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02.04.2007 General News

Court rescinds arrest order for Minister

By myjoyonline

A Fast Track High Court (FTC) presided over by Justice Victor Ofoe on Thursday rescinded an absconding warrant issued for the arrest of the Deputy Interior Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu for his failure to appear in court after a motion for contempt of court was filed against him by some three auctioneers.

The withdrawal of the order came when the Deputy Minister appeared in court with his counsel, Hon. Kwame Osei Prempeh, Deputy Attorney General to plead for mercy.

According to the Deputy Attorney General, it was not their intention to flout the orders of the court and that they believed that they had reached an amicable solution with counsel for the applicants.

He told the Court that during a discussion held by the two parties, an agreement had been reached that the auctioneers' license would be issued to the three applicants.

However, the Court has asked that counsel for the applicant, who was not in Court should appear on April 17, 2007, to respond to the submissions made by the Deputy Attorney General.

The committal of contempt of Court was brought against the Deputy Minister, who is also the Chairman of the Auctioneers Registration Board, following his refusal to comply with an earlier judgement ordering him to renew their Auctioneer licences to enable them operate in the country.

The motion, initially moved by counsel for the applicant on February 19, this year with subsequent hearing on March 13 as well as March 27 saw neither the Deputy Minister of Interior nor his lawyer, the Attorney General, in court to answer for the case brought against the respondent.

An order issued by the court on March 13, this year, indicated that the Attorney General, who has the responsibility of defending "such persons" be served with the court documents and if the respondent and his counsel fail to appear in the court the case will proceed.

An affidavit signed by A1haji Abdullah K.S. Williams on behalf of his two other co-applicants: Ben Wojogbe and Calvis Okine, in support of their application to commit the respondent for contempt of court, noted that the court's judgement dated November 15, 2005 pronounced them as qualified auctioneers.

Applicants indicated further that the court made an order directing the Board to renew their licences, which the latter blatantly refused to comply with and on the contrary warned them by a letter dated January 31, 2006, not to practice as auctioneers for as long as their licences had not been renewed.

According to the applicants, the refusal of the board to renew their licences was a deliberate attempt in response to what Board members considered to be an affront to their powers for being hauled before the court.

In furtherance of their arguments, applicants were of the view that members of the Auctioneer Registration Board seem to be of the opinion that if the licenses were renewed, they would have a monopoly over the auction sale business to the disadvantage of “quack auctioneers who were in the good books of the board."

In support of the board's refusal to renew the licences for the applicants, the latter noted that the board resorted to giving various excuses for not renewing their licences but finally dissolved the board without any public notice which applicants noted “suggested clearly that the Board members were in no mood to be ordered about by the High court to do what they had sworn not to do."

Subsequently, the Auction Sales Law was amended to give extensive powers to the Board to license auctioneers who were otherwise prohibited under the law, applicants emphasized, adding that without knowing when the board was reconstituted it published new guidelines meant for the renewal of Auctioneers Licences.

As a result, applicants noted that they applied to the board to renew their licences, which at the time of filing the court processes, the board had refused to renew without any cause.

Culled from The Chronicle

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