The Commercial Court hearing the litigation on the sale of Ghana Telecom (now Vodafone) will, on October 12, 2009, decide whether or not an agreement executed by the government and ratified by Parliament can be challenged in the High Court.
The plaintiffs in the matter, Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa and five others, who sued the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Ghana Telecommunications Company Limited and the Registrar General over the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone B.V. International, are praying the court to vary the issue set out for trial which bordered on whether or not a party could challenge an agreement ratified by Parliament at the High Court.
The other plaintiffs, who are all members of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), are Mr Michael Kosi Dedey, Dr Nii Moi Thompson, Naa Kordai Assimeh, Ms Rhodaline Imoru Ayarna and Mr Kwame Jantuah. Arguing the case for the plaintiffs at the courts sitting in Accra yesterday, Mr Bright Akwetey told the court that after carefully examining issues set out for trial, it appeared the issue in contention was highly prejudicial because it created the impression that the plaintiffs were raising issues of constitutionality.
He said his clients were not challenging the constitutionality of the ratification of the agreement by Parliament.And that position is founded on the grounds that the plaintiffs filed the suit against government and the Ghana Telecom on August 11, 2008 before Parliament approved the agreement on August 14, 2008. The centre piece of our case is against the provisions in the agreement that was executed on July 3, 2008 by the government, Mr Akwetey argued.
Opposing his colleagues application, counsel for Ghana Telecom, Mr Festus Kayi, said the issues being opposed by the plaintiffs were contained in an order by a pre-trial judge at the Commercial Court after parties had failed to reach a settlement. He said the plaintiffs could, therefore, not seek to vary the order by alleging that the issue on whether or not one can challenge an agreement ratified by Parliament at the High Court was prejudicial.
Counsel also argued that the pleadings by the applicants raised very important constitutional issues and he would refer the court to them during the trial. Mr Kayi also stated that the plaintiffs, having admitted in the amended statement of claim that Parliament had ratified the agreement in question, could not question the execution of the agreement or its provisions without raising a constitutional issue.
The court, presided over by Mr Justice Amadu Tanko, fixed October 12, 2009 as the date for ruling on the matter. In the substantive suit, the plaintiffs are contending that the Sale and Purchase Agreement entered into among the Government of Ghana, GT and Vodafone for the sale of 70 per cent of GT for $900 million was against the public interest and constituted an abuse of the discretionary power of the government.
The plaintiffs said they were opposed to the unlawful establishment of the said Enlarged GT Group, as it undermined the sovereignty of the country and endangered the national security of Ghana. According to them, the decision of the government to transfer the assets, properties, shares, equipment, among others, to Vodafone was obnoxious, unlawful and inimical to the public interest, particularly when no consideration was required to be paid by Vodafone for the stated assets.
The group argued that the three Ministers of State and the managing director of GT who signed the agreement on behalf of the government did not exercise the requisite level of circumspection required of them as public officers in relation to public property. The plaintiffs are therefore seeking reliefs from the court, including a declaration that the agreement being entered into by the government was not in accordance with the due process of law and was, therefore, a nullity.
They are also demanding that the court should give an order declaring that the forcible grouping of autonomous state institutions established by law Voltacom, Fibreco, VRA Fibre Network and VRA Fibre Assets with GT to form the purported Enlarged GT Group was unlawful and, therefore, void and of no legal effect.
The plaintiffs are further praying for an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the government from disposing of its 70 per cent share of GT to Vodafone or any other foreign company without first exploring avenues for funding and better management in Ghana.
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