Dec 16, 2013, 10:22 AM
Basiru Conteh, former staff of the MFH-Group, recently opened his defence in a legal suit brought against him by his former employer (MFH-Group Company) at the Industrial Tribunal in Kanifing.
The claim against Mr Conteh was for D48,673.80, being damages for breach of contract made orally or in writing calculated at six months’ salary.
The company also claimed D24,336.90, being the requisite notice period of three months’ salary and a statutory interest at a percentage rate from the date of judgment to full payment.
The MFH Group further made claim for legal and administration costs of D15,000 associated with instituting legal proceedings.
Testifying before the tribunal, the defendant, Basiru Conteh, told the tribunal that he was a member of staff of the MFH Group and that he was employed in December 2006, with an employment letter issued to him to that effect.
“Since I was employed, I have no cause to be warned or suspended,” he asserted, adding that he had promotion and was awarded with a certificate by the plaintiff, documents of which were admitted and tendered in evidence at the court.
Mr Conteh told the tribunal he was aware of the claim brought against him by his former employer.
He told the tribunal that he was employed as a salesman, mentioning branches of MFH Group he had worked with, including the Sunu Kerr Kanifing branch till February 2011.
He said he was transferred to the Kanifing branch to re-organize it, which he did, noting that one John Addai, who was manager of the branch, and his wife, Julian Addai, who was assistant manager.
He adduced that when he first went there, they counted the Manjai head office stock that were taken there, adducing that after two weeks the stock accountant made a report without any signature, which he was shown to sign.
He noted that he refused to sign the said report because the normal procedure of signing stock report was not followed.
Asked what happened upon refusal, the witness said he was sent a letter that the accountant, Yomi, had left the country and resigned from work.
He revealed that he told the administrative manager of the company, Edward Equalay, that a letter was brought to him to sign but did not see any signature of the accountant.
“I told him that I was not satisfied with the stocktaking and that there should be stocktaking,” he said.
The defence witness revealed that the administrative manager told him not to worry and that the next stocktaking would be his (the witness) opening stock, adding that closing the shop for two to three days would be a loss to the company.
He adduced that he then started to work for the whole year.
Asked whether it was correct there was stocktaking in March 2011 and that it was discovered that there was over D3M loss by the company, he denied the claim, saying: “There was stocktaking in March 2011 but I did not have opening stock and that the amount claimed to have been lost was not correct.”
Still on his defence, he indicated that after Yomi’s departure, the company brought in another new accountant.
He asserted that after taking stock in March, the accountant came with a report that there was a shortage of D3M plus and asked him to sign the report.
He told the tribunal he was surprised there was no opening stock and he did not know where the figure came from.
He admitted he was involved in stocktaking in March.
Prior to the report, he said, the accountant did not interview him but asked him to sign.
He told the tribunal he refused to sign it, because that should have been his opening stock but instead wanted him to sign as his closing stock.
“I got a call from the administrative manager, Edward, that I should close the shop and inform everybody to report to a meeting at the head office in Manjai,” he revealed.
At the meeting, he added, they called each employee one after the other as a form of investigation, which resulted in a quarrel between the staff of the company at Kanifing and the management.
The witness said the staff later agreed and the process was carried out.
“When I went in, I met Edward, Fady Ousaimy, the marketing manager, the chief accountant, the assistant accountant and the internal auditor,” he told the tribunal.
He added that when they queried him asking why he did not sign the said report he replied to them that he was surprised because the administrative manager knew the said report should have been his opening stock and not his closing stock.
However, he indicated that the administrative officer also replied that he could not remember uttering such, adding that he also told him that if he had not been promised to carry out an opening stock, he would not have worked there for the whole year.
He adduced that he was later asked to report to the Manjai office whilst his assistant was asked to open the shop to work with stock takers.
He adduced that after a while, he was involved in a stocktaking which lasted for three days but was not aware of any report.
He further told the tribunal he was written a letter for a hearing, which was identified by the defendant and tendered and admitted as exhibit.
Prior to that, he noted, he was without any assignment and was sitting in Edward’s office the whole day trying to convince him to sign the said report, which he declined to do, saying: “I told him that I could not take responsibility for something I don’t know about.”
The defendant said he responded to the disciplinary letter, which was identified by him and admitted in evidence.
Asked by his counsel whether he knew that the over D3 million claim by the company was reported to the police, the witness said: “To my knowledge the D3 million claimed by the company was never reported to the police.”
The case was at this juncture adjourned till 13 February 2012.