Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Parliament Acted Wrongly In Vodafone Deal-Report
July 7, 2012 (Front page) It emerged at the Commercial Court's sitting in Accra on Thursday that Parliament acted in contravention of the 1992 Constitution in July 2008 when it ratified a Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) on the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone without the President's signature. According to an inter-ministerial committee which was set up in May 2009 to review the sale of Ghana’s 70 per cent shares in Ghana Telecom to Vodafone, then President J. A. Kufuor appended his signature to an agreement between Vodafone UK and Ghana Telecom, while Parliament ratified an agreement between Vodafone International of Holland and Ghana Telecom. The Director of Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Communications, Mr Issah Yahaya, read out the committee’s findings, dated September 2009, to the Commercial Court, presided over by Mrs Justice Gertrude Torkonoo, and further stated that Parliament was answerable to the Constitution, not vice versa. The committee also recommended that the numerous lapses encountered in the SPA rendered the agreement null and void. Led by counsel for the six plaintiffs who are challenging the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone, Mr Bright Akwetey, the witness said the committee found the SPA inimical to national interest and, therefore, made a number of recommendations aimed at protecting the national interest. Hearing continues on July 9, 2012. The Commercial Court is taking evidence for onward delivery to the Supreme Court to enable the Supreme Court to determine whether or not the sale of GT to Vodafone was constitutional. The plaintiffs in the matter — Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa and five others — sued the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ghana Telecommunications Company Limited and the Registrar-General over the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone. The other plaintiffs, who are all members of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), are Mr Michael Kosi Dedey, Dr Nii Moi Thompson, Naa Kordai Assimeh, Ms Rhodaline Imoru Ayarna and Mr Kwame Jantuah. They are calling for a declaration that the sale of GT is inimical to the public interest. They are, therefore, seeking reliefs from the court, including a declaration that the agreement entered into by the government was not in accordance with due process of law and is, therefore, a nullity. They are also seeking an order declaring that the forcible grouping of autonomous state institutions established by law — Voltacom, Fibreco, VRA Fibre Network and VRA Fibre Assets — with GT to form the purported Enlarged GT Group was unlawful and, therefore, void and of no legal effect. The plaintiffs are further praying for an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the government from disposing of its 70 per cent share in GT to Vodafone or any other foreign company without first exploring avenues for funding and better management in Ghana, among others. In the substantive suit, the plaintiffs are contending that the SPA entered into among the Government of Ghana, GT and Vodafone for the sale of 70 per cent of GT for $900 million was against the public interest and constituted an abuse of the discretionary powers of the government. They said they were opposed to the unlawful establishment of the said Enlarged GT Group, as it undermined the sovereignty of the country and endangered the national security of Ghana. According to them, the decision of the government to transfer the assets, properties, shares, equipment, among others, to Vodafone was obnoxious, unlawful and inimical to the public interest, particularly when no consideration was required to be paid by Vodafone for the stated assets. The plaintiffs argued that the three Ministers of State and the managing director of GT who signed the agreement on behalf of the government did not exercise the requisite level of circumspection required of them as public officers in relation to public property.