Court Orders Fmr ExxonMobil Employee To Pay N.5m Damages For Libel

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Court gavel
Court gavel

A former employee of ExxonMobil is in hot soup as an Uyo High Court in Akwa Ibom State has ordered her to pay N500,000 as damages for libel against Mrs Regina Udobong, the immediate past Manager, Public and Government Affairs, Joint Venture Operations of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, (MPNU).

The court presided over by Justice Margaret-Mary Udoma ordered one Ms Mfon Abia, the one-time employee of ExxonMobil to pay the money for falsely and maliciously publishing libelous materials against Udobong on social media in the LinkedIn, Online Professional Platform to the entire world, read by numerous persons within and outside Nigeria.

Justice Udoma, while delivering judgment in Suit No: HU/375/2018 between Regina Udobong and Ms Mfon Abia, also ordered Ms Abia to pay N50,000 as well as write and publish a written apology to Mrs Udobong in the same social media, the LinkedIn Online Professional Platform.

According to her, “in the interest of justice  pursuant to Order 20 Rules 1 and 9 of the High Civil Procedure Rule 2009 of Akwa Ibom State and the Supreme Court decision in the case of Banna Vs Telepower Nig Ltd (2007,144 LRCN pg.440 at 455 ratio), the instant motion on notice of 13/6/2019 is granted.”

The judge ruled that the defendant (Abia) was guilty for falsely and maliciously publishing libelous materials concerning Udobong on social media in the LinkedIn Online Professional Platform to the entire world, read by numerous persons within and outside Nigeria.

Udobong had sued Abia (a separated employee of the company in 2016) for allegedly denigrating her person and character, through sundry social media attacks between October 26, 2018 and November 4, 2018.

Irked by the erroneous belief that the Claimant (Udobong) was responsible for the termination of her (Abia’s) employment in December 2016, Abia had published via LinkedIn some character assassination posts against the claimant.

In his reaction, Samuel Ikpo Esq., the lead counsel to Udobong, commended the court for the judgment, adding that the allegations by Abia were completely fallacious, malicious, baseless and unsubstantiated.

Ikpo said his client, (Udobong), a seasoned administrator, technocrat and public relations expert  was billed to retire from the employ of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited after serving the oil giant meritoriously for 29 years and upon attaining the mandatory retirement age of the company but three months to her retirement and two years after the termination of Abia’s employment by the company, the respondent (Abia) unsuccessfully launched a vengeful social media campaign to tarnish his client’s hard-earned reputation.

He lauded the oil giant for celebrating his client on her retirement and lauded her excellent services and contributions to the towering success of the company in Nigeria.

Ikpo added that his Chambers was working with the Nigerian Police Force and other relevant agencies to entrench the criminal aspect of Abia’s publications under the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act of 2015.