Court Annuls President Kufuor's Orders
Justice, Rule of Law at work AN ACCRA Fast Track Court, presided over by his Lordship Justice P. Baffoe Bonnie, has nullified the Transfer of Mr. Kojo Hodari-Okae, by President J. A. Kufuor, from the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) to the Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB), which was effected on September 1, 2002.
Mr. Hodari-Okae, was until the purported transfer by the President, the Deputy Chief Immigration Officer of the GIS. The court ruled that the nature of the transfer and the state in which the transfer placed the plaintiff was such that it was tantamount to wrongful dismissal of the plaintiff.
In its ruling, the court has directed that the former deputy GIS boss should be reinstated to the public service.
Consequently, the court has ordered that the President, who, in exercise of his prerogative powers, transferred Mr. Hodari-Okae from the GIS to the GFZB, and which transfer eventually placed the plaintiff in a situation the court found to be tantamount to wrongful dismissal, directed the place where he is to work.
The judgment noted that Mr. Hodari-Okae was appointed a Principal Immigration officer in 1984 and promoted to the position of Deputy Chief Immigration Officer in 1987.
That, on September 1, 2002, it was announced on air that the president of the republic had authorized the transfer of plaintiff from the GIS to the GFZB. Subsequently, a new person was appointed to replace him at the GIS the next day.
Plaintiff contended that on September 5, 2002 he got his letter, officially informing him of his transfer to the GFZB. According to the plaintiff's claim, contained in the judgment, the said letter, signed by the then Acting Interior Minister, did not indicate his designation at his new place but directed him to hand over to one Ansu Gyeabour, as his replacement at the GIS.
Armed with the official transfer letter, plaintiff went to the GFZB to report to his new boss. But plaintiff was told by the then acting Director of the GFZB that no notification letter had been received by the board on plaintiff's transfer there.
After a few “go and comes”, plaintiff was given an office space to work from but without a job schedule.
A number of memos he wrote to his new boss, asking for his work schedule, were ignored so he later decided to go on leave .It took the intervention of the minister of interior to have the accumulated leave of January to May 2003, granted.
On his return from leave, plaintiff found that his office had been given to a new person and all efforts to have his situation reversed were to no avail.
Mr. Hodari-Okae, with Mr. Akoto Ampaw, as counsel, told the court that with regards to his remuneration, things were no better. Within the first week of his purported transfer, the official security guard at his official bungalow was withdrawn.
At the end of September, he was paid his bare salary without any allowances that went with his position and rank in the service. A 24-hour personal bodyguard for him was withdrawn in November 2002.
In February 2003, the official vehicle he was using as Deputy Director of GIS was seized from him and since the end of August 2003, he had not received any salary.
The ruling further contained that plaintiff had stated in his case that what convinced him that his transfer was a hoax was that sixteen months after his purported transfer i.e. as at December 24, 2003, the GFZB had not received any official notification of his transfer.
In their defence, the Attorney-General, GIS and the Ministry of Interior, who were the first, second and third defendants respectively, had simply stated that the plaintiff's transfer was neither wrongful nor unlawful since as a public servant, he was duty-bound to go to any place that his employer, the state, through the President, decided that his service would be needed.
Defence further stated that failure to give him any work schedule did not or could not amount to a violation of plaintiff's right to work and employment. The second defendant contended that since the plaintiff was no longer in their employ, he could not continue using their vehicle, as his replacement also had the need for the car.
The court noted, “It is obvious from the facts adduced and this is conceded by even counsel for the 1st and 3rd Defendants, that the only logical conclusion from the sequence of things is that the plaintiff has been chucked out of the public service through the backdoor and in a very capricious manner.”
The court further declared, “In this present case, this court has held that the dismissal was a nullity and therefore of no effect. Plaintiff has therefore been ordered to be reinstated in the position he was in before his constructive dismissal. This would mean no loss in rank or seniority.”
“He is (sic) also been declared to be entitled to all his salaries and allowances that went with his rank and status at the time of his purported dismissal.” “This court does not think that the plaintiff is entitled to general damages for wrongful dismissal since his dismissal has been declared null and void, except for nominal damages which is fixed at ¢30 million.”
He was further awarded costs of ¢30 million.