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04.11.2008 Religion

2 Hajj Committees Strike Agreement

By Stephen Kwabena Effah -

THE wrangle over the organisation of this year's Hajj pilgrimage has ended.  An Accra Fast Track High Court yesterday mandated one of the contending parties — the Interim Hajj Management Committee (IHMC) — to organise it.

This follows an out-of-court settlement of the legal tussle between the National Hajj Council (NHC) and the IHMC.

When the case was called, Alhaji Asuma Banda, an influential Muslim figure in Ghana, told the court that the parties had come to an agreement that the case should be withdrawn from court.

The court last Tuesday gave him the opportunity to settle the matter out of court after the NHC had sued the IHMC over the organisation of this year's Hajj by the latter.

The IHMC had sought 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.

“I have managed to get the case settled.  Last night, I got all the parties involved at the National Chief Imam's house and we agreed that the case be withdrawn,” he told the presiding judge, Justice K. A. Ofori-Attah.

Counsel for the NHC, Bright Akwetey, corroborated Alhaji Banda's announcement but said there was still an aspect of the case that would be pursued.  He noted that Alhaji Banda's settlement bordered on an application for an interlocutory injunction which would have prevented the IHMC from organising the Hajj.

His comment prompted the judge to ask Alhaji Banda whether he had indeed settled the case as announced.

“My lord, so far as I am concerned the case is settled.  The Chief Imam has accepted all of them (parties) as his children,” he replied.

Mr Akwetey then told the court that the aspect of the case they would pursue will be to determine who or which body has the mandate of the Muslim community in Ghana to organise Hajj pilgrimages.

In view of this, the court asked the parties in the case and their counsel to meet to draft the terms of settlement that was agreed on and furnish it with a copy of that document.

The case was therefore adjourned to December 1.

The writ filed on October 2, among other things, sought a declaration by the court 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.