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28.10.2008 General News

Asuma Bandah nearly lynched

By Ghanaian Times
Asuma Bandah nearly lynched

Alhaji Asuma Bandah, the influential Muslim personality, was nearly beaten yesterday by some angry Muslims who were not comfortable with his action to settle a legal tussle between the National Hajj Council (NHC) and the Interim Hajj Management Committee (lHMC) out of court.

Alhaji Bandah had gone to the Fast Track High Court to intervene in a pending court action in which the NHC has sued the IHMC over the organisation of this year's Haij being handled by the latter.

In the suit, the NHC is seeking a declaration by the court that it is the “sole and legitimate body charged with the responsibility by the Muslim community to organise Hajj in Ghana.”

When the case was called, Mr. Bright Akwetey, counsel for the NHC, told the court that he had been approached by some elders of the Muslim community including Alhaji Banda, who want the case settled out court. He noted that should Ghana fail to send pilgrims for this year's hajj, it will be banned for five years, which may not augur well for the Muslim community in the country.

When given the opportunity by Justice Ofori to address the court, the business magnate said: “I was not asked by any of the factions to get the case settled out of court, but I am here as a concerned elder."

He said his action was aimed at ensuring that "we get our people to Mecca," adding it will be wrong on his part as a true Muslim, to sit down without doing anything about the turn of events.

"This is a delicate issue and I am relinquishing my business to make this issue my business," he pointed out.

But just when he finished addressing the packed court, some of the Muslims who were not happy with his decision began murmuring, a situation which prompted the court orderlies to call for "order in Court".

In view of this, the court adjourned the case to November 3, for the parties to come and announce to the court the outcome of the settlement.

Immediately Alhaji Banda stepped out of the court room he was greeted with insults by the supporters of the IHMC. "You are a lair", "useless man like you", "You are not our elder" were some of the insults rained on him.

Some of them also attempted to pounce on him and one of the police officers, who were at the court premises, prevented the angry supporters from beating Alhaji Bandah up.

The police managed to escort him into his car before the supporters left the premises.

The writ filed on October 2, among other things, want a declaration that the IHMC does not have the mandate of the Muslim community to organise Hajj operations in Ghana, and an order requesting the office of the Vice President to unblock access of the NHC to diplomatic facilities for this year's Hajj.

Further, the plaintiff is praying the Court to request the office of the Vice President to desist from interfering, with the work of the NHC regarding Hajj operations as well as refund in full, the airfares paid and other expenses made by the 728 stranded pilgrims last year plus interest on their airfares at the prevailing bank rate.

"An order restraining the defendants from making any public statement or statements in private for the mobilisation of funds for the 2008 hajj," the writ stared.