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19.05.2008 Regional News

AMA boss finally appears in court over contempt suit

AMA boss finally appears in court over contempt suit
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Stanley Nii Adjiri Blankson, Chief Executive Officer of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), on Monday finally appeared before an Accra Fast Track High Court over a contempt suit slapped on him by an Accra businessman.
Nii Adjiri Blankson is accused of failing to eject hawkers at the Knustford Avenue in the Central Business District.
Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, counsel for Mr. Labib C. Seraphim, owner of Seraphim Department Stores, had earlier told the court about their difficulty in serving Mr Blankson of the court process and this resulted in some adjournments.
He said he had two options, either to serve him personally or substitute him with somebody they could equally serve.
The Court, presided over by Mr. Justice Victor Ofoe said he did not have any proof of service of the respondents.
He said, it was up to counsel for plaintiff to ensure that he was properly served.
The process under which Mr Blankson was served was not made known.
But Mr. Blankson, who was smartly dressed and in the company of security personnel, however, appeared at the court and he has filed his affidavit in opposition to the contempt suit.
The court after inviting the two parties into chambers, fixed May 28, to enable the plaintiff's counsel move the contempt application on the said day.
Mr Seraphim, a businessman, filed a motion on notice to impose a heavy fine on the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and commit its Chief Executive, Nii Adjiri, to prison for refusing to evict hawkers from the Knustford Avenue in the Central Business District.
He is seeking orders that the AMA and its Chief Executive discharge their obligations by evicting hawkers from Knustford Avenue and provide vehicular access to stores in the area.
On February 28, 2005, the plaintiff commenced action against the AMA and on April 10, 2006, the Fast Track High Court granted the plaintiff all the relief he had sought.
The relief included an order compelling AMA to provide vehicular access to the Knustford Avenue and another order restraining the defendants from converting Knustford Avenue into a market.
The court, in granting the relief in its judgment, declared that the action of the AMA in converting the Knustford Avenue into a market for hawkers was unlawful and asked the AMA to discharge its obligation of evicting the hawkers.
It further asked the AMA to provide vehicular access to Knustford Avenue and restrain the Assembly from ever converting the place into a market for hawkers.
The plaintiff said the AMA had for the past two years refused to carry out the orders and the hawkers had continued to exercise "absolute dominion" at the place.
"Respondents' wilful violation of the orders of this court contained in its judgment is infringing on the constitutionally guaranteed property rights of myself and other property owners on the Knustford Avenue."
"The situation is gravely hampering the lawful business activities of myself and other property owners."
The plaintiff contended that in spite of the orders of the court, AMA had erected pillars, which should have been removed as part of the process of executing the court's order.
Plaintiff said the refusal of the respondents to carry out the orders of the court was calculated at interfering with and obstructing the due administration of justice as well as undermining the authority of the court.

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