'Vodafone wasn't on GT sale shortlist'
A witness has told the Accra Commercial Court that Vodafone International BV was not part of the final companies shortlisted to buy the government's 70 per cent shares in Ghana Telecommunications Limited.
According to Mr. Benjamin Adu, a technical member on the Inter-Ministerial Review Committee which looked into the transaction, although Vodafone made it to the initial companies that bid for the shares, it was rejected at the final shortlist.
Mr. Adu, a communications engineer by profession, said this on Tuesday when he testified in a mini-trial to gather evidence for the Supreme Court to make a determination of some constitutional matters arising out of the legal tussle.
On how Vodafone won the bid, he said the committee could not find out the reason but said it emerged at its sitting that Vodafone came back to the table after former President John Agyekum Kufuor had held meetings with the company's officials.
He told the court, presided over by Justice Gertrude Torkonoo, that following its meetings with President Kufuor, Vodafone made an offer which was accepted by the government and a team was set up to draft the Sales and Purchase Agreement, (SPA). The agreement is now a major subject of litigation.
Touching on whether the National Communications Authority gave the government any advice regarding the sale transaction, Mr. Adu said the committee found no evidence of that or any evidence to show that it evaluated the sale transaction.
Per the NCA Act (Act 524), he said the NCA was to have publicised the transaction and waited for responses or comments, to be followed by evaluation of those comments before it could give any advice.
"To my knowledge, we didn't see any evidence that Vodafone applied for a 3G licence. The committee found that it was included in the agreement," Mr. Adu told the court, when asked whether Vodafone paid for the licence.
He said after the transaction had been finalised and approved by Parliament, the NCA wrote to Vodafone requesting it to make payments for the 3G licence, and Vodafone wrote to the Communications Ministry which notified the NCA to clarify that the licence fee was part of the total sum of the SPA.
Hearing continues today, Wednesday, August 22, 2012.
The court action was initiated in October 2008 by Prof. Agyeman Badu Akosa, Michael Kosi Dedey, Dr Nii Moi Thompson, Naa Kordai Assimeh, Ms Rhodaline Imoru Ayarna and Mr Kwame Jantuah, all members of the Convention People's Party, in their capacity as citizens.
They are contending that the Sale and Purchase Agreement entered by the Government of Ghana, GT and Vodafone for the sale of 70 per cent of GT for 900 million dollars, was against public interest and constituted an abuse of the discretionary powers of the government.
According to them, the decision by the government to transfer the assets, property, shares and equipment, among others, to Vodafone was "obnoxious, unlawful and inimical to the public interest".
The group 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.
The plaintiffs are, therefore, seeking reliefs from the court, including a declaration that the agreement entered into by the government was not in accordance with the due process of law and was therefore a nullity.