Supreme Court Decides On Jake Bungalow
5/10/2012 5:05:07 PM -
The Supreme Court presided over by Justice William Atuguba yesterday adjourned the verdict on whether or not Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), had the right to purchase a government bungalow.
The adjournment became necessary yesterday because one of the justices was not available to enable the court to give judgment.
The presiding judge in the case, Justice Atuguba, explained that the panel could not sit because one of his colleagues was indisposed.
Other members of the panel were Justices Sophia Akuffo, S. A. Brobbey, Sophia Adinyira, Rose Owusu, Jones Dotse, Baffoe Bonnie, B. T. Aryeetey and Vida Akoto Bamfo.
However, he did not mention the name of the said judge and consequently had the case adjourned to May 23, 2012.
This is a case in which Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, a Deputy Minister for Information and Dr. Omane Boamah, Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports have accused the NPP chairman of conflict of interest.
The two ministers have taken the issue to the Supreme Court seeking an interpretation of Articles 20 (5) and 20 (6) of the constitution regarding ownership of state property.
The court is also expected to decide if the buying of state property by the NPP Chairman, who was then Minister for Tourism, amounted to gross abuse of discretionary powers of a public officer.
Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey and his wife, as well as the two ministers, were in court.
Dr. Benjamin Kunbour, Attorney-General, at the last hearing, told the court that the state would like to rely on their earlier statement of case. This was when he was asked by the justices if they would like to add anything to what they had already filed.
Kwabena Senanu, counsel for the ministers, also told the court he would rely on their amended statements of case, after which Frank Arthur, counsel for Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey, also said they would rely on their statement of case.
Justice Atuguba then announced the date for judgement.
In the course of the hearing, a preliminary objection raised by counsel for Obetsebi-Lamptey, that the court had no mandate to hear a case brought before it by the two ministers, was dismissed. His argument was that the right procedure was for the plaintiffs to apply to the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) if they thought his client was abusing his office by applying to purchase the bungalow.
The nine-member panel noted that although the case passed for a land case, which fell within the domain of the High Court, the plaintiffs were not laying claim to the property in question but rather sought an interpretation of several provisions of the Constitution regarding state property ownership.
According to Justice Atuguba, it had jurisdiction by law and precedents to hear the case which bordered both on constitutionality and public interest.
Justice Adinyira also noted that where there was a case of conflict of interest in the administration of public lands, the constitution conferred the right on the public to take action to protect the state.
That, she stated, would ensure that public officers did not breach the constitution to ensure probity, accountability and good governance.
In 2008, Mr. Ablakwa and Dr. Boamah brought the action against the NPP Chairman, seeking a declaration from the court that he had no right to buy the bungalow he was occupying at the time at No 2 Mungo Street in the Ridge residential area.
By Fidelia Achama