The National Industrial Court (NIC) sitting in Lagos, in a suit filed by Mr. Paul Arinze for wrongful termination of employment by Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN) on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 delivered a Ruling on an application filed by ExxonMobil Corporation seeking to strike out its name from the suit.
The Honourable Justice Obaseki-Osaghae in her Ruling had held that ExxonMobil Corporation was a necessary party.
The Claimant, Mr. Paul Arinze who worked for Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited had filed a suit for wrongful termination of employment and joined ExxonMobil Corporation, a foreign company located in the United States to the suit. Consequently, ExxonMobil Corporation had briefed its Counsel Professor Fabian Ajogwu SAN to object to the jurisdiction of the Court. ExxonMobil Corporation claims amongst others were that the Claimant never had any employment contract, express or implied with it.
At the hearing of the preliminary objection to the National Industrial Court’s jurisdiction on March 9, 2020, Professor Fabian Ajogwu, SAN had urged the Court to strike out from the suit, the name of ExxonMobil Corporation on the grounds, amongst others, that ExxonMobil Corporation was not the employer of the Claimant and never had any employment contract signed between it and Mr. Arinze, and that it was not the direct parent company of MPN.
The National Industrial Court in its Ruling disagreed with ExxonMobil’s position and held that ExxonMobil is a necessary party to the suit it, and adjourned for trial of the suit or report of settlement to November 9, 2020.
Dissatisfied with the Ruling of the Court, ExxonMobil Corporation had immediately approached the Court of Appeal, Lagos and filed a Motion for Leave to Appeal against the entirety of this decision to the Court of Appeal.
ExxonMobil believes that there are strong grounds for the Court of Appeal to upturn the decision of the NIC. It contends amongst others that the lower Court erred when it held that a co-employment relationship existed between ExxonMobil and Mr. Paul Arinze, (the 1st Respondent) without recourse or reference to any extant contract of employment between the parties, that it is only the State High Court that is clothed with the exclusive jurisdiction to hear matters arising out of the interpretation/ enforcement of a simple contract.
The Court of Appeal is yet to give a date for the hearing of the application for leave to Appeal. At the NIC, the Claimant, Mr Arinze was represented by Mr. Emeka Ozoani, SAN.