Decision On 'Jake Bungalow' Could Lead To Judgement Debt - GBA
The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) has expressed concern about the rising judgement debts resulting from the government’s actions and inactions.
The association urged the government to take the necessary steps to avoid such debts and the inevitable run on already scarce resources.
A statement jointly signed by Frank W K Beecham, National President and Peter Zwennes, National Secretary of the GBA, carried this concern especially after the recent decision of the Cabinet to keep hold of the public bangalow purchased by a former minister in the previous administration, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey.
Though it acknowledged the right of the government to conduct itself in any manner it considered fit, it advised that mind be paid to the obligations the law imposed on it.
The Cabinet’s decision came in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling which cleared the former minister, now chairman of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), of any wrong-doing, with the acquisition of the bungalow, which he occupied as a minister.
Subsequent to the Cabinet decision, the statement noted that there had been quite a number of commentaries, statements and views expressed by various persons and institutions suggesting immorality, unconstitutionality and disregard for contractual obligations.
“The Bar recognises the right of the government to act, but within constraints of its contractual obligations contained in the lease document executed between the governemnt (as leaser) and Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey (as leasee), and to statutory obligations under the provisions of the Conveyancing Act, 1973 (NCRD).
“The Bar also recognises the power of the government to compulsorily take possession of or acquire any property in the public interest, or for a public purpose, in accordance with Article 20 of the constitution and the State Land Act, 1962 (Act 125)”.
“In this regard, while the Bar respects the right of the government to conduct itself in any manner that it considers fit with respect to the announced cabinet decision, we respectfully urge the government to be very mindful of the obligations that the law imposes on it, in this matter,” it said.
From the standpoint of the Bar on the Okudzeto-Ablakwa and Attorney-General’s case, the statement said it was perfectly legitimate to raise the questions that the plaintiffs raised, with respect to the acquisition of state property by politicians or any other persons.
“We, however, cannot disagree with the Supreme Court that to successfully impugn any of the grounds alleged by the standards of proof imposed on and required of all plaintiffs appearing before our courts, by law”.
The statement expressed the hope that more public-spirited persons would be willing and prepared to raise before the courts, such issues of national importance, which would not only enrich the constitutional jurisprudence and land law, but contribute to a debate that should result in establishing more effort to build a prosperous democratic country.