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18.11.2008 General News

Three Lawyers Drag GBA To Court

Three lawyers have dragged the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) to court for demanding the resignation of the former national President of the GBA, Nii Osah Mills.

The three are praying the court to declare that the demand and the request of the NEC on Nii Mills to resign his position as national president were illegal and contrary to law.

According to the lawyers, although Nii Mills had not formally put his purported resignation into writing, the defendant association, spearheaded by some members of the NEC, had undoubtedly “executed a coup” purporting to have ousted Nii Mills from his democratically elected office as national president.

Nana Ato Dadzie, Mr Chris Arcmann-Ackumey and Mr James Abiaduka are also praying the court to declare that comments which were purported to have been made by Nii Mills which bordered on the incarceration of Tsatsu Tsikata were “lawful comments made in his legitimate position as national president of the association”.

“The comments by the national president were not only responsible but also within the permitted limits of law relating to the right of the public to and the freedom of speech generally,” the plaintiffs argued.

Nii Mills was reported to have visited Tsikata, the former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) who is facing a five-year jail term, at the Nsawam Medium Security Prison and expressed his misgivings about the circumstances leading to Tsikata's incarceration.

Following the announcement of his resignation by the NEC of the GBA, fresh nominations were received for his position but the three lawyers filed a suit at the Accra High Court praying the court to declare Nii Mills as the sole and valid nominee for the position of national president for the 2009 election.

According to the plaintiffs, the defendant had infringed on the constitutional rights of Nii Mills on the grounds that the defendant mounted an intense and unreasonable pressure on Nii Mills to step down as President of the GBA on September 30, 2008, a day before the opening of the bar conference in Kumasi.

“In the face of the said verbal harassment, threats and duress, the National President, Nii Mills, out of frustration and irritation, uttered words to the effect that he had resigned or threatened to resign from his position as National President of the defendant association,” they said.

Consequently, the three have filed a motion on notice for an order of interlocutory injunction to restrain the NEC or its agents from holding a fresh election to elect a national president on November 15, 2008 or on any other date until the final determination of the case.

The motion on notice for an order of interlocutory injunction would be moved on November 18, 2008.

In the substantive writ, the plaintiffs are also praying the court to declare as illegal the purported nullification of Nii Mills's nomination for the office of national president.

They are further appealing to the court to state that the call for fresh nominations for the office of the national president after the close of nominations was illegal and contrary to the constitution of the GBA.

A statement of case accompanying the plaintiffs' writ stated, among others, that the defendant did not have power or authority to demand or compel the duly elected national president to resign or vacate his post as national president.

According to the plaintiffs, the purported removal and declaration of the position was illegal and contrary to the constitution of the defendant association, adding that the action of the defendant breached the rules of natural justice, as well as constituted a breach or violation of the fundamental human rights of Nii Mills.

Plaintiffs further stated that the decision, conduct and actions of the Bar Council/General Council of the defendant association was undemocratic and contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana and the same must be struck down as such.

“Plaintiffs will contend that, in any case, the purported grounds on which the NEC of the defendant association demanded the resignation of the plaintiff as national president was illegal and insupportable at law,” the statement of case pointed out.

The plaintiffs averred that Nii Mills and some members of the NEC had been mandated by the NEC, together with the national executives, to visit Tsikata, a senior member of the GBA.

They further stated that Nii Mills was obliged to respond to media enquiries relating to matters of interest to the GBA.

According to the plaintiffs, Nii Mills had made certain comments on the case involving Tsikata's incarceration in his capacity as the National President of the GBA.

“The national president's comments were regular and a fair and lawful comment on a trial that had been concluded involving the said incarcerated member,” the statement of claim stated, among others.

Story by Mabel Aku Baneseh