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20.03.2007 General News

Battle over hotel, Counsel and Attorney General cross words

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Almost eight years after the Pier Hotel near the Kotoka International Airport was razed down, Counsel for the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Francis Kojo Smith in pursuance of a request for an amicable settlement of the case with the plaintiff, has crossed words with the Attorney General.

The hotel, belonging to Alhaji Yusif Ibrahim was razed down under the Rawlings administration through the AMA but the plaintiff has sought to pursue the matter for compensation.

However, the argument ensued in the wake of the recommendation made by Mr Kojo Smith to the Minister of Defense, requesting an amicable settlement to avoid further litigation and which was agreed by both the plaintiff and the defendants.

The action has generated a side brawl as Chief Legal Advisor of the government, Joe Ghartey, has condemned the recommendation of the AMA lawyer and threatened to report his conduct to the General Legal Council.

This occurred after scorning the senior lawyer's advice and generating a heated rebuttal from Mr Smith, aide to Jerry Rawlings.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General underscored his stance with Article 88 of 1992 Constitution as the Chief Legal Advisor to the government and the person who defends civil suits on behalf of the government, emphasising, “I have not instructed you orally or in writing on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.

“Having regards to the steps that you have taken in this matter, I have no option but to advise the AMA to take steps to be represented by other Legal Counsel. And also, kindly desist from putting yourself out as representing the Ministry of Defence, otherwise you will leave me with no option than to report your conduct to the General Legal Council,” stated Mr Ghartey in a letter dated March 14, this year to Mr Kojo Smith and signed by him.

In his letter under the caption “Alhaji Yusif Ibrahim and Others Vrs. AMA Suit No. FTC IV/2001”, the Attorney General wrote: “We want to draw your attention to the fact that the Ministry of Defence is not party to the action and therefore your communication with them is improper.

“We have advised the Ministry of Defence to treat the communication with the contempt that it deserves,” the Minister wrote and challenged that it was difficult for him to understand how he (Smith) could purport to settle the matter on behalf of a client whom he did not represent.

Source: The Chronicle