A court adjourned the case of the former chief executive officer of Oromia Insurance Company (OIC) to June 6, 2012, for a ruling, after hearing the testimony of current Chief Executive Officer Tesfaye Desta, on April 24, 2012.
Mitiku Abdissa filed a suit against the company he helped form, following a disagreement over his dismissal nearly a year ago.
OIC was incorporated in January 2009 with Mitiku, a shareholder, as its CEO. It has recorded a 2.15 million Br profit before tax for the following 2010/11 fiscal year. But, Mitiku was fired midway through that year.
However, the Company's board, chaired by Elias Geneti, ordered Mitiku in a letter written on March 30, 2011, to go on forced leave for 70 days, without giving him any reason, instructing him to delegate his responsibilities to Tesfaye Desta, the then-operations officer, as well as surrender his office and the properties in his possession. Subsequently, the board notified Mitiku on April 5, 2011, that he was suspended from work for failing to comply with the previous instructions, forcing the company to run for five days without a leader.
Tesfaye, who had immediately become the acting chief executive officer, formed a committee to investigate Mitiku, and the committee reported that the former CEO had made inappropriate employments, introduced poor office organisation that led to the loss of documents, and failed to prepare a recovery site for the storing of damaged vehicles and machinery. This led the board to fire Mitiku in May 2011.
For 10 months, now, Mitiku has been contending the decision in court, appealing to be reinstated to his position. The most recent witness that the court heard in Mitiku's case was Tesfaye, who is the current chief executive officer.
Appearing before Judge Berhanu Mengistu, on April 24, 2012, Tesfaye said that Mitiku had not talked to him, at all, let alone given him a letter delegating him, when he was told to go on leave. He also denied Mitiku's claim that he refused to receive the delegation letter.
The judge rejected a question from Filipos Aynalem, Mitiku's lawyer, asking Tesfaye about when and on what terms he was employed.
OIC's subscribed and paid-up capital is 85.3 million Br and 30 million Br, respectively, from 545 founding shareholders. It has registered a gross written premium of 125 million Br for the three quarters, so far, of the 2011/12 fiscal year.
Tesfaye, who graduated from Addis Abeba University (AAU) in accounting in 1987, has been in the insurance industry since 1995. He was a marketing manager and controller at United Insurance Company (UIC) before moving to OIC, in January 2011, where he would replace Mitiku in only three months. National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) recognised his appointment as CEO of OIC eight months later.
Whether the court will rule in favour of Mitiku, reinstate him at his post, and award him the 238,454 Br in compensation that he has requested is yet to be seen in June.
Witnesses of the defendants and the plaintiff as well as court witnesses were heard in two rounds in March 27 and April 24, 2012. On April 24, the only witness was Tesfaye, who could not testify on March 27 because of a shortage of time.