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24.10.2008 Business & Finance

Twists and turns in Lotto case

By The Statesman

An  Accra Fast Track High Court, presided over by Justice Kofi Ofori-Attah, has set November 4 to rule on an application for stay of execution pending appeal filed by the Ghana Lotto Operators Association.

The decision of the court was taken in the absence of GLOA.

GLOA who were in court earlier on were told that the substantive court which is sitting on the case is not sitting because the trial judge, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, was on vacation.

They therefore took a date to appear before the court on November 6 for hearing.

Surprisingly however, the same case was later called before Justice Ofori-Attah in the absence of GLOA. Counsel for the National Lottery Authority, Kizito Beyuo, told the court that the case has been transferred before him by the Chief Justice.

He informed the court that before entering the courtroom he had met some of the plaintiffs outside and had told them about the transfer of the case.

According to him, the plaintiffs are unable or unwilling to move their application before the new court.

He disclosed that since both parties have filed their applications in the matter the case should be a very simple matter to settle.

 He therefore requested for a short adjournment due to the special nature of the case. It was at this juncture that the court set November 4 as the date to rule on the GLOA application.

GLOA and six other private operating firms on August 21 filed a stay of execution on the decision by an Accra Fast Track High Court not to allow them to operate private lottery in the country.

They are seeking an order from the Court of Appeal to set aside the High Court's ruling on August 20, since according to them, the trial judge erred in law by summarily dismissing their action.

In their grounds of appeal the plaintiffs are praying the Court of Appeal to restore their action for it to be determined on its merit after a proper hearing.

They averred that the judge, Edward Amoako Asante, failed to consider and appreciate the nature and extent of their case as borne out by the relief and pleadings.

At the High Court, the plaintiffs had asked that it declared as "illegal and unreasonable,' an NLA directive to private lotto operators to surrender their machines and equipment used for their operation.

 'The learned judge in summarily dismissing the plaintiffs" case has failed in his duty to give the plaintiffs a fair hearing in a case involving serious issues of facts and several pieces of difference,' they contended.

GLOA stated that their appeal has good grounds and has a great chance of succeeding given the serious errors that culminated in the ruling of the Fast Track Court on August 20, 2008.

They pointed out that a decision of the appellate court reversing the ruling of the Fast Track Court would be rendered nugatory if the enforcement of the said ruling is not injuncted pending the determination of the instant appeal.

They further averred that the Supreme Court in its ruling of July 23 on the constitutional aspect of the case recognized that the plaintiffs 'are not at the mercy of the state in seeking to participate in the state regulatory lottery industry.'