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02.10.2008 General News

Turmoil at GBA

By myjoyonline
Turmoil at GBA

There appears to be no end in sight for the recent controversy that has engulfed the Ghana Bar Association.

If anything, the future of the association looks all the more threatened with fears of a possible split.

An Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Kumasi to discuss topical issues affecting the association, and to elect new executives, ended with members adrift over the way to tread and the course of action to take.

The frustration built up from the just ended AGM, leaked to the studios of Joy FM with two members of the association Mr. Ernest Owusu Dapaah and Mr. David Asiedu divided over issues of law and procedure that characterised events at the AGM.

In a back-to-back interview with Akwasi Sarpong the two lawyers tactfully avoided to discuss the reason for the division on air, but those could not be farfetched.

Nii Osah Mills, President of the Bar Association was forced to resign on the eve of the AGM following comments that the incarcerated former Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Tsatsu Tsikata, also a member of the Bar, did not get a fair trial.

Before his resignation, Nii Osah Mills remained the sole candidate who had filed for re-election as president of the Bar.

Explaining events at the AGM, Mr. Dapaah who is also a law lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology said the electoral committee of the bar association failed to act in accordance with its own constitution.

"The constitution stipulates that elected officers have a period of one year, but are eligible for re-election in the next AGM.
Interested candidates then notifies the Electoral Officers three months before the next election to enable them (electoral officers) publish the names as means of information to all regional members prior to the AGM."

According to Mr. Dapaah, this was not done by the members of the Electoral committee.

But his compatriot had a different impression of the entire proceedings.

Mr. David Asiedu said justice, and right to free speech guaranteed to lawyers were curtailed, as they were gagged throughout the entire proceedings.

“Lawyers had been at the fore front for fighting all forms of injustice, we canvassed lofty ideas such as democracy and what happened today was anything but democratic,” he charged

Mr. Asiedu said a motion, content of which he failed to give, was forced down the throats members, prompting a mass walk out from the conference room.

“One would have thought that members of the association would have been given the opportunity to speak for or against the motion. With over 400 members in the conference room only a few people were made to speak. It was as if there were a set of coup masters speaking down to their children. We are trained lawyers for God sake,” he lamented.

He said, the few who stayed behind, eventually became winners of the motion, something he described as a travesty of rule of law and democracy.

Asked whether the development could split the association, Mr. Asiedu was blunt: “I believe it has already been split, and that is my fear. I think it will be a great misfortune if the bar becomes splinted and splinted groups can be associated with any political groupings. And if the bar becomes a splinted group the people of Ghana are better off not knowing about the existence of such an association.”

Even though he admitted that there were some lapses in the proceedings of the conference, Mr. Dapaah chided the option taken Mr. Asiedu and other members of the bar to walk out.

He said aggrieved members should have stayed behind to make their voices heard.

The election of substantive executives of the association has been adjourned till November 15.

Story by Nathan Gadugah

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