Regina Udobong, a retired senior staff of ExxonMobil is set to institute another suit against Mfon Abia, a separated staff of same organization, to enforce an earlier judgement of Akwa Ibom State High Court that awarded N500, 000 damages against the latter over her libelous publication against the former.
Mrs Udobong, who was plaintiff in the suit titled HU/375/2018, made the disclosure in an exclusive conversation with StraightNews, which she said she has instructed her lawyer to issue a writ of Fifa to attach Abia’s properties.
Recalled that following the libel suit instituted by Udobong at Uyo division of Akwa Ibom State High Court, the court had ordered Abia, a one-time employee of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, to pay the sum of N500,000 to the plaintiff for falsely and maliciously publishing libelous materials against the plaintiff on LinkedIn social media platform.
LinkedIn is an online Professional Platform opened to the entire world and read by millions of people within and outside Nigeria.
The plaintiff, who is acknowledged by a number of her former colleagues as a “professional of high repute” was said to have felt disparaged and that her hard-earned reputation could be tarnished by the defendant’s offensive publication, hence filing the libel suit and demanding N 1 billion from Abia, but N500,000 damages was eventually awarded against the defendant by the Court.
The court, which was presided over by Justice Margaret-Mary Udoma, in a judgement delivered on July 15, 2019 also ordered Abia to pay N50,000 as cost of litigation to the plaintiff.
The court further ordered Abia to write and publish a written apology to Udobong in the same social media, the LinkedIn Online Professional Platform and full retraction of her earlier injurious publication.
Speaking with Straightnews on Sunday, September 5, Mrs Udobong confirmed that despite the court judgment, the defendant was yet to pay the judgment sum to her.
She told StraightNews that Abia only wrote and published “a lame apology” on her Facebook page, not on LinkedIn as ordered by the court.
‘’I have instructed my lawyer to institute another suit for us to fifa her property in Eket to reclaim the money since she has failed to pay the damages awarded by the court,’’ Udobong said.
Udobong, the immediate past Manager, Public and Government Affairs, Joint Venture Operations of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, (MPNU) had sued Mfon Abia (a separated employee of the company) for allegedly denigrating her person and character, through offensive social media attacks between October 26, 2018 and November 4, 2018.
Operating under an erroneous belief that the plaintiff (Udobong) was responsible for her exit from ExxonMobil employment in December 2016, Abia published via LinkedIn some character assassination posts against Udobong.
StraightNews’ findings show that Abia, an Economics graduate from University of Uyo joined ExxonMobil through due process before she was employed by MPN, an affiliate of ExxonMobil.
According to insider account, Abia, who is now residing in the United States, was separated from the oil giant in 2016 based on reasons bordering on “slum in her productivity, poor attitude to work and a behavioral pattern considered inconsistent with a corporate working environment”.
StraightNews also gathered that Abia was working in MPN’s Public and Government Affairs department at the Ibeno office and at the company’s liaison office in Uyo, where she was designated as senior analyst. Her job at certain points entails media role and handling of public donations for the company.
It was also gathered that she, among others, was laid off by the company in 2016 through a process called “separation.”
A source who wanted to remain anonymous said ‘’Separation is one of the terminologies used in disengaging employees of the company.
The difference between ‘separation’ and a ‘sack’ is that while an affected person in separation goes home with his or her entitlements, the take-home rights of a person sacked is forfeited by the company.’’
Before she was relieved from her appointment, Straightnews learnt from another source that one of Abia’s behaviours considered inappropriate was an attitude of always putting earpiece and getting carried away with rhythm and lyrics of music while on official meeting in the company.
‘’It was also noticed that she preferred parking her vehicle outside the premises of the company, raised the volume of music in her car stereo to a disturbing level and got reveled, gyrating to the rhythm and lyrics of the music.’’
The source adduced that Abia’s mannerism at workplace may have accounted for her slum in productivity that resulted in her ultimate separation.
StraightNews scoop shows that Abia’s behavioral issue coupled with the perception of her dwindling performance in her official responsibilities were piling up and constituted issues in profiling her EADS – Evaluation and Assessment Development System.
The opportunity for the company to bring its wrath on Abia came in 2016 when the need to downsize the workforce of the organization became imperative.
StraightNews can authoritatively report that Abia was initially billed for a sack but through intervention of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGSSAN), the sack sentence handed on her by the company was commuted to “separation”, which enabled her to receive her entitlement that accrued to her for the seven years she worked with the MPN.
The union’s intervention, as our source put it, “made Mfon Abia to be one of those affected in the 2016 separation exercise of the company with benefits.”
According to our source, since Abia’s performance was nose-diving with her perceived unstable behavior, it was difficult for her to escape being “separated” since performance and personal conduct of employees form the bulk of computing EADS, which is an annual check on employees in ExxonMobil establishments.
Our source, whose facial expression tended to portray her as someone with sympathy for Abia’s plight, also explained that ExxonMobil organizations are competitive workplace environment and not like civil service setting, where one could estimate with near-accuracy the time of exit.
She said that climbing ladder through promotion and getting to the mandatory retirement age at ExxonMobil is always considered to be a mark of achievement on the part of such employee.
However, despite being given a soft landing in her employment exit process, Abia has recently re-launched another round of damaging attacks on some retired top staff of ExxonMobil.
On her sack, a source in ExxonMobil headquarters in Lagos, who unlike our source in Ibeno in Akwa Ibom, was furious against Abia, combined satire and straightness in his comments over Abia’s diatribe against some “respected” Mobil retirees. He described Mfon’s assertions as being “full of outright lies and inaccuracies”.
Our source further stated that “A multinational company is sustained by a consistent application of policies and best practices. It is not a family business where the influence of “uncles” and other family members holds sway.
“No one person, no matter how powerful, is allowed to flout those policies. The wild allegations contained in the young lady’s publication are not possible in such an environment.
“ExxonMobil has a robust process of investigating infractions, often from the headquarters in USA. An insider source confirmed that all allegations against Regina and others, which started before her retirement from the company must have been investigated and found to be baseless.
Our source in Ibeno added: “For those who have followed Mfon’s altercations with persons, including her sister and ex-husband, there is a concern that she maybe going through some psychological challenges requiring not only our prayers but medical attention. We pray that she will explore these options, knowing that her friends back home will continue to support her in any way possible.”