19 July 2018

Nigeria: Why Exxonmobil Sacked Spy Police Officers - Official

ExxonMobil management on Wednesday gave reasons why spy police officers on the company's employ were terminated shortly after being absorbed in compliance with the recent Supreme Court order.

On Friday, July 13, spy policemen working for the company in its operational locations in Lagos, Eket and other places simultaneously staged protests over alleged denial of their 'official' entitlements.

The chairman, Security Workforce ExxonMobil, Okon Johnson, said the protesters, some of whom put in almost 22 years' service, accused the management of refusing to comply with Supreme Court order to absorb them as employees of the company.

However, the company's spokesperson, Ogechukwu Udeagha, denied the accusations. He said the management had fully complied with the Supreme Court order by providing compensation packages for the affected personnel.

Mr Udeagha said in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, "the compensation packages covered all categories of affected personnel, including those in active service, and others who had already left the services of the company before the judgment."

Besides, he said the company also offered human resource consulting services to assist the affected police officers with employment opportunities with third parties working for the company.

But, a senior official of the company who requested his name not to be revealed, said although the management absorbed the policemen in compliance with the Supreme Court order, their appointments had to be terminated for "operational reasons."

"The company complied with the Supreme Court ruling by acknowledging the spy police as employees. But, given the business model MPN is running, calculating their emoluments and benefits was a challenge. Most of them have School Certificate as their highest qualification.

"Now, the least of them will get a minimum of 10 years annual basic salary and allowances up till July 13, 2018, in addition to August salary paid in lieu of one month notice of disengagement from service.

"They are not staff of ExxonMobil. They were hired or recruited and trained by the Nigeria Police and deployed to Mobil Producing Nigeria. The company has been paying them through the police.

"Administratively, they were being managed by the police, including their promotions and other benefits. Most of the police officers, who joined the service in the 1990s, have put in a minimum of 12 years of service. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court and was decided in their favour," he said.

The official said the policemen took ExxonMobil to court demanding to be absorbed as full staff to be entitled to full benefits like every other MPN employees.

However, the official said due to the peculiar nature of the oil and gas industry, ExxonMobil was compelled to terminate their appointments, despite agreeing to pay all their benefits, gratuity, leave allowance arrears and pension going back to when they began to work for the company.

"ExxonMobil is an oil and gas producing company, and not a security services provider. In all, they were about 900. Of this number, a lot of them have either retired, moved on to other jobs, or died. Those who are still active are about 500, more than all the engineers.

"As an operator of a joint venture with the federal government, management thought it would be difficult to defend their status as employees on the payroll of the company," the official said.

The official said at the time they were issued letters of employment as directed by the Supreme Court, they were informed the company would not be able to carry them in the company's books as employees going forward.

Rather, he said they were told those who are strong enough to continue working would absorbed through a third party security provider to the company for them to continue working for MPN.

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