By Sandra Umeh
Mr Emeka Ozoani, on Monday lauded a court ruling which upheld joining of Exxon Mobil Corporation in a suit challenging alleged unlawful retirement of an executive of Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN).
Ozoani told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the ruling had erased doubts that the multinational company could be sued in Nigeria.
He said that the court decision would help to ensure that employees would not suffer injustice on technical grounds.
The senior advocate spoke with NAN following a ruling of the National Industrial Court in Lagos, which described as proper, joining of Exxon Mobil Corporation in a suit challenging alleged unlawful retirement of Mr Paul Arinze from MPN.
The ruling was delivered by Justice O. A. Obaseki-Osaghae.
Obaseki-Osaghae had in an 11-page ruling on an application by Exxon Mobil counsel, Mr Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), held that the corporation was a neccesary party to the suit and had been properly joined by the claimant – Arinze.
The judge dismissed an application by the corporation’s counsel seeking to strike out its name from the suit.
“It is clear from the claims and the pleadings that the case against the second defendant falls within the jurisdiction of this court, and there is no condition precedent preventing the claimant access to the court in respect of his alleged forceful termination of employment.
”I hold that the second defendant is a necessary party and has been properly joined; this court is not deprived of jurisdiction to hear and determine the complaint against the second defendant,” the judge had ruled on Sept. 29.
He ordered that the case should proceed to substantive hearing, and awarded a cost of N30,000 in favour of the claimant.
Exxon Mobil Corporation is an American oil giant and parent company of MPN.
In the suit, the claimant joined Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited and Exxon Mobil Corporation as the first and second defendants, respectively.
Ozoani, who is Arinze’s counsel, had argued that Exxon Mobil was not a stranger to the employment of his client and that the claimant could sue it for any liability arising from any default or wrong done to him in the course of his employment.
He sumbitted that the claimant was holding the first and second defendant liable for his alleged unlawful retirement.
According to him, it is misleading for Exxon Mobil to state that the claimant’s reliefs was against MPN only.
He added that the second defendant’s presence was required for the just determination of the issues as presented in the suit.
Ozoani had also argued that MPN was a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corporation.
Exxon Mobil’s counsel, Ajogwu had sought an order of the court order to strike out the corporation’s name from the suit.
He had argued that the reliefs sought by the claimant against Exxon Mobil could not be granted since the company was neither incorporated in Nigeria nor carried out its business in the country.
The case was adjourned until Nov. 9 for hearing. (NAN)