Friday, January 9, 2009

GLOA congratulates President Mills

Thursday, January 8, 2009 (Page 12)

THE Ghana Lotto Operators Association (GLOA) has congratulated the President-elect, Professor John Evans Atta Mills on his victory in the December polls.
"It is our prayer that the good Lord will grant you wisdom and strength to enable you succeed in the arduous task ahead with distinction," Mr Seth Amoani, the General Secretary of the GLOA, an association made up of more than 500,000 members stated.
At a press briefing in Accra today, Mr Amoani on behalf of the association said "we remain trusting that with determination you would be able to fulfil your promise and commitment to help the private sector grow without exceptions."
The GLOA reminded Professor Mills on his promise to revive the private lotto industry which has been outlawed with the passage of the National Lottery Authority (NLA) Act 2006, Act 722.
"We further wish to pledge our unflinching support to you in your endeavour to finding a lasting solution to problems affecting the lotto industry," the GLOA consisting Obiri Asare and Sons Limited, Rambel Enterprises Limited, Dan Multipurpose Trading Enterprise Limited, Agrop Association Limited, Star Lotto Limited and From-Home Enterprises had sought to question the constitutionality of the National Lottery Authority (NLA) Act 2006, Act 722 pointed out.
The association also expressed the hope that Professor Mills' experience in government would enable him to confront the challenges that might come his way for the benefit of all.
Professor Mills is on record to have stated that he would address problems that confronted the private lotto industry following the passage of the Lotto Act in order to revamp the industry.
The GLOA has in the past year lost four different motions it filed challenging the eligibility of the Lotto Act right from the Fast Track High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
The association has, nevertheless, filed another motion praying the Supreme Court to quash the proceedings which led to the dismissal of an application for injunction pending an appeal against the outlaw of private lotto in the country.
The GLOA had sued the National Lottery Authority (NLA) and maintained that its rights to free market activity had been impinged upon by the NLA following the passage of the National Lottery Authority (NLA) Act 2006, Act 722, but the Fast Track High Court dismissed the application, prompting the GLOA to appeal.
After filing the appeal, the GLOA filed another application praying the court to stay execution of its judgement pending the outcome of the appeal which it (GLOA) said had a good chance of success.
However, on November 4, 2008, the court, presided over by Mr Justice K.A. Ofori-Atta, said the appellants were not able to assert their right to the law of equity.
Following the lower court’s decision, the GLOA filed the application to invoke the supervisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to quash the Fast Track High Court’s proceedings on October 22, 2008 which led to the subsequent dismissal of its application for injunction.
It is also praying the Supreme Court to order the stay of execution of the court’s ruling which the GLOA said impinged on its right to access to free market activity.
According to the GLOA, the learned trial judge lacked the jurisdiction to hear the application for injunction pending appeal.
The application is expected to be moved on Tuesday, January 13, 2009.
The grounds of the motion were that the matter challenging the constitutionality or otherwise of the Lotto Act had been put before Mr Justice Edward Asante after it was transferred from Mr Justice Anthony Abada’s court by the Chief Justice.
In its statement of case, the applicant stated that Mr Justice Asante adjourned hearing of the case to October 22, 2008 but on the next adjourned date it emerged that Mr Justice Asante was on leave and for that matter a court clerk adjourned it to November 6, 2008.
“On the same day of October 22, 2008, the case was called at the High Court Fast Track 2 presided over by Mr Justice Ofori-Atta who heard submissions in the absence of the applicant and its counsel. The learned trial judge then adjourned the pending application for ruling on November 4, 2008,” it stated.
It further argued that on November 4, 2008, counsel for the applicant appeared before the court and objected to the delivery of the ruling on the grounds that the judge lacked jurisdiction to hear the application and deliver a ruling.
According to the applicant, “since the case was transferred to Justice Asante by an order from the Chief Justice, it is only another order from the Chief Justice that can put the case before him (Justice Ofori-Atta) to determine”.
The applicant argued that “in the absence of an order of transfer and any evidence confirming its existence, Justice Ofori-Atta overruled our objection and proceeded to dismiss the application for injunction pending appeal”.
Citing authorities to support its argument, the applicant held that it was evident that the registrar of the Fast Track High Court, and not the Chief Justice, transferred the case to Justice Ofori-Atta’s court.
“The registrar sought to arrogate to himself the powers of the Chief Justice, which he did not have, and had no authority of the Chief Justice to act in that regard,” the GLOA stated.
The Fast Track High Court’s judgement banning private lotto followed an application by the NLA, which prayed the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s suit on the premise that the Supreme Court had declared the Lotto Act constitutional and, for that reason, there was no basis for the substantive suit to continue at the lower court.

Tsatsu Tsikata freed

Wednesday, January 7, 2009 (Page 3 Lead)

PRESIDENT J.A. Kufuor has granted a free, absolute and unconditional pardon to the incarcerated former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Mr Tsatsu Tsikata.
More than 500 people, including high-profile personalities who served various prison terms for causing financial loss to the state, have also been pardoned.
A statement signed by a Deputy Minister of Information, Mr Frank Agyekum, and issued in Accra yesterday said the President granted the free, absolute and unconditional pardon under his prerogative of mercy as enshrined in Article 72 of the Constitution.
The pardon means Mr Tsikata, who was sentenced to five years imprisonment by an Accra Fast Track High Court for causing financial loss to the state, and the others never committed any offence.
It also means Mr Tsikata, who is still on admission at the Cardiothoracic Centre of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, and the others can be appointed into public office, as well as stand for elections, without any criminal record on their heads.
Other persons who have been granted free, absolute and unconditional pardon, although they have completed their various terms of prison sentence, are Mr Kwame Peprah, a former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning; Mr Akenteng Appiah-Menka, who served a prison term in 1986 for causing financial loss to the state, as well as Mallam Issah, a former Minister of Youth and Sports who also served a prison term under the Kufuor administration.
Other personalities who have served various prison terms for causing financial loss to the state and have been pardoned include Mr Dan Abodakpi, a former Minister of Trade and Industry, and Mr Ibrahim Adam, a former Minister of Food and Agriculture; Dr George Sepah-Yankey, a former Director at the Ministry of Finance, all under the NDC.
Other affected persons are first-time offenders who have served more than half of their prison terms, nursing mothers, prisoners above 70, seriously ill prisoners and persons serving at the President’s pleasure.
Prisoners who have been convicted for murder, rape, armed robbery, narcotic offences, defilement, manslaughter, threat of death, carrying of offensive weapons and escape from lawful custody are not included.
However, those who have been convicted for murder and have served at least 10 years, have shown remorse and are well behaved will have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment and a definite term of 20 years, with effect from the day of amnesty.
One of the lawyers for Mr Tsikata, Mr Tony Lithur, confirmed President Kufuor's unconditional pardon for Mr Tsikata in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday.
He, however, could not state the details of the pardon, with the explanation that those details were with Mr Tsikata.
Mr Lithur, who is a member of the National Democratic Congress' transition team on legal affairs, was in the transition meeting when the Daily Graphic called to verify whether or not Mr Tsikata had been granted a Presidential pardon.
Asked whether or not Mr Tsikata would pursue the appeal against his conviction, Mr Lithur said he could not tell at the moment.
"We are yet to study the entire content of the pardon and advise Mr Tsikata on what to do next," counsel explained.
On December 18, 2008, the Court of Appeal, by a unanimous decision, ruled that the Accra Fast Track High Court erred in dismissing the bail application pending appeal filed by Mr Tsikata.
It, therefore, upheld an appeal filed against the dismissal of the application by Tsikata against the trial judge, Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban.
According to the court, the trial judge erred in dismissing the application because at the time the application was dismissed Tsikata had not even moved it, based on the fact that he did not have a copy of the court’s judgement which was very essential for his bail application.
It said the judge could have, under the circumstance, adjourned the matter to enable Tsikata to have a copy of the judgement, instead of dismissing the application.
By the decision, the court thus restored Tsikata’s bail application but it did not give directions as to where it should be heard.
His application for bail was expected to be heard this week, according to sources.
Mrs Justice Abban, on July 20, 2008, dismissed a bail application filed by Tsikata pending an appeal against his five-year conviction for causing financial loss to the state.
According to Mrs Justice Abban, Tsikata’s refusal to move the motion for bail pending appeal was an indication that he was no longer interested in pursuing the application.
She had earlier refused to decline jurisdiction in the hearing of the bail application on the grounds that she was not biased, as had been alleged by Tsikata.
Tsikata was, on June 18, 2008, found guilty on three counts of wilfully causing financial loss of GH¢230,000 to the state and another count of misapplying public property and sentenced to five years imprisonment on each count to run concurrently.
He was charged in 2002 with three counts of wilfully causing financial loss of GH¢230,000 to the state through a loan he guaranteed for Valley Farms on behalf of the GNPC and another count of misapplying public property.
Valley Farms contracted the loan from Caisse Francaise de Developement in 1991 but defaulted in the payment and the GNPC, which acted as the guarantor, was compelled to pay it in 1996.
Tsikata, who had maintained his innocence throughout the six-year trial, appealed against his conviction.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Fast Track Court says no to first motion

Friday, January 1, 2009 (Second Lead Story)

THE Accra Fast Track High Court yesterday refused to hear an ex-parte application for interim injunction filed by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and its Chairman, Mr Peter Mac Manu, against the Electoral Commission (EC) and its chairman.
The court, instead, indicated that looking at the nature of the case and the exigencies, it was prudent for the interested parties, namely, Prof John Evans Atta Mills, the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the NDC to be served on notice with the pleadings to enable them to react appropriately.
He also reminded the plaintiffs that the EC was only a referee between the NPP and the NDC and for that matter it was important that the NDC was served on notice to respond to the issue raised.
Consequently, Mr Justice Edward Amoako Asante adjourned the hearing to Monday, January 5, 2009 and asked the applicants to serve the interested parties by 10 a.m. today to enable them to respond by 4 p.m on Sunday.
The applicants were represented by Mr Atta Akyea and Mrs Irene Addo. On the other side were Mr Samuel Cudjoe, who described himself as a friend of the court, Mr Tony Lithur, Mr Bram Larbi and Mr Fui Tsikata, among a host of other lawyers.
But the parties to the suit were not in court and the writ was to restrain the EC from going ahead to declare the final results of the presidential election without a re-run of the Volta Region election results.
Mr Justice Asante resumed his seat at exactly 11.45 a.m., paving the way for the day’s proceedings to start.
Tempers flared in court but the judge acted tactfully in handling the issue.
The nature of the writ was not made known and after Mr Atta Akyea had announced himself and had been asked by the court to proceed with his application, Mr Cudjoe told the court that as a friend of the court, he was of the view that its sitting was in breach of the Public Holiday Act, Act 601.
Before he could finish with his submission, the judge told him that the Chief Justice had issued a warrant to authorise the sitting, but Mr Cudjoe proceeded and indicated that it was only the President who, under Order 79 of the Rules of Court, could order the court to convene on a public holiday.
He said the Schedule of Act 601 had listed a number of days as public holidays, and they included January 1, on which any business, apart from those related to the essential services, was prohibited.
“On a public holiday, the Judicial Service cannot operate. It is an offence to sit on a public holiday,” he declared, adding that a breach of that suffered a penalty of 100 penalty units or three months imprisonment or both.
Mr Cudjoe said the only exception to the provision was when the President, by Executive Instrument, ordered the court to sit on a public holiday. Therefore, the warrant issued by the Chief Justice was wrong because she did not have the power to do that except an order from the President.
“The court will have to abide by the provision. Anybody who insists that the court sits is causing an offence,” he said.
Mr Akyea described the argument by Mr Cudjoe as unfortunate and a misrepresentation, since the President was not the head of the judiciary, although business activities in governmental institutions were covered by Act 601.
“It is Order 79 that guides this court and since counsel drew his own sword, he must die by it,” he said, and pointed out that the Chief Justice could set aside any day for the court to sit as the circumstances required.
He drew the analogy that even on a Sunday somebody had gone to the house of a judge to have judgement in his favour to prevent the taking away of a child from the jurisdiction.
According to Mr Akyea, the argument would undermine the Constitution of Ghana in which the judiciary was a separate body not answerable to the President or any authority.
He said the Court’s Act was clear that the Chief Justice could appoint any judge to sit on any day, including vacations, and, therefore, the court should exercise its jurisdiction accordingly and reject claims to appoint the President as the head of the judiciary.
“This court should not allow a crisis situation to be created because of the pleasure of a friend of the court. The objection has no basis in law because the court does not work for other essential services listed under Act 601,” he argued.
Mr Cudjoe rose and said when it came to the courts sitting during the vacation, the Chief Justice had the authority, yet she should abide by the law.
Mr Fui Tsikata also intervened to ask the court not to jeopardise the constitutional provisions by entertaining the matter in the first place because it did not have the power to make the order that it made.
”This is illegal and subverting the legal process,” he claimed.
The judge intervened in the ensuing exchanges but Mr Lithur challenged Mr Akyea over what he described as ethical issues of the law profession which would be taken up.
Mr Justice Asante ruled that having listened to the arguments, he was of teh view that yesterday was a public holiday and a vacation as well but siunce he had a warrant to go on with the case he would proceed and subsequently made teh orders.
He said
Supporters of the NDC who initially did not understand the import of the court’s action were angry but their leaders explained matters to them to calm them down.
Some of the comments they initially passed were: “When it was our time, we handed over to you peacefully. Now you don’t want to hand over peacefully”; “We cannot believe the Chief Justice can order a judge to sit on a public holiday”; “The whole world is watching you”; “Hand over power and preserve the remaining dignity you have, if any”, among many others.
That notwithstanding, they left the heavily guarded court premises calm and a bit cheerful.

NPP FILES WRIT • Calling for suspension of election in Tain Constituency

Friday, January 2, 2009 (Second Lead Story)

THE New Patriotic Party (NPP) yesterday afternoon filed a fresh application at the Fast Track High Court seeking an order to restrain the Electoral Commission (EC) from conducting today’s presidential run-off in the Tain Constituency.
The writ, which was filed on notice, is also seeking an order of interlocutory injunction to restrain the EC from declaring the winner of the 2008 presidential election without a re-run of the election in the Volta Region.
It was filed at 2.46 p.m. by Zoe, Akyea & Co on behalf of the NPP and its Chairman, Peter Mac Manu, against the EC and its Chairman, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan.
Those affected by the writ are Prof John Evans Atta Mills and the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The motion will be moved on Monday, January 5, 2009.
An affidavit in support of the motion said the plaintiffs were dissatisfied with the conduct of the election in the Volta Region generally and particularly in the Ho Central, Ho East, Ho West, Ave-Avenor, North Tongu, Keta, Ketu South, Hohoe South and South Dayi constituencies.
"There was massive electoral malpractice which severely compromised the election, rendering it manifestly unreliable," it pointed out.
According to plaintiffs, the results reflected in the Volta Region should not be included in the national vote tally because it would "taint/compromise the credibility, fairness and transparency of the entire presidential election of December 28, 2008".
They said on December 28, 2008, the Campaign Director of the NPP wrote a letter to the EC, complaining of the irregularities in the Volta Region poll and requested that the poll be suspended until the said irregularities had been investigated and rectified.
Plaintiffs averred that the NPP again raised the issue with the Chairman of the EC on December 30, 2008 but to no avail, adding that "the defendant has gone ahead to include the impugned results of the Volta Region poll in the tally of votes in the presidential election, without taking account of plaintiffs’ complaints nor taking steps to investigate and rectify same".
According to plaintiffs, the failure of the Chairman of the EC to consider, investigate and resolve the complaints of the plaintiff in respect of the December 28, 2008 presidential election was contrary to law and principles of natural justice.
They averred that as a result of the conduct of the EC, the results of the presidential election would not reflect the true will of the people of Ghana.
"Having due regard to the urgency of this case after January 2, 2009, a plausible case of necessity has been made to warrant the grant of an injunction in order to avoid a situation in which the plaintiffs will suffer irreparable damage," the affidavit in support of the motion stated.
"The exigencies have also not permitted us to annex our supporting documents and statement of case which we shall furnish the court in a supplementary affidavit," plaintiffs explained.
According to them, the Chairman of the EC erred when he came to the arbitrary position that the Tain Constituency was the decider, without considering the electoral malpractice in the Volta Region.

Graphic driver escapes mob action

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 (Back Page)

THE young man who was nearly lynched by a mob at Abeka Lapaz on December 28, 2008 has been identified as a driver with the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL).
Mr Benjamin Amedome, who is five feet two inches tall, was mistaken for a macho man and was nearly lynched by a mob but he was rescued by the police.
Narrating his ordeal to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, Mr Amedome said he had been offered a lift by one of the drivers of GCGL and later got down in front of a popular spot called the Abrantie Spot to board another vehicle to Achimota.
According to him, he saw people running up and down and when he enquired he was told that some macho men had allegedly arrived at some polling stations to snatch ballot boxes being used in the presidential run-off.
“To my surprise, I saw the crowd running towards my direction. Sensing danger, I took to my heels to save my life,” Mr Amedome narrated.
According to him, an object was thrown at him and in the process he sustained a head injury.
“I kept running for my life and but for the timely intervention of the police, I would have been dead by now,” Mr Amedome pointed out.
He explained that the police took him to the police station for safety and he was later released to seek medical care.
Mr Amedome expressed his profound gratitude to the police for saving his life.
Meanwhile, Benjamin Glover reports from Garu Tempane that two natives of Garu who were arrested by the police on Sunday for allegedly influencing and coercing voters to vote for one of the two political parties have been released.
The two, Alale Amos, 38, and Albert Alalezuuda, 41, were picked up at Zesira/Nelita for allegedly intimidating voters.
They were picked up on the instructions of the Upper East Regional Minister.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, Assistant Superintendent of Police Mr Patrick Atim Ayisala said the two were granted police enquiry bail, adding that the police would conduct further investigations to verify the authenticity or otherwise of the allegation.
In a related development, another suspect, Alhassan Muniru, who was alleged to be in possession of two ballot papers has been detained by the police pending further investigations.