigeria, Ademola Eleso, while testifying at the trial, accused MTN of deceiving its workers.

He said MTN lured Odunewu, a renowned telecoms engineer based abroad, to work for it in Nigeria, promising to make him a shareholder, only to end up withdrawing the offer.

Eleso said he hired Odunewu on MTN’s behalf. He told MTN’s Human Resources (HR) Department that for Odunewu to be happy to join the company and stay, he should be entitled to long-term incentive package. The witness said he also told Odunewu that he would have a key position.

According to him, in the early days of MTN’s operations, there was a “strategic imperative” to employ high cadre candidates who would help the company grow in all facets.

“I was asked to help source for such people and make sure they came to MTN Nigeria and not Econet because of competition.

“In recognition of that it was understood that certain employees would necessarily have extra-ordinary remuneration package and stock option in order to make MTN an attractive proposition for the candidates of which CW1 (Odunewu) was one and that was my discussion with HR,” he said.

Eleso said Odunewu later complained to him that the share option was not specified in his appointment letter, adding that there were other members of staff whose letters did not contain it.

“The HR verbally communicated to the staff that when the company is well established, they would be eligible to the stock option,” he said.

Eleso insisted that Odunewu was entitled to the share option even though it was not all employees who were entitled to the scheme.