The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has denied ever coercing its former national president, Nii Osah Mills, to resign.
According to the GBA, at its Bar conference in Kumasi on October 30, 2008, Nii Mills, on his own volition, read out a written statement he had prepared himself to the conference to announce his resignation from office.
It said in his statement, Nii Mills also withdrew his nomination and apologised for whatever harm he might have caused the association.
In its statement of defence in response to a writ filed by three members of the association who accused the National Executive Committee (NEC) of demanding the resignation of Nii Mills, the GBA said it had not breached the Constitution.
Nana Ato Dadzie, Mr Chris Arcmann-Ackumey and Mr James Abiaduka are 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”.
They, therefore, prayed the court to declare as illegal the demand and the request of the NEC on Nii Mills to resign his position as national president.
Nii Mills was reported to have visited Tsikata, the former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) who is serving 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.
But the GBA insisted that Nii Mills resigned after he admitted that he had caused embarrassment to members of the GBA based on the comments he had passed regarding Tsikata's incarceration on a private radio station.
“The defendant says that on the basis of those admissions, the General Council requested Nii Osah Mills to resign from his position as national president of the defendant, having considered that these statements he made were prejudicial to matters then pending for adjudication before the Supreme Court and constituted gross misconduct,” the statement of defence pointed out.
The defendant further denied that it had infringed on the constitutional rights of Nii Mills by mounting an intense and unreasonable pressure on him to step down as President of the GBA.
According to the GBA, Nana Dadzie and Mr Abiaduka were not qualified to institute the action because they were “not members in good standing as at the date of their alleged cause of action occurred, having only paid their dues for the period 2000 and 2007 to 2008 respectively on November 4, 2008, the day they filed this action”.
The GBA said the action by the plaintiffs had no basis in law and for that matter it was wholly misconceived and completely erroneous and ought to be dismissed by the court.
The three plaintiffs have, meanwhile, 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 2008 or on any other date until the final determination of the case.
Following the institution of the suit, the defendant has suspended the holding of elections to elect a national president until the final determination of the suit.
It has, however, appointed an acting president, Mr Kwami Tetteh.
Earlier, counsel for the parties argued in the name of procedural matters and accused each other of not following laid down procedures.
Counsel for the plaintiffs, Mr Kwabla Senanu, had argued that solicitors for the GBA did not have licences to operate, and that they had short-served him with the statement of defence and affidavit in opposition, among others.
However, counsel for the GBA, Mr Ace Ankomah, said his colleague's arguments were misplaced and not based on issues of law and also accused the plaintiffs of not providing their residential addresses on their writ of summons as required by law.
Another counsel for the defendant, Mr C. B. K. Zwennes, argued that there was no rule which required solicitors to state their licence numbers, adding that the plaintiffs had committed grave procedural errors for which the court must move to strike out their motion.
After lengthy and sometimes heated arguments on procedural matters from both sides, the court fixed November 27, 2008 as the date for hearing the motion for interlocutory injunction.
In the substantive writ, the plaintiffs are also praying the court to declare as illegal the purported nullification of Nii Mills' nomination for the office of national president.
Story by Mabel Aku Baneseh