Ghana: Supreme Court rulings played up in Ghana media

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – A series of landmark rulings by the Supreme Court and outdooring of a post-election report by the former ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) dominated the Ghana media this week.

The apex court in Ghana this week ruled on a US$60 million suit against the state-owned National Investment Bank (NIB), the admission of two ex-detainees from Guantanamo Bay by former President John Mahama, admission requirements at the Ghana School of Law and two pronouncements of the Judgement Debt Commission that looked huge sums the country has had to pay over the years to companies, organisations and individuals after court verdicts.

The state-owned Ghanaian Times reported that the National Investment Bank Limited won an appeal at the Supreme Court against the Standard Bank Offshore Trust Company Limited, over the payment of US$60 million judgement debt to Dominion Corporate Trustees Limited.

The Court, presided by the Chief Justice, Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo, awarded 500,000.00 Ghana cedis cost against the two companies represented by Ghanaian economist and investment consultant, Mr Kwame Pianim. (US$1 = 4.4 Ghana cedis)

It said by a unanimous decision, the three-member panel of judges said that Dominion Trustees had no capacity to have initiated the action and that the writ it filed at the High Court against NIB in 2013, which went in its favour, did not indicate that, indeed, Dominion Trustee were the true investors in the dispute between them.

Consequently, the court ruled that both judgements by the High Court and the Court of Appeal that bound NIB to pay US$60 million to Dominion Trustees were nullified, and, therefore, there was no basis for NIB to pay the said amount, which could have crippled the Ghanaian bank.

The case involved a collateral Management Agreement dated 10 November, 2001, between NIB, Eland International Ghana Limited and Eland International Thailand Limited under which Eland International Ghana Limited would import various commodities to be supplied by Eland International Thailand on credit.

“Send Gitmo 2 Back - Supreme Court Orders,” was the headline of the pro-government Daily Guide on the second judgement by the court.

It reported that the Supreme Court had declared as unconstitutional the admission of two ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees into the country by the previous John Mahama administration.

According to the judges, the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government acted unconstitutionally when it signed the controversial agreement with the United States of America (USA) government to bring the two suspected terrorists of Al-Qaeda into the country, as part of plans by former US President Barack Obama to close down Guantanamo Bay.

The arrival of Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef, 36, and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al-Dhuby, 34, in Ghana in 2016 caused public uproar over the possible security implications, as the two were deemed to be former Al-Qaeda terrorists.

Despite assurances by the US and Ghanaian governments at the time, the current ruling party, the clergy, NGOs and civil society organisations asked that they be deported. Two members of the public filed a suit against their admission into Ghana.

The court held that President Mahama needed the approval of Parliament before entering into any international agreement.

The court ordered the government to, within the next three months, send the agreement to Parliament for ratification or send the detainees back to where they came from.

The Graphic, in a story under the headline, “GITMO 2: We’ve taken steps to ratify their stay – Mustapha Hamid”, said the Minister of Information, Mr Mustapha Abdul Hamid, had explained that the two ex-detainees from Guantanamo Bay (GITMO) had been comporting themselves well since their arrival in Ghana in 2015.

He said they were still under the supervision of the security agencies and that government was going to take prompt steps to address the consequential orders from the Supreme Court that said the agreement should be taken to Parliament for ratification.

However, some members of the public are asking the government to deport the two men, since while in opposition it argued that they were a security threat.

“Supreme Court Stops Law School Admissions,” was the headline of the Daily Guide on another ruling by the apex court.

It reported that the Supreme Court had described as unconstitutional the admission procedure used by the Ghana School of Law that required applicants to take an entrance exam and subsequently be interviewed before gaining admission.

According to the court, the requirement is contrary to L.I. 1296.

The court, in its decision on Thursday, ordered the General Legal Council (GLC) to use the appropriate means to pass the required regulation for whatever admission process they intended to use.

The newspaper said the court, however, directed that the ongoing admission process for the 2017/2018 academic year was not affected by the decision of the court. He added that the GLC was to commence implementation within six months.

The court further recommended a quota system to be put in place for accredited institutions across the country.

In October 2015, Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare, a United States-based Ghanaian lawyer, proceeded to the apex court over the legality of the modes of admission used by the Ghana School of Law to admit LLB holders into the Professional Law Course by the school.

He contended that the number of people who were admitted into law school is woefully small, considering the number of people who possessed LLB.

“Kwesi Botchwey presents 455-page report,” was the headline of the Ghanaian Times on the presentation of a report commissioned by the former ruling National democratic Congress (NDC) after last year’s election defeat.

The newspaper reported that the much-awaited Kwesi Botchwey committee report on the defeat of the NDC at the 2016 polls had recommended a “peacemaking and healing tour”.

Prof. Botchwey who presented the 455-page report said the NDC must assemble “credible and eminent” personalities in the party to lead the tour.

It said after six months of work, the committee handed the report to the NDC National Chairman Kofi Portuphy.

The report recommended to the NDC leadership to consider the peace-making and healing tour as “extremely important”.

“This is because it will create the necessary conditions for any serious work that needs to be done in restructuring the party,” he said.

The committee also touched on the party’s biometric register which had become a source of discontent within the grassroots.

There were claims that the register had been infiltrated by non-NDC members while recognisable party figures at the branch level could not find their names on the list and the committee recommended that the party must work to “restore the integrity of the biometric register”.

The Ghanaian Times said a key recommendation was that the party needed to reconnect to its social democratic roots. It added that the party had a weak intellectual and research base and recommended steps be taken to crowd the party with critical thinkers.

The media also reported on the 70th birthday of former President Jerry John Rawlings on 22 June and the swearing in of the new Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, after her Parliamentary approval by consensus.
-0- PANA MA/VAO 24June2017

24 june 2017 05:47:58

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