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Court slams N.5M damages on ExxonMobil Staff for libel

Court slams N.5M damages on ExxonMobil Staff for libel

An Uyo High Court presided over by Justice Margaret-Mary Udoma has ordered one Ms Mfon Abia to pay five hundred thousand Naira only to Mrs Regina Udobong , the immediate past Manager, Public and Government Affairs, Joint Venture Operations of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, (MPNU), as damages for libel.

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

The judge asked Ms Abia to also pay Fifty Thousand Naira as cost of action.

She said, “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.

Aggrieved 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-assassinating posts against the claimant.

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

Ikpo said, her 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 commending 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 and other relevant agencies to progress the criminal aspect of Abia’s publications under the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention) Act of 2015.