Gbevlo Lartey Fined In Court
An Accra High Court has slapped a GH¢300 cost against Lt. Col Larry Gbevlo Lartey, the National Security Co-ordinator, for failing to appear before it in the case in which former staff of National Security Council (NSC) are suing the co-ordinator and the Attorney-General for sacking them without paying them their end-of-service benefits.
Neither the National Security Co-ordinator nor his representative, except on one occasion, has been appearing before the court as the first defendant of the suit since the case was called for the first time on October 28, 2010. However, the representative of the AG has been honouring the court's invitation except yesterday when he failed to appear.
Apart from October 28, subsequent adjournments were on November 8, November 26 and December 7, 2010 but on all the dates, the Security capo failed to make appearances, compelling the court presided over by Justice C.J. Honyenuga of the Court of Appeal to award the cost against the defendants.
When the case was called, Captain Nkrabea Effah-Darteh (rtd), counsel for the dismissed security officers, complained to the court about the National Security Co-ordinator's attitude towards the matter, saying there had not been a single date that he (Mr. Gbevlo-Lartey) had appeared before the court.
He told the court that most of the plaintiffs were not residing in Accra and had had to travel from all over the country to attend the court's sitting, urging the judge to award cost of GH¢1,000 against the defendants.
The 88 plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that each of them is entitled to be paid his or her benefit, as well as an order directing the authorities to pay them their benefits upon termination of appointment, in line with the conditions governing their employment as staff of the NSC Secretariat.
They are contending that they were fully employed as regular staff of the NSC Secretariat.
According to them, they were all employed under the security intelligence agencies law of 1996, Act 526, and the other relevant laws governing the public service, after being interviewed and examined thoroughly.
They claimed even though the President acknowledged their dedicated and loyal service to the state, each of them had his appointment terminated as staff, as they were wrongly perceived as political appointees of the previous political administration under President JA Kufuor.
They said although they had been paid three months' salary in a partial fulfillment of the conditions governing termination, they were still entitled to their end-of-service benefit.
When they petitioned the authorities for payment to be done, it was ignored. Again, they said their solicitors wrote a series of letters, praying for the payment but to no avail.
'It is obvious that unless the 88 plaintiffs seek the intervention of the courts, the defendants have no intention of satisfying the regulations governing the public service which includes payment of just earned benefit upon termination of appointment,' they stressed.
However, the defendants have denied that the plaintiffs were sacked because they were perceived to be political appointees of the previous administration but said their appointments were terminated on grounds that their services were no longer required.
The defendants said the plaintiffs were paid 3 months' salary as the full payment due them and further contended that the plaintiffs were not entitled to any end-of-service benefits as alleged in their conditions of service and therefore would put them to strict proof.
The defendants submitted that they would raise a preliminary-legal point during the hearing to suggest that the National Security Coordinator was not a proper person or body to be sued in this matter and therefore would seek the court to strike off the case against him.
Sitting continues on December 17, 2010.
By William Yaw Owusu