4 February 2018

Ethiopia: Court Orders Officials to Justify Oil Libya's HQ Seizure

The plot is located at Gotera and has been used as Oil Libya's headquarters

A judge at the Federal High Court ordered one ministry and four city officials to appear before court to provide a rationale behind annulling the title deed of Libya Oil Ethiopia's headquarters.

These officials are expected to appear before court on February 26, 2018, and justify the action taken on the Company's plot which was initially injuncted by the same court.

The Case was instituted in 2014 when Libya Oil filed a legal suit against Weyra Transport after its failure to deliver the former's property which was contractually rented for two and half years since May 2010. The duo has worked together prior to acquisition by their current owners.

Weyra, which has been under the administration of the then Privatisation & Public Enterprise Supervising Agency (PPESA) and Shell Ethiopia, entirely dissolved by OilLibya, agreed to partner with the latter being a supplier of petroleum and lubricants while the former became the retailer.

Weyra, later privatised by Trans Ethiopia, rented the Neqemte, Bishoftu and Addis Abeba stations of the plaintiff under a two and half year contract.

But, according to the plaintiff's claim, though the contract was terminated, the first defendant did not return the property to its former owner.

The current Ministry of Public Enterprise (MoPE), also the co-defendant, claimed that the property belongs to neither OilLibya nor Weyra, which was transferred to Trans Ethiopia, a subsidiary of Endowment Fund for Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) in May 2014 for 268 million Br. Rather MoPE owns all three stations.

When Weyra was transferred to Trans, the three stations were not included in the bid document, Weyra pointed out in its statement of defence requesting the Court for its exclusion from the Case.

After receiving claims from both parties, the Court injuncted three stations of OliLibya among its 167 stations all over the country on December 26, 2015, and proceeded to hear the Case.

In the course of the Case, OilLibya submitted a complaint on December 29, 2017, stating that the Ministry and Nifas Silk Lafto District officials annulled the title deed of its headquarters' plot located at Gotera. The deed was annulled on December 18, 2017.

Receiving Oil Libya's complaint, the Presiding Judge of the Seventh Civil Bench, Abdisa Dashura, issued a summon for Girma Amente (PhD), minister of Public Enterprise, and Tesfa Tola, the legal services directorate, in addition to four officials of Lafto District including the CEO on January 2, 2018.

Though the Court ordered the officials to appear on January 8, 2018, only two of them obliged. The Minister submitted a letter explaining his absence for he was preoccupied with governmental tasks. The remaining three did not respond to the call.

Judge Abdisa postponed the hearing for January 26, 2018, where the two respondents were summoned after being detained by police. But again, the CEO of the District did not turn up as the police had no orders to bring him to court.

For the next session to be held after three weeks, all five officials are expected to appear before the Court.

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