Government Decision Not To Sell Bungalow - Unconstitutional-Amidu

Mr Martin Amidu - A former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice A former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Martin Amidu, says the government’s decision not to sell the No 2 Mungo Street bungalow to Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey is unconstitutional, 'as the Constitution even forbids legislative judgment over decisions of the Supreme Court'.

Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey purportedly acquired the bungalow he had occupied while serving as a Minister of State in the Kufuor administration but a Deputy Minister of Information, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, and the Deputy Sports Minister, Dr Omane Boamah, then as private citizens, challenged the acquisition in court.

The Supreme Court threw out the case of conflict of interest brought against Obetsebi-Lamptey, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to prove the conflict of interest allegation it had levelled against Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey.

Following the ruling, the Cabinet decided not to sell the bungalow to Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey and also took a decision that no political appointee should ever be allowed to engage in any such unacceptable transaction.

Reacting to the government’s decision in a statement, Mr Amidu said morally the government might be right in opposing ministers or former ministers buying the bungalows in which they lived, but “legally and constitutionally the government’s directive overruling the Supreme Court’s 6-3 majority decision constitutes executive judgment over judicial judgment.

“My professional view is that the government’s decision is unconstitutional, as the Constitution even forbids legislative judgment over decisions of the Supreme Court,” the statement stressed.

It said the government’s decision was against the founding principles of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and indicated that “the government is forever going to be accused of unconstitutional conduct, in spite of any moral arguments. Courts do not decide morals, they decide law, period”.

It said the statement issued by the government on its decision not to sell the property to Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey incited the people of Ghana against the Supreme Court’s ruling with the innuendo that the Supreme Court acted contrary to the supreme interest of the people of Ghana in the exercise of the judicial power entrusted to it under Article 125 (3) and its independence under Article 127(2) and (3) of the Constitution.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that the President’s executive judgment over the decision of the Supreme Court has the tendency to affect the credibility and fortunes of the NDC as a democratic and constitutional party for electoral purposes now and in the future,” it said.

Mr Amidu’s statement said the Constitution and the laws of Ghana provided several legal alternatives for dealing with the decision of the Supreme Court without unconstitutionally calling its integrity into disrepute.

First, it said, court packing had become part of the indecent baggage of constitutional and democratic governance worldwide where most Presidents who had the opportunity during their tenure to make appointments or replacement appointments to the courts chose lawyers or judges whom they perceived to be ideologically ad idem with their politics.

It said President Mills knew that there had been two vacancies on the Supreme Court for him to fill since early or mid-last year which he had not insisted on filling.

Besides, there was evidence in the Ghana Law Reports that Supreme Court justices could be convinced by strong, persuasive and credible argumentation to change their minds in some review applications.

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“The sniper of heart misses only flowers. (Le sniper du cœur - Ne rate que les fleurs)”
By: Charles de Leusse