The raging row over the decision by the Ghana Government to withdraw Dr. George Yankey from his post as the President of the newly-constructed ECOWAS Bank for Investment and development took a turn for the worse when the Togolese Prime Minister, Agbeyome Kodjo, gave him an ultimatum to quit his offices and official residence by Monday August 27.
The ultimatum comes in the wake of the ECOWAS Board of Directors Meeting in Lome on Monday to consider preparations made so far for the take-off of the new bank, as well as the fate of Dr. Yankey.
Tears flowed freely at the headquarters of the newly-restructured ECOWAS Bank in Lome when news broke out that Dr. George Yankey has been given an ultimatum to quit offices and residence by Monday August 27.
Many members of staff could not hold back tears as Dr. Yankey, who has defiantly resisted attempts to get him removed from his position as President of the new bank, finally waved goodbye to the staff with whom he has worked over the last few months to prepare the new regulations and structures for the take-off of the new bank.
"It has come to the point where I have to leave because I do not want to become an obstacle to the advancement of the bank", Dr. Yankey told members of staff yesterday.
At the ECOWAS Evaluation Commission, Dr. Yankey came out tops and was subsequently appointed by the Authority of the ECOWAS Heads of State last year.
However, the new Ghana Government demanded Dr. Yankey's withdrawal. But Dr. Yankey resisted, saying that the demand was a clear violation of the provisions of the Revised ECOWAS Treaty which made his appointment statutory and therefore outside the jurisdiction of Ghana.
But just as the ECOWAS Board of Directors was scheduled to meet in Lome to decide on Dr. Yankey's fate, the bombshell dropped last Friday by the Togolese Prime Minsiter, reported as saying, "Togo does not want to engage in any fracas with Ghana".
Meanwhile, the alleged non-compliance with the procedures regarding the appointment and withdrawal of statutory officers appointed by the Authority of the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government has generated a war of words at the ongoing Board of Directors meeting in Lome with Ghana's Minister for Planning and Regional Integration, Dr. Kwesi Nduom, putting up a spirited damage-repair posture.
According to the ECOWAS Revised Treaty, the Executive Secretary shall be appointed by the Authority for a four-year period. He can only be removed from office by the Authority for a four-year term renewable only once for another four-year period. He can only be removed from office by the Authority upon its own initiative, or upon the recommendation of the Council of Ministers.
Dr. George Yankey, whose appointment is statutory, claims he has been victimised because neither the Council of Ministers nor the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State met to decide upon the decision by the Ghana government to withdraw support for his appointment.
Dr. Yankey is understood to have filed a writ at an Abuja High Court challenging the decision to remove him as arbitrary, illegal, and tantamount to a violation of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty, which duly legalised his contract for a period of four years.
The Abuja High Court granted Dr. Yankey, an Interlocutory Injunction against his removal from office, Dr. Bimbolla Ogunekulu, Nigeria's Minister for Co-operation and Integration in Africa, said that, "Nigeria firmly believes in the rule of law, so it may be prudent to await the outcome of the due process of the law courts".
Said an observer: "The best solution is to seek the intervention of the ECOWAS Council of Elders to bring about an amicable settlement to the brouhaha" about Dr. Yankey's appointment because ECOWAS is about the rule of law, justice and equity.