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10.02.2009 Business & Finance

Legal battle ensues in court…over sale of GT shares

By Ivy Benson - Ghanaian Chronicle
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The intent of the legal suit initiated by some members of the Convention People's Party (CPP), against the Attorney-General and Ghana Telecom (GT), on the sale of seventy per cent shares in the nation's telecommunication company, yesterday became a subject of controversy, as parties in the suit shared different interpretations before an Accra Commercial (High) Court.

While counsel for the plaintiffs, Mr. Bright Akwettey, explained that his clients were not seeking to challenge the constitutionality of the approval granted by parliament to the sale agreement of GT entered into, Mrs. P. J. Naana Dontoh, Chief State Attorney, noted otherwise.

Mr. Akwettey maintained his stance, emphasising that at the time the legal suit commenced at the court, Parliament had not ratified the sales agreement, however the Chief State Attorney expressed her view that by the import of the affidavit filed before the court, plaintiffs were indeed disputing the constitutionality of parliamentary ratification given to the controversial 70% share sale of GT to Vodafone International Holdings BV of the United Kingdom (UK).

The court, presided over by Justice Amidu Tanko, therefore, demanded parties to the suit submit their legal addresses on the issue, and tackle issues of jurisdiction, locus standi, defects in the sales agreement being cured by parliamentary approval, some articles in the sales agreement contravening the 1992 Constitution, among others, which were settled on for determination during a pre-trial session, conducted after the suit was instituted.

The court ordered counsel for the plaintiffs to file his address within 14 days from yesterday, while defendants file their addresses within 14 days from the day they are served with plaintiffs' address.

Additionally, the court asked that plaintiffs may respond within seven days, on issues raised in defendants' addresses, after being served with the document.

Sitting was therefore adjourned to March 16, this year, for verbal arguments, after which a ruling would be made.

The plaintiffs include Prof. Agyeman Badu Akosa, Kosi Dedey, and Dr. Nii Moi Thompson.

The rest are Naa Kordai Assimeh, Ms. Rodaline Imoru Ayarna, as well as Mr. Kwame Jantuah.

Plaintiffs are challenging, among others, that procedure adopted prior to, and leading to the placement of the sales and purchase agreement before Parliament for ratification, contravened the company's code and the Constitution.

The Government of Ghana, on July 3, last year, signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement with Vodafone, to sell off 70% of the former's stake in GT to the latter at an approximate value of US$1.3 billion, plus a cash injection of US$500 million, totaling US$1.8 billion.

The Sale and Purchase Agreement was consequently ratified by the Parliament of Ghana on August 14, 2008, giving its full backing to the agreement entered into.