Sunday, June 30, 2013
Joe Ghartey to tesify in sale of Ghana Telecom case (Page 29)
The Commercial Court in Accra on June 17, 2013, summoned the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joe Ghartey, to appear before it and testify in the litigation involving the sale of Ghana Telecom (GT) to Vodafone.
An original subpoena was served on Mr Ghartey sometime last year and as a result, he appeared in court in the company of his lawyer, Mr Frank Davies, on May 22, 2012, but the court could not hear him because a witness from the Ministry of Communication was by then in the box testifying.
Mr Ghartey was, therefore, granted leave to absent himself until the court was ready for him.
The mantle finally fell on Mr Ghartey yesterday but he was absent because it emerged he had probably not been served with a new hearing notice.
Although, the court’s record indicated that at 9.50 am on June 14, 2013, the Clerk of Parliament had been served with a hearing notice with the previous subpoena issued in 2012 attached, it was not clear whether or not Mr Ghartey had received the said hearing notice.
From that, the presiding judge, Mrs Justice Gertrude Torkonoo, a Court of Appeal judge with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, issued a new subpoena and adjourned the case to Monday, June 24, 2013.
She also directed that a hearing notice be served on Mr Ghartey by June 20, 2013.
Counsel for the persons challenging the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone, Mr Bright Akwetey, had informed the court that Mr Ghartey was expected to appear before the court Monday but was not sure if the Clerk of Parliament had served him with a copy of the hearing notice.
Six witnesses drawn from the Volta River Authority (VRA), the National Communication Backbone Authority, the Ministry of Communication, the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo), ECOBANK Development Corporation and the Ministry of Finance, have so far testified in the hearing.
The litigation on the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone resumed at the Commercial Court in April, 2012, following the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of an application for stay of proceedings at the Commercial Court.
Vodafone had gone to the Court of Appeal praying the court to stay proceedings at the Commercial Court, as well as stop the court from receiving documents on the sale of Ghana Telecom to
Vodafone with the reason that the Supreme Court, which was billed to hear constitutional aspects relating to the transaction, had not requested for such documents.
Following the Court of Appeal’s decision, the Commercial Court, on April 4, 2012, continued taking evidence.
In October, 2009, the Commercial Court presided over by Mr Justice Henry Kwofie, ruled that it was not competent to deal with issues bordering on the constitutionality or otherwise of the sale and accordingly in November, 2009, Mr Justice Kwofie referred issues on the constitutionality or otherwise of the sale of Ghana Telecom to the Supreme Court for determination.
However, the Supreme Court in March, 2010 described the referral as premature. The court was of the view that some relevant materials which raised fundamental issues had not been put before it by the lower court and accordingly directed the lower court to gather relevant documents to enable the Supreme Court to decide thoroughly.
Thus, Mrs Justice Torkonoo is currently taking evidence for onward delivery to the Supreme Court for determination.
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, and they are calling for a declaration that the sale of GT is inimical to the public interest.
They are 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 requesting for 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.
They are contending among others 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.