This story is part of a special report chronicling events that led to the dismissal of Andrew Okai as the CEO of Letshego Holdings. In case you missed it:
- Decision on urgency deferred
- Irreparable relationship critical to the case
Andrew Okai, who was recently fired as CEO of Letshego Holdings, has taken the pan-African microlender to court on urgency to seek reinstatement among several reliefs, The Business Weekly & Review has established.
The Ghanaian also wants the court to declare his termination unlawful. Appearing before Justice Isaac Bahuma, the applicant’s attorney, Virgil Patrick William Vergeer of Vergeer attorneys, asseverated that the matter should be heard on urgency.
Vergeer submitted that this case is a claim for unfair dismissal and as such needs to be heard urgently before his client could suffer more prejudice. He said as an employee, the applicant is protected by the law but was unfairly dismissed because he was not given a hearing and his reasons for dismissal remain undisclosed. he asserted that according to Vergeer, Section 23E of the Employment Act “prohibits dismissal of employees without affording them a fair hearing”.
Vergee said reasons for seeking the matter to be heard on an urgent basis were motivated by the fact that the dismissal amounts to financial loss as a result of cessation of his client’s salary and other benefits. “The respondents made a conscious decision. They could not wait for a hearing,” Vergeer told court. Driving his case for urgency, the applicant’s lawyer emphasised that giving notice alone is not sufficient and that his client ought to have been informed of the reasons for his dismissal.
He said to issue a statement to the effect that there was a breakdown in the relationship was of no substance in that the Letshego Board should have presented its issues against him so he could respond. Although not filed for the record, during the court session, Vergeer interestingly added that if Letshego does not want to continue working with the Ghana-born expatriate, the company must pay him for the balance of his contract. However, this was objected to by the respondents.
Okai was contracted to Letshego for five years effective January 2020. In defence Letshego, attorney Mboki Chilisa of Collins Chilisa Consultants submitted that the case was not urgent because the applicant had failed to demonstrate to the court how the matter is exceptional except for pointing to the financial prejudice, which, Chilisa said, is not enough. “One must show that their circumstances differ from those of others (dismissed but) awaiting their term (in court),’’ he asserted. Chilisa then asked the court not to entertain the claim brought before it by Okai, saying there is substantial redress available to the applicant in due course.
He stated that the respondents do not see why reinstatement should be brought up as there was a suggestion of mediation prior to his dismissal but Okai declined the suggestion. “It is common cause that the parties had differences,” he said, adding that reinstatement is usually granted when the employee has been wronged. Speaking of the untenable relationship Chilisa pressed on: “We ask that the court should find that reinstatement is not applicable because of the untenable relationship.”
He said as long as the Board of Letshego has no trust in Okai, irrespective of how good he was at his job, reinstatement would be impossible. The Block 3 Industrial Court reserved judgement on the matter of urgency for a later date to be announced in due course. Meanwhile, Okai was dismissed earlier this month in what a statement issued by Letshego described as “an irreparable breakdown in trust and confidence between the two parties”.
To be continued…