Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Court Starts Full Trial Of Areeba Case

Areeba now MTN in Ghana is a leading mobile phone service provider in the West African country

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday, 29 April 2008
The Commercial Court in Accra yesterday commenced full trial of the case in which Richmond Aggrey, a businessman, is claiming 20 per cent shares in Scancom Limited, operators of Areeba Mobile phone service now MTN.

Mr Aggrey, former Vice Chairman of Areeba, has sued the telecommunication giant and Investcom Consortium Holdings S.A of Beirut Lebanon, who were the majority shareholders in Areeba, as well as Grandview Management of Texas, United States, to claim his share.

The case which was instituted in July 2006, has reached full trial stage because the parties have failed to agree on pre-trial settlement in accordance with the rules of the Commercial Court.

The court then presided over by Justice Henry Kwofie on July 14, 2006 granted Mr Aggrey an ex-parte application to restrain Investcom, Scancom and Grandview from going ahead to conclude a merger with the MTN Company of South Africa.

Mr Aggrey had argued among other things that "continuing and/or concluding a merger with and/or acquisition of Investcom LLC by MTN without taking into account and/or providing for the plaintiffs 20 per cent share in Scancom Limited will occasion the loss of his shareholding in the company by reason of the accrual of the rights of MTN Group as third party".

Following the grant of the injunction, Scancom filed an application to strike out Mr Aggrey’s action "in part or whole" on the grounds that he failed to adhere to procedures in filing the application but it was dismissed by both the trial court and the Court of Appeal.

Investcom also filed for stay of proceedings pending arbitration between them and Mr Aggrey in London but that was also dismissed by both the trial court and the Court of Appeal. Mr Philip Forson, Counsel for Investcom, however indicated yesterday that they have appealed against that ruling at the Supreme Court.

Yonny Kulendi, counsel for Mr Aggrey in response argued that the plaintiff has not been served with any process from the Supreme Court and Justice Barbara Ackah-Ayensu, the new trial judge told Mr Forson "we are not there yet".

The case on November 20, took a dramatic turn when Grandview opposed the stay of proceedings application filed by its co-defendant, Scancom.

Mr Thaddeus Sory who represented Grandview had described Scancom’s action as "a process masked to waste the court’s time and delay the speedy trial of the case".

In the witness box to give evidence yesterday was Mr Aggrey, the plaintiff, who told the court that his businesses cover many industries including telecommunication and petroleum.

Led in evidence by Mr Kulendi, his counsel, Mr Aggrey said scancom was in existence before he joined them adding, "I acquired 20 per cent shares and became a vice chairman".

He said Investcom was the majority shareholder but there were other minority shareholders including David Hesse, Scam Construction and Telle 2 Norleet, saying "the two principal owners of Scancom Limited were Investcom and myself.

He said a year after joining Scancom, one of the Lebanese with Scancom told him that he had information that the company would be jeopardised if he (the plaintiff) did not offload his interest from it.

"I called the then Communication Minister, Edward Salia who confirmed it and said the former President was being misinformed about my involvement in Scancom."

Mr Aggrey told the court that he subsequently left for Nigeria and the board of directors of Scancom later asked him to transfer his shares to his nominee called Chris Wilmot, a distant cousin who served on the board and who is now in charge of Grandview in order to protect Scancom from any jeopardy.

"They faxed to me in Nigeria the share transfer agreement between Wilmot and myself which I executed."

Mr Aggrey tendered in evidence a copy of the share transfer agreement at which point the court adjourned proceedings until May 7, when Mr Aggrey will continue with his evidence.

Monday, April 28, 2008

UNCTAD To Strengthen Member Economies

By William Yaw Owusu

Monday, 28 April 2008
THE just-ended twelfth United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XII) has resolved to support and strengthen the economies of developing countries through trade.

Conference participants want to see accelerated economic growth which will bring about prosperity, especially in Africa, a continent lagging behind in the attainment of most of the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, before UNCTAD XIII in 2012.

This was contained in a communiqué dubbed the "Accra Accord", issued in Accra on Friday at the close of UNCTAD XII.

In the declaration, delegates stressed the importance of integrated solutions to challenges in the mobilisation of additional development finance for commerce-related infrastructure; increased market access for developing countries, as well as technical cooperation to help in the diversification of the economies.

They called for an updated stability-oriented global financial system with enhanced participation by development countries.

"All countries must honour their respective commitments on duty-free and quota-free market access for the least developed countries, as provided for in the Ministerial Declaration of the Sixth World Trade Organisation Conference."

They urged one another to "refrain from promulgating and applying unilateral economic, financial or trade measures which are not in accordance with international law and the charter of the UN that impede the full achievement of economic and social development, particularly in developing countries, and that affect commercial interest."
They further underscored the need to strengthen South-South trade which will lead to the prioritisation of the Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP) among developing countries saying "the erosion of generalised trade preferences for the least developed countries should be redressed through long-term strategies to diversify economic bases, enhance competitiveness and productive capacity, develop new export opportunities and integrate into the global economy".

"These efforts should be accomplished at the domestic level by boosting good governance and transparency, and investing profits from oil and other commodities into production, transport and communications infrastructure for sustainable growth."

The countries also resolved to encourage UNCTAD to strengthen its role as the focal point of UN’s integrated treatment of trade and development and other areas such as finance, technology, investment and sustainable development.

On the upward surge of prices in the commodities markets and possible economic slowdown in major industrialised countries, the countries said a strengthened UNCTAD could help provide a sense of development solidarity especially in deepening interdependence.

Dr Supachai Panitchpaki, Secretary General of UNCTAD, said "by working on the details of how best to carry out that pledge during the entire meeting, member countries have built development solidarity between the East and West, the North and South to improve the quality of life of all human beings".

He said the best way to achieve development goals would be free trade with enhanced anti-poverty strategies.

Mr Akwasi Osei-Adjei, Ghana’s Foreign Minister, described the resolution as "topical and timely" saying "it reflects key trade and development issues and policy direction to address them".

"The declaration reflects our collective will be find integrated solutions to those concerns."

The conference held from April 20 to 25, which had the theme: "Addressing the opportunities and challenges of globalisation for development", was attended by more than 4,000 representatives from all over the world, including some heads of state, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon.

Yusef Hussein Kamah, Finance Minister of Qatar, has already announced his country’s offer to host UNCTAD XIII in 2012.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

UNCTAD XII Better Than All - Secretary - General

By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday, 26 April 2008
THE Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Supachai Panitchpakdi, has described the just ended Accra edition as "an improvement on the previous conferences since 1964."

"This is the first time we are witnessing a meeting of all minds ranging from the academia to business to tackle the critical issue of development and globalisation".

Dr Supachai was addressing a news conference to close UNCTAD XII in Accra yesterday.

UNCTAD XII, held from April 20 to 25, which had the theme: "Addressing the opportunities and challenges of globalisation for development," was attended by more than 4,000 representatives from all over the world, including some head of state, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon.

Dr Supachai said: "Accra has seen an enthusiasm and phenomenon for development solidarity. The push for a new globalised and liberalised world should be a shared responsibility of all countries".

He said member countries have resolved to collaborate toward the development agenda, adding "we should make it a powerful means to achieve the objectives of putting in place the necessary interventions to raise the living standard of the people".

Dr Supachai further said that with the new enthusiasm among member states it should be possible for developing countries especially those in Africa to catch up in the race to achieve targets set for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

He said "Development partnership has been created here and member countries should be able to involve the private sector to facilitate the achievement of the MDGs."

The countries must be development oriented, he added, saying "it is the responsibility of the international community to support the integration of the economies of Africa. This will mean more than trade negotiations and access to the world market".

On agriculture, Dr Supachai said there should be a clear policy direction in the sector and added "we are going to work on commodities in the form of production and prices".

He said member countries resolved to ensure coherence and financial discipline saying "we need a collective and multi-lateral solution to problems".

On gender and globalisation, he said Finland was able to put the issue in the right perspective, adding that the ‘Women in Business Award’ which has been instituted was an intervention to encourage more women to small scale or serious business.

"UNCTAD XII will be the landmark to set into motion our effort to enjoy the new era of globalisation."

Friday, April 25, 2008

‘Mines’ Contribution To Economy Minimal’

By William Yaw Owusu & David Adadevoh

Thursday, 24 April 2008
DESPITE the presence of many mining companies in Ghana, the contribution of the mining sector to the development of the economy is very minimal, says Esther Obeng Dapaah, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines.

"Our inability to determine the profit margins of the mining companies does not help our quest for economic growth. The minerals are always refined in foreign countries and these companies only come back to declare their profit. We do not know how they come by these gains," she said.

The Minister was speaking in Accra yesterday at an interactive session at the 12th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XII).

The session, which was on the theme "The changing face of commodities in the 21st Century", was in three thematic areas. These were energy/oil/gas, mining/minerals and agricultural commodities, with panellists from Angola, Ghana, Mauritania, Uganda, Argentina, Sri Lanka, Oman and Venezuela deliberating on them.

Ms Dapaah, who spoke on the mining sector in Ghana, said even though the sector has a high percentage of the local workforce, those who take the decisions are often expatriates.

She said the country has over the years continued to over depend on the traditional commodities such as gold, timber and cocoa for export and that was affecting the economy.

"There are mineral deposits such as brown clay, limestone and salt among others that we need to shift our focus on."

The government, she said, is setting up a high level committee to review the activities of the mining sector and get the laws governing the areas amended to meet the economic development aspirations of the country.

Ms Dapaah said: "We want to reform the mining sector and also add value to the commodities that we send to the world market."

Mr Joaquim David, Angola’s Minister of Industry, who dealt with the oil industry, said despite the gains made from oil, the Angolan economy is still vulnerable.

Angola, according to him, produces about two million barrels of oil daily but the price instability on the commodity market had inhibited the government’s effort to use oil revenue to effectively support the Angolan economy.

"The international market should afford every country the opportunity to have a diversified economy," he said.

Mr Ahmeed Bin Hassan Al Dheeb, Oman’s Under Secretary for Commerce and Industry, who was a discussant on the oil issue, said his country was using oil revenue to upgrade the human resource sector.

Mrs Carolina Escala of Venezuela said the issue of oil should not only be seen from a commercial perspective but also on a sustainable basis.

Mr Nelson Gaggawala, Uganda’s Minister of State for Trade, who treated the issue of agricultural commodities, reiterated the need for investors to support the agricultural sector of African countries.


By William Yaw Owusu

Friday, 25 April 2008
AN Accra Fast Track High Court yesterday ruled that the 23 Liberian refugees arrested by the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) for living in the country illegally, should be deported to their home country.

This followed the court’s dismissal of an ex-parte application filed by the refugees, including seven minors against the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

The motion on notice for a writ of habeas corpus was sworn by Theresa Cheddah Dogbey of the Buduburam refugee settlement, near Kasoa in the Central Region, on behalf of the 22 others.

The motion, among other things, sought an order for the release of the detained refugees and another order to restrain the Minister of the Interior, the Inspector-General of Police and the Director-General of the GIS from deporting them to Liberia.

All the 23 plaintiffs were present in court when Justice P.K. Gyaesayor, now with the Court of Appeal, read the ruling.

The court held that the plaintiffs failed to satisfy it that they were registered refugees living in Ghana legally under the Refugees Act.
Justice Gyaesayor noted that the Refugees Board, the Liberian Embassy in Ghana and the GIS have all confirmed that the names of the plaintiffs are not on their database.

Plaintiffs, he further pointed out, had relied on the registration cards of their relatives to claim refugee status, emphasising that "those registration cards have been found to belong to people who are asylum seekers and this does not entitle the holders to a refugees status."

Justice Gyaesayor said moreso, the civil war in Liberia is over and the country has been able to hold a democratic election. "There is no doubt that the situation in Liberia now is conducive for them to return. Their right to live in Ghana has thus ceased," he said.

"This issue should not be seen on emotional or gender basis. They have been found to be staying in Ghana illegally. The rights they are seeking should have gone with responsibilities.

"Even if the ECOWAS protocol, which gives the right to citizens to live in a member country for three months before his or her visa expires is anything to go by, then plaintiffs’ right to stay in Ghana expired long ago because they have stayed beyond three months," he pointed out.

"The Director-General of the GIS has not contravened the law. Their detention has been done in accordance with the law.

"The respondents produced acceptable evidence to back their intended deportation and the Director-General of the GIS has a free hand to carry out the exercise," he said.

The court later advised plaintiffs to take the minors along even though they (minors) are entitled to live in Ghana.

The refugees were represented in court by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) both human rights organisations.

Nana Obiri Boahen, Minister of State at the Ministry of the Interior, was the government’s representative in court.

Refugees at Buduburam, some of whom have been here since the civil war in Liberia in 1989, on February 19, embarked on a sit-in to back their demands for an improved repatriation package from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

They were demanding 1,000 dollars per adult and resettlement in a western country.

Following weeks of unrest, security agencies moved in to maintain order.

Representatives of the Liberian government later flew in to hold discussions with Ghanaian and UNHCR officials, leading to the formation of a tripartite committee to draw up modalities for their repatriation.

MiDA To Help Courts On Land Cases

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday, 25 April 2008
THE Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) yesterday signed an agreement to support the Judicial Service to clear a backlog of land cases in 10 circuit courts in the country.

It forms part of the Land Tenure Facilitation Activity of the MiDA under the 547 million dollars Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC) signed between Ghana and the USA in 2006.

Under the Implementing Entity Agreement, the MiDA will spend 607,410 dollars to refurbish and automate the 10 selected courts that build the capacity of judges and staff.

MiDA will also develop a practice manual on the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and help refine the understanding of the nature and scope of the existing land disputes with the MCA Ghana programme.

The amount being spent to assist in the clearance of the backlog of the land cases forms part of the MCA’s Land Tenure Facilitation Activity which seeks to revolutionise agriculture in the country.

The 10 participating courts are: Swedru, Nsawam, Odumase, Kpando, Hohoe, Aflao, Keta, Sogakope, Tamale and Mpraeso are all located in MiDA intervention zones.

Signing the agreement at the Supreme Court building in Accra yesterday, Mr Martin Eson-Benjamin, Chief Executive Officer of MiDA, said they are collaborating with the Judicial Service to use nine months to put in place a sound and effective structure for the backlog of cases to be cleared to facilitate the acquisition of land in the selected areas for large scale agriculture.

He said "this component aims at finding a lasting solution to the backlog of land cases which constrain commercial farming activities in Ghana.

"Land availability and the secured rights to it are crucial to the success of many investments in Ghana. In a programme which aims at agricultural transformation and poverty reduction, land ownership becomes fundamental to our overall success," he added.

He said by entering into the agreement with the service, MiDA is helping to reduce the incidence of protracted litigation and the release of lands for agricultural activities and related agricultural businesses as well as promoting the administration of justice.

Mr Eson-Benjamin said "since we have only five years to make maximum use of the MCA account, I will call for commitment and cooperation from all stakeholders to successfully implement their aspect of the project."

The Chief Justice, Mrs Georgina Wood, on her part said the MiDA intervention will facilitate efforts to bring about land reforms through the Land Administration Project (LAP).

"We are truly grateful to MiDA for this massive injection of funds and contribution to the enhancement of this important area of the law."

She promised to ensure that the backlog of land cases are cleared in the selected courts for MiDA to promote the commer-cialisation of agriculture.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

‘Women’s Empowerment Vital For MDGs’

By William Yaw Owusu and David Adadevoh

Wednesday, 23 April 2008
Panellists at the 12th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development have admitted that the lack of attention to addressing social and gender issues worldwide is inhibiting efforts at poverty reduction, accelerated development and the achievement of positive aspects of globalisation.

Mrs. Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, who set the ball rolling in an interactive session at the ongoing UNCTAD XII in Accra yesterday, said the empowerment of women, as well as the reduction of poverty towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 should not be taken for granted by developing countries and the international community.

The forum discussed the social and gender dimensions of globalisation, development and poverty reduction.

Mrs Halonen said investment in the education of the people is crucial if there should be any meaningful development, especially in Third World countries.

Mr. Albert Koenders, Minister for Development Cooperation in the Netherlands, said the United Nations and the international community should now see human security and the creation of wealth as a priority.

"The time is running out for countries to achieve the MDGs by 2015. We all need to step up the effort, help and encourage those countries involved to be able to meet the targets."

Mr Koenders said the time has come for countries to choose their own growth paths, strengthen the South-South Cooperation and promote public/private partnerships.

He noted that women were always at the receiving end of bad policies of governments citing Zimbabwe and the Congo as areas where a woman needed permission from the husband before buying a land or starting a business, respectively.

He said such policies inhibited the effort by women to take advantage of the Intellectual Property Rights to create wealth, saying "National policies are still crucial if women are to make any meaningful impact towards development".

Mr Bader Al-Dafa, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for South East Asia (ESCWA), said conflicts in certain parts of South East Asia is impeding the effort to eradicate poverty.

He said there is now an unprecedented recognition of the role of women in the development of the region.

Ms Patricia R. Frances, Executive Director of International Trade Centre (UNCTAD/WTO), said women businesses were starting to grow especially in developing countries but admitted that most of these businesses were yet to enjoy the global business environment.

Ms Rachel Mayanja, Special Advisor on Gender Issues at the UN, said "for the first time the issue of gender is taking a centre stage at the UNCTAD".

She said ICT is now improving the lot of women in spite of gender inequalities that impede their development.

"Gender wage gap is still wide and violence against women including the trafficking of women on a global scale is still a problem," she observed.

Mr G.L. Peiris, Minister for Export Development and International Trade in Sri Lanka, who was one of the discussants of the event said the recent economic growth in developing countries is laudable but admitted that it was not enough to deal with the issue of poverty.


By William Owusu & David Adadevoh

Tuesday, 22 April 2008
Not a single country on the African continent is on track to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, warned yesterday at a meeting of heads of states and governments attending the twelfth United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

However, he said, at the same time, advances on specific goals in individual African countries suggest that rapid progress is certainly possible towards the achievement of the MDGs.

"Our host nation, Ghana, is an excellent example. It has made significant strides in increasing primary school enrolment. Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda also report of improvements. Elsewhere, Senegal is making great strides towards meeting the water target while Niger, Togo and Zambia have made impressive progress in malaria control through the free distribution of bednets."

The eight MDG targets are: the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achievement of universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.

The UN Secretary-General was speaking at the ‘high level segment’ of the twelfth edition of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development currently underway in Accra.
The meeting was specifically designed for the leaders to deliberate on the topic: "Trade and development for Africa’s prosperity – action and direction".

Apart from the UN Secretary-General, Presidents J.A. Kufuor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Mrs Tarja Halonen of Finland and Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, Vice President Ana Vilma Abanez de Escober of El Salvador, as well as former President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, all spoke on the level of development of Africa.

Mr Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, was the moderator for the session.

Mr Ban said "we face a development emergency which is well past the mid-point of the race to achieve the MDGs but the success stories need to be replicated and scaled-up across Africa with effective support from the international community.

"The scaling-up of development activities require unprecedented effort, but it is achievable because African economies have performed extremely well in recent years."

He said existing commitments are enough to achieve the goals and urged the governments to focus squarely on the implementations of the MDGs.

He also said the recent alarming rise in global food prices and the issue of climate change could threaten efforts being made to achieve the MDGs unless concrete measures are put in place to check the threat.

On his part, President Kufuor said the only way to address the multiple development challenges of Africa is to strengthen and reinforce the partnership between African countries and the United Nations.

"He said "this will enable the UN system to increase and sustain the substantial contribution which it is already making in the promotion of development aspirations of developing countries."

He said while there are no standard prescriptions for development for all countries, there were certainly very important lessons that could be learned from the success of Brazil, China and India who he said were making strides towards accelerated development.

"Happily these countries are already engaged in partnership with Africa and other developing nations and these partnerships are aimed at producing mutually beneficial outcomes," he said.

President Kufuor said the time has come for the trend towards South-South Cooperation which led to the creation of UNCTAD to be encouraged in order to break the continuing North-South Development Paradigm.

He called for a new deal on aid, trade, investment and technology transfer between Africa and its development partners on the principle of development solidarity.

He also said a new partnership must capitalise on the growing South-South trade and economic integration process, adding "in Africa this must start with regional integration as a foundation for a continental union".

When he took his turn, President Lula da Silva said "Africa is a continent of hope despite the problems inhibiting her development. Some African economies are growing at a faster rate even than some developed countries."

He said the action to fight hunger and poverty must be intensified, adding that "Brazil was committed to the development of Africa particularly in agriculture."

Mrs Halonen said Africa has a fair opportunity to participate and benefit from global trade.

She called for the need to deepen democracy through good governance and the support for Africa saying that "Finland is committed to the development of Africa."

She also said increased trade and investment should be able to generate employment on the African continent to ensure economic growth and wealth creation.

President Koroma said "development must be underpinned by a robust trade. We need to take a solid step because we need a lot of catching up to do".

President Mkapa and Vice President Albanez de Escobar all called for equal opportunities in global trade.

Pomp, Pageantry Mark UNCTAD XII Opening

By William Yaw Owusu

Monday, 21 April 2008
THE 12th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XII) opened in Accra yesterday amid pomp and pageantry.

Most Ghanaian officials who attended the opening ceremony were resplendent in kente cloth. The traditional fontomfrom drummers were there to spice up the occasion.

The conference, themed: "Addressing the opportunities and challenges of globalisation for development" is being attended by people from all walks of life, including President J.A. Kufuor and the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon.

President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, who hosted the 11th edition in 2004, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Mahidol whose country, Thailand hosted the 10th edition in February 2000, and the President of Finland, Mrs Tarja Kaarina Holonen, are all in attendance.

There are also a host of other dignitaries, including about 4,500 representatives from 193 member countries attending the conference, as well as non-governmental organisations and development partners.

The media both local and international are heavily represented while security and other protocol services have been well arranged.

Activities before the opening of the conference yesterday included a flag raising ceremony, as well as world investment and civil society fora, both of which began on Thursday and will run until the end of the conference.

The main event is being held at the Accra International Conference Centre where a huge tent has been erected for the main sessions.

Other activities that preceded the opening included the meeting of senior officials of the Group of 77 countries and China and launch of the Creative Economy Report, UN Chief Executives Board (CEB).

There was also a plenary session to adopt the agenda for the subsequent events, as well as the election of the bureau and conference officers after which the host country would organise a welcome reception for the participants.
Mr Supachai Panitchpakdi, the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, was the moderator of most of the fora held before the opening ceremony.

Presidents Lula da Silva and Kufuor and Mr Ki-moon all delivered thought provoking speeches at the opening ceremony.

Mr Ban before addressing the participants said "this is impeccable arrangement. I commend President Kufuor and the people of Ghana for this."

UNCTAD was established in 1964 by the UN to promote development-friendly integration of developing countries into the world economy.

UNCTAD has progressively evolved into an authoritative knowledge-based institution whose work aims to help shape current policy debates and thinking on development, with a particular focus on ensuring that domestic policies and international action are mutually supportive in bringing about sustainable development.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Alan Kyerematen's resignation: REACTIONS

Alan Kyerematen is the runner up at the NPP congress that selected Nana Akufo-Addo as the flag-bearer in Election '08 in Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday April19, 2008
THE bombshell resignation of Alan Kyerematen, defeated presidential aspirant of the New Patriotic Party from the party on Thursday, continues to receive mixed reactions both from the leadership of the party and the public.

There have been accusations and counter-accusations within the rank-and-file of the party following the resignation.

The resignation of Mr Kyerematen, founding member of the NPP and a former Minister of Trade, Industry and President’s Special Initiatives, took many people by surprise, having pledged his support for the party’s flag-bearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, after his defeat at the party’s congress last December and later accepting to be part of Nana Addo’s campaign team.

In his resignation letter, Mr Kyerematen is said to have cited intimidation and alienation of his supporters after the congress as his reason.

Charles Sam and Kuuku Welsing-Jones, both spokespersons for Mr Kyerematen, said in an interview that all those who openly supported Mr Kyerematen at the congress felt intimidated and, therefore, he decided to resign to save the party’s unity.

Mr Sam, for instance, called on the leadership of the party as a matter of urgency, to look into the allegations of intimidation, saying "we tried to solve this problem in-house. Mr Kyerematen is the person who will not jump to hasty conclusions. His concerns were not addressed."

He, however, dismissed speculations that Mr Kyerematen will join another party or form his own party. "At the moment, Mr Kyeremateng has nothing against anybody but I can assure you that he is not going to join or form any political party."

Mustapha Hamid, an aide to Nana Akufo-Addo, admitted that there were still reported cases of intimidation within the party after the congress but said that even people perceived to be sympathisers of the flag-bearer were also victims.

He cited Ms Christine Churcher, a former minister and known supporter of Nana Akufo-Addo, who he said had to abandon the filing of her parliamentary nomination due to intimidation from people believed to be Mr Kyerematen’s supporters in Cape Coast.

"The issue of intimidation is across board, but it is something that needs the collaboration of all in the party to be able to check."

He said after the congress, there have been efforts to integrate all followers of the 17 presidential aspirants to ensure that Nana Akufo-Addo wins the December elections, adding "we have people who openly campaigned for Mr Kyerematen but who are now working with us to ensure total victory".

Mr Hamid described the resignation of Mr Kyerematen as "a huge loss", and said the party will work hard to get him back to its fold.

Nana Ohene Ntow, General-Secretary of the NPP, said the leadership of the party is in firm control of the situation, even though Mr Kyerematen’s resignation came as a shock to the party.

He, however, declined to comment on efforts being made to persuade Mr Kyerematen to rescind his decision.

Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, a former minister and one of the presidential aspirants whom Mr Welsing-Jones accused of intimidating some perceived Kyerematen supporters in Koforidua, dismissed the allegations saying "the party cannot be built on lies and untruths".

Although politics is about numbers, Mr Kyerematen’s resignation will not affect the party’s chances of retaining power in the December polls. A true and genuine Danquah-Busia (loyalist) will never resign from the tradition," he affirmed.

Besides, he said, the constitution of the NPP is supreme and above every individual member’s interest.

"The resignation will not affect the unity of the party because the NPP has the track record to manage internal crisis," he added.

While some NPP supporters were critical of the party’s executive for allowing the issue of intimidation to persist after the congress, others blamed Mr Kyerematen for what is happening.

Joseph Kyei Arhin, a shoe-seller at Kwame Nkrumah Circle, said: "The party executives have allowed this problem to fall flat in their face and we all look upon them to address it."

But Abigail Tsotsoo Lamptey accused Mr Kyerematen of abandoning the party "at a time when we need him most," adding "he is trying to tell us that he does not care about what happens to the NPP after 2008."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Court Decides On Refugees, April 24

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday, 15 April 2008
An Accra Fast Track High Court will on April 24, decide on whether or not to allow the deportation of 23 Liberian refugees to their home country.

This follows an ex-parte application filed against the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice by the 23 refugees, including seven minors.

The motion of notice for a writ of habeas corpus was sworn by Theresa Cheddah Dogbey of the Buduburam Refugee settlement, near Kasoa in the Central Region, on behalf of the 22 others.

The motion is seeking, among other things, an order for the release of the detained refugees and another order to restrain the Minister of the Interior, the Inspector-General of Police and the Director-General of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) from taking further action against them, including their deportation.

All 23 plaintiffs were brought to the court room by GIS officials.

The court, presided over by Justice P.K. Gyaesayor, now with the Court of Appeal, on April 8 ordered the GIS to allow lawyers access to the plaintiffs who are still in the custody of the service, following allegations by Nana Oye Lithur of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) that the GIS had refused to allow them to interview the refugees.

At the hearing yesterday, when the judge sought to know if the GIS gave counsel access to the refugees, Nana Oye Lithur said, "we had access after a struggle. We are still complaining about the attitude of the GIS officials."

Moving the motion for the plaintiffs, Mrs Lithur said in order for the Immigration Act to apply, the court’s task would be to review the plaintiffs’ refugee status.

She said the plaintiffs are not illegal immigrants but rather undocumented refugees, adding, "they made all reasonable attempts to register with the Refugee Board but to no avail."

Counsel said all the plaintiffs have relatives who are registered refugees and for that matter, they are entitled, as of right, to remain in Ghana by virtue of Article 12 of the Refugee Law.

She argued that the Director-General of the GIS has no power to deport the plaintiffs because "they are not here subject to the Immigration Act but rather are subject to the Refugee Act."

"Their continued stay is subject to the recognition of their relatives, refugee status and the GIS Director cannot seek to deport them when she has no power."

Mrs Lithur stated that as the defendants have labelled plaintiffs as "a security threat", it was obligatory for the Attorney-General to prove the allegation which he had failed to do in their defence.

She called for the immediate release of the minors. When the judge sought to know who should take care of those minors, Mrs Lithur said: "The Juvenile Justice Act should be able to specify where they should be".

Yvonne Atakorah Obuobisah, a Principal State Attorney representing the Attorney-General, said in their defence, the UNHCR, in collaboration with the GIS, undertook the exercise to deport the refugees and the applicants were found not to have been registered.

"The database of the UNHCR does not recognise the plaintiffs. They have no right to live in Ghana."

Mrs Obuobisah argued that the relatives the plaintiffs were depending on under section 12 of the Refugee Law have ceased to be refugees since democratic elections were held in Liberia.

"The conditions under which they fled are no more. For about three years now they have been able to organise a successful general election."

Saying that most Liberian refugees in Ghana are now willing to go back to their country, she added, "with that aside, there are other refugees who were properly registered without any hindrance and the plaintiffs cannot use their inability to register as an excuse."

Mrs Obuobisah said under Act 573 section 21, the Director-General of Immigration has the power to deport them. "They are being detained for a period that will make it necessary for the GIS to remove them," she said.

Mrs Obuobisah argued that every step taken by the Ghana government in the exercise was done in collaboration with the Liberian Ambassador to Ghana and added, "as far as the rules are concerned, the GIS has not done anything wrong in this process."

She also challenged the procedure used by the refugees to file the application contending "under Order 25 Rule 3 of the High Court, the plaintiffs, request for injunction is not properly laid before the court."

Friday, April 11, 2008


By William Yaw Owusu

Friday, 11 April 2008
Following a Ghanaian Times story that the Accra-Tema Motorway Lighting Project has been suspended due to extensive cable thefts, uniformed and plain-clothed policemen have now been deployed there to patrol the 18.9 kilometre road.

Deputy Interior Minister K.T. Hammond who made this known to the Times yesterday, said apart from the provision of security, the government is studying a proposal to ban the export of scrap which is believed to facilitate cable thefts in the country.

The Times on Wednesday quoted the contractors on the project, All Afra Electrical, as complaining that about 34,500 metres of underground cables valued at more than GH¢400,000, have been stolen this year.

Some 33,000 metres of cables were removed by thieves last year.

Ghana’s only motorway has been without lights since it was built in 1965. The government decided to light it up to commemorate the country’s Golden Jubilee last year, but persistent stealing of the underground electrical cables has undermined the initiative.

Mr Hammond said he has held discussions with the Inspector-General of Police over the rampant criminal activities on the motorway and other highways in the country and they have resolved to immediately intensify police patrols in these areas.

Reading the Times story about the suspension of the lighting project, a visibly upset Mr Hammond was furious and remarked; "this is just not acceptable! We should not sit down for a few selfish individuals to derail our efforts at development."

He said, "it will be beautiful to see Accra linked to Tema with street lights but these criminals are inhibiting our efforts to achieve this objective by stealing the cables".

So much money has been sunk into the street lighting project and there is the need to take the necessary steps to protect the project, he stressed.

He called on the public to volunteer information on cable thieves, saying "the military could be brought to work alongside the police to ensure that state property is protected.

"I am unhappy with what is going on. These criminals should not assume that they can outwit the security agencies. I am putting them on notice that we have put a solid team on the ground (against) their operations".

Mr Hammond said he believes there are some businessmen who are behind such criminal activities who purchase the cables stolen but added that the police will start to monitor them.

School fails to register 55 students

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday April 11, 2008
FINAL year students of Dzokson Business College at Accra New Town , a private commercial senior high school will not be able to write this years’ West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) slated for June because the school’s Principal failed to register them for the examination.

The students, number 55, (19 boys and 36 girls) each paid GH¢90 totalling GH¢4,950 as registration fee for the examination but W.A. Dzokoto, the principal failed to register them.

When the Times visited the school located behind the Kpehe Roman Catholic Basic School yesterday upon a tip-off at about 1.30 pm there was a crisis meeting underway between the school authorities, the affected students and some of their parents.

The Times learnt that the students paid their registration fee in October/November last year, but the principal informed them about his inability to process the registration only last week.

When the students confronted the Principal over his failure to register them the school authorities allegedly suspended them from attending classes.

The students then reported the matter to the Kotobabi Police who have since commenced investigations but there are unconfirmed reports that the Police Headquarters is moving to take over the case for further investigations due to its seriousness.

At the meeting, the parent present demanded an explanation for not registering their wards but all Mr Dzokoto could say was that “I am registering them for the upcoming November 2008 examination.

The parents rejected the principal’s suggestion and demanded refunds but when Mr Dzokoto claimed he held similar meeting with a section of the parents last Wednesday, supported his idea that they agreed that he registers the students for the Novemberf2008 examinations.

Later in an interview, Mr Dzokoto admitted that he failed to register the candidates and also confirmed that the Kotobabi police are investigating the matter.

He claimed that when he applied to have the school registered as an examination centre, the GES inspectors delayed the report and that accounted for his inability to get the students registered for the June examination.

Asked if it was the first time that the school which started in 2001 was writing WASSCE, the Principal said he registered the final year students last year and they wrote the examinations at various centres in Accra.

“We found it difficult to register this year so I sent a petition on October 24, last year to the GES Director in Charge of Secondary Education and sent copies to the Regional Director of the GES to assist us register the candidates but to no avail.”

He said he had proposed to register the students for the November edition but most of the parents have rejected the proposal.

Some of the parents the Times interviewed said they got to know about the matter only this week saying “we have already invested in our children and we cannot afford additional cost to get them registered for November.”

Later on, a source at the Kotobabi Police Station confirmed that the students have lodged a complaint and they were investigating the matter.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

GIS Ordered To Grant Lawyers Access To Liberian Refugees

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday April9, 2008
AN Accra Fast Track High Court has ordered the Director-General of Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) to allow lawyers access to Liberian refugees who are currently in the custody of the service.

The court, presided over by Justice P.K. Gyaesayor now with the Court of Appeal, gave the order at the hearing of an exparte application filed against the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice by 23 Liberian s including seven minors.

The motion on notice for a writ of habeas corpus was sworn by Theresa Cheddah Dogbey of Zone 10-152B at the Buduburam Refugee Camp near Kasoa in the Central Region, on behalf of the 22 others, seeking among other things an order for their release and another order to restrain the Minister of the Interior, the Inspector-General of Police and the Director-General of the GIS from taking further action against them including their deportation.

Legal Resources Centre (LRS) and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) are jointly representing the refugees in the case.

All the 23 plaintiffs were brought to the court by GIS officials.

Nana Oye Lithur of the CHRI, who moved the motion alleged that the Director-General of the GIS had refused to allow them access to their clients for interview except Dogbey.

Speaking for Dogbey, counsel told the packed court that the plaintiff is entitled to remain in Ghana and also has the right to be protected by the courts even if she is a non-citizen as stated in Article 12 of the Constitution.

She argued that Articles 2(1) and 26 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights reinforced the protection that non-citizens enjoy under the 1992 constitution.

Counsel said the plaintiffs were “unlawfully arrested at the Buduburam Camp, sent to Kordiabe in the Eastern Region and then brought back to the GIS cell in Accra.”

She said once both the Minister of the Interior and the Police Administration told the public that the plaintiffs engaged in an unlawful demonstration thereby breaching the Public Order Act, the authorities needed to produce them before a court to get a detention order.

“As far as the plaintiffs are concerned, they were suspected to have committed a criminal offence and the sector Minister should have arraigned them before a court but failed to do so. Their continuous detention without a court order is therefore illegal.”

She further said the minors who are also in detention is a breach of the children’s Act.

It was at this juncture that Justice Gyaesayor asked counsel to hold on for him to make the order to enable counsel to ascertain the refugee status of all the plaintiffs and report back to the court after which Mrs Evely Keelson who represented the Attorney-General can respond to the motion.

The case was subsequently adjourned until April 14.

On February 19, the Liberian refugees at the Buduburam settlement embarked on a sit-in to back their demands for an improved repatriation package from the UN refugee agency.

They were asking for 1,000 dollars per adult, as well as resettlements in a western country.

Following weeks of unrest, security agencies moved in to maintain order.

Representatives of the Liberian government later flew in to hold discussions with Ghanaian and UNHCR officials, leading to the formation of a Tripartite Committee to draw modalities for their repatriation.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Experts Seek Ways To Curb Small Arms Proliferation

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday, 08 April 2008
A three-day workshop on how to curb the proliferation of small Arms and light weapons (SALW), in the West African sub-region has opened in Accra.

It is organised by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), it is being attended by 36 participants from the security agencies and civil society organisations in Africa.

The workshop is aimed at providing a platform for experts in the fight against the proliferation of small arms to exchange information and ideas, as well as provide them with new skills to curb the menace.

Dr. Kwesi Ennin, Head of Research, KAIPTC, in an opening address, said politicians have failed in their effort to curb the proliferation of small arms.

He said, “there are laws enacted to control the use of small arms but the politicians are lacking the political will to enforce them. These laws simply do not work”.

Dr. Ennin, who touched on the role of civil society in helping to curb the proliferation of small arms, said the problem is accounting for the high level of insecurity thereby impeding efforts at rapid development in the sub-region.

He said there are laudable international and local protocols and conventions on the proliferation of small arms but “there is always a problem in the holistic implemention after these conventions have been ratified.”

He further said that the proliferation of small arms have not been curbed simply because there is a dash between what he called the “traditional authorities” and “modern state”, adding that “different traditional groups are in control of small arms. They use it to re-enact their past and that no authority can force them to chop-off part of their historical and colonial experiences.”

Dr Ennin also said that the problem has persisted because almost all manufacturers of small arms have strong ties or connections with politicians adding “small arms are about long term family traditions”.

He said “we should soberly reflect on the dangers of the proliferation of small arms and adopt strategies to reconcile the different interest groups so as to enhance the security of the sub-region”.

He commended civil society organisations for bringing to the fore the proliferation of small arms saying ‘the issue has been on the political agenda only because civil society organisations are involved”.

David Nii Addy, Technical Advisor at GTZ, said the uncontrolled and misuse of small arms is a complex regional problem that continues to stifle efforts towards peace, sustainable development and improvements in human security.

He said the development of appropriate training programmes to enhance awareness, improve legislation, law enforcement and data collections remain future challenges.

Dr Cyrique Agnekethom, a representative from the ECOWAS Small Arms Unit, said the proliferations of small arms is a concern for the regional body adding ‘we are partnering all stakeholders to bring the menace under control”.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Controversy Over Weekend Court

Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood is the Chief Justice of Ghana. She introduced the weekend courts.

By William Yaw Owusu

Saturday, 05 April 2008
THE Judicial Service’s decision to introduce weekend court sittings has met with resistance from some members of the Greater Accra Regional Bar Association.

The Regional Bar is reported to have resolved to boycott the exercise which has already been endorsed by the Chief Justice, citing inconvenience among other things as their main reason.

They reportedly met on Thursday to prepare a resolution to be forwarded to the Chief Justice over the matter.

Frank Davies, President of the Greater Accra Regional branch of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), in an interview with a section of the media yesterday, confirmed the report and said the bench did not consult them over the decision to hold court sittings at weekends.

He was reported as saying that the executive of the bar will meet the Chief Justice to resolve the issue.

A number of the lawyers that the Ghanaian Times interviewed on phone had mixed reactions.

Yonny Kulendi who was for the initiative said it is meant to take care of emergencies, adding "this will surely expand the frontiers of the administration of justice.

"This initiative will make available to lawyers the opportunity to come before a judge on a weekend in an emergency."

He said it will also prevent the detention of suspects beyond 48 hours and give lawyers the opportunity to seek court orders to check arbitrariness.

"It is a progressive move. In some developed countries you do not only have weekend judges but night courts".

Mr Kulendi urged his colleagues to exercise restraint and treat the issue with maximum caution.

A source at the Judicial Service Headquarters in Accra told the Times that the initiative does not make it mandatory for every lawyer or all the courts to convene.

"The Chief Justice by the powers vested in her selects a weekend judge to be in charge of all emergencies."

It will be recalled that on March 31, the Judicial Service issued a press release to the effect that weekend courts will start sitting in Accra from today.

The release signed by Mrs Regina Apotsi, Judicial Secretary said the courts will deal with specific cases including domestic violence and revenue claims by state agencies.

It said the courts will operate from the premises of the District and Juvenile Courts near the Ministries from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The release further said the weekend courts will be extended to other regions in the country in due course.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Refugees Repatriation Suspended

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday, 04 April 2008
THE proposed repatriation of Liberian refugees has been temporarily suspended.

A source at the Ministry of the Interior told the Times yesterday that the move is to enable the Tripartite Committee set up to draw modalities for the exercise to conclude its work.

The committee, made up of representatives of the governments of Ghana and Liberia, and the UNHCR, was set up on March 28 to oversee the implementation of decisions reached on the repatriation as well as the handling of the refugee situation.

The Interior Ministry source said in a telephone interview that "the exercise is being halted for now, but the security agencies are also collaborating with the UNHCR to ensure the security of both our country and the refugees."

On February 19, the Liberian refugees at the Buduburam settlement in the Central Region embarked on a sit-in to back their demands for an improved repatriation package from the UN refugee agency.

They were asking for $1,000 per adult, as well as resettlement in a western country.

Following weeks of unrest, the security agencies moved in to maintain order.

Representatives of the Liberian government flew in to hold discussions with Ghanaian and UNHCR officials, leading to the formation of the Tripartite Committee.

Experts To Update Nation's Business Law

Mr. Joe Ghartey is the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Friday, 04 April 2008
A committee of experts to update the country’s business laws was inaugurated in Accra yesterday by Mr Joe Ghartey, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.

The five-member committee, with Justice S.K. Date-Bah, a Supreme Court Judge, as chairman, has four months to review the legal systems performance as it relates to business activities.

It will consider the companies Bill prepared by the Attorney-General’s Office by soliciting the views of the business and legal communities and comparing its provisions with those of other countries such as New Zealand accredited with the best practice standard in the Commonwealth.

The committee will also review the bankruptcy/insolvency laws and consider the draft legislation being prepared by the A-G’s Department and further deliberate on legislative measures to combat corruption in the private sector.

Additionally, it will consider suggestions and proposals for law reform and legal communities and determine any other areas of business law that may require reform.

Mr. Ghartey said: "The Companies Bill is a complicated one and needs the effort of people who have deep knowledge in business law to be able to get the best for the country".

He said laws regarding corruption in the private sector are almost non-existent compared to other international conventions such as that of the African Union.

He commended Justice V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe, an eminent jurist, who was at the inauguration, for helping to develop the Companies Law for the country.

Dr Justice Date-Bah, on behalf of the committee, said: "Repairing the legal infrastructure does not only entail the facilitation of business operations but also their regulation".

"Getting the legal framework right for business implied getting the right balance between facilitation and regulation. "It is right for the government to monitor and assess the adequacy of the legal system’s performance as it relate to business activities," he said.

Dr Justice Date-Bah noted that since much work has already been done on the Companies Bill, the committee’s priority will be to assess, consolidate and complete it.

"We will endeavour to bring to bear an independent, but business-friendly mind, on the matters referred to us," he said.

Other members of the committee are Mr Tony Oteng Gyasi, President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Dr Philip Ebow Bondzie-Simpson, a legal practitioner, Sarl Amegavi of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Mr Felix Addo of the Price-Water-House Coopers.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday April 3, 2008
JUSTICE Beatrice Agyeman-Bempah, a High Court Judge, has protested to the Judicial Council what she sees as injustice being meted to her by the Judicial Service in respect of promotion and even working facilities.

“By promoting my juniors over my head creates the impression that I am a daft and corrupt judge. I put my reputation on the line and challenge the Judicial Service to prove otherwise,” she said in a petition to the Judicial Chairman of the Judicial Council and copied to the Chief Justice.

The petition, dated March 28, under the title: “Re:Petition/Protest in respect of the injustice meted out to me by the Judicial Service,” was also copied to Justice Stephen Alan Brobbey of the Supreme Court, Justice Iris May Brown of the Court of Appeal and Justice Vice Ofoe, all members of the Judicial Council, as well as the media.

Attached to the petition were also copies of her correspondence with the service since 2004.

Justice Agyeman-Bempah wrote: “I have been compelled by this injustice to write this petition/protest to vindicate my honour and good name. I would have worked here as staff of the Judicial Service by July 4, 2008 for 31 years. I have been treated unfairly and shabbily by the service in respect of promotion and working facilities.”

She said although she was one of the judges who originated the Fast Track Courts, she was removed as a judge of the court despite the fact that she was the most senior High Court Judge in Ghana.

She said she decided to retire voluntarily in 2004 at the age of 60 but she was prevailed upon to rescind her decision which she did reluctantly.

The judge further alleged that the late Chief Justice, G.K. Acquah, prevented her from returning to the service and it took President Kufuor to intervene before she could go back.

She also said the late Justice E.K. Wiredu nominated her in October 2002 to represent the High Court judges at the Judicial Council because she was the most senior but some High Court judges later on wrote to Justice Acquah that they did not elect her as their representative, even though they admitted that she was once the President of the Association of Judges and Magistrates of Ghana.

She said although her colleagues’ protest letter was not addressed to her but to the late Chief Justice, “I honourably resigned as a member of the Judicial Council”.

She said when she resigned, the late Justice Acquah “cleverly sent circulars to the High Court judges to nominate a representative to the Judicial Council. Later, we got circulars to the effect that Justice Ofoe has been nominated as our representative. We were not given any feedback but he was seconded”.

Justice Agyeman-Bempah said “even though I was the most senior and still is, I was sent to the Regional Tribunal Court premises, where dust and mud are the hallmark of the place. Yet my juniors were sitting in automated, air conditioned courts at the Fast Track and Commercial Courts.

“I am presently at court 22 at Cocoa Affairs where water does not flow and I have to fetch water daily to be used there.

“I have been reliably informed that the Appointment Committee has an unwritten code that if you are a High Court judge and you have not been promoted before 60 years of age, you lose any consideration.

“My main file is missing, yet no one has been queried over its disappearance. One wonders what kind of criteria are used in promotions. I write this petition/protest to redeem my good name for a good name is better than riches and promotions”.

Workshop held on corruption in schools

Mr. Balado Manu in the Chairman of Parliamentary Select Committee on Education in Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Thursday April 3, 2007
A workshop to develop a code of conduct to combat corruption in schools in the West African sub-region has commenced in Accra.

The two-day event, organized by the International Campaign for Corruption-Free Schools (ICCS), is being attended by representatives of all the countries in the West Africa sub-region, as well as the ECOWAS Secretariat in Abuja, Nigeria.

The campaign to kick out corrupt practices in schools was started by the ICCS in November 2003, in Accra and subsequently launched in all the other West African counties.

It is seeking to focus on school children by sensitizing them on the dangers of corruption in society.

The code of conduct has been designed for all stakeholders in schools including students, teachers administrators and parent/guardians and is expected to be adopted and recommended to all governments in the sub-region.

Opening the workshop in Accra yesterday, Kwaku Balado-Manu, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education said “what you have started should be intensified because your target group will surely grow to hate corruption and will facilitate the development of our countries.”

He said the time had come for teachers and other stakeholders of educational development to instill in students good moral values to ensure a corrupt free society.

Mrs Aryelina Baiden-Amissah, a Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Sports in a keynote address noted that since the scourge of corruption posed a threat to the development of the country there is the need for collaboration to combat it.

She said “while corrupt practices in businesses and sadly, politics are well-known realities, the recent upsurge of corruption in the education sector is a new phenomenon which is an alarming development.”

She added that the damage of corruption goes beyond economic and administrative set ups to tarnish the reputation of the educational institutions.

Mr Baffour Dokyi Amoah, Chairman of the ICCS, in his opening remarks said the initiative was fully supported by the Christian Councils and Churches in the sub-region and it had had a positive impact on all areas targeted.

He said the coalition will support every effort to incorporate the code of conduct in mainstream policies of the various countries to ensure successful implementation.

Mr Brown Ogidie, a representative from the ECOWAS Secretariat, said the commission is committed to supporting the initiative to ensure corrupt free schools in the sub-region.

Mr Francois Mercie, a representative of Bread For All, an organisation from Switzerland, and sponsors of the workshop, said the effort to combat corruption should be a concern for all stakeholders of development.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Tripartite Committee To Address Rail Workers' Concerns

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday, 02 April 2008
The tripartite committee set up by the Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment to resolve the impasse between the railway workers and their management, will tomorrow come out with a communiqué on the issue.

A source at the Ministry told the Times yesterday that so far, the committee, made up of some members of the Interim Management Committee of the Workers Union, a Deputy Minister at the ministry and the acting Trade Union Congress (TUC) Secretary-General, has been able to resolve most of the issues at stake leaving three outstanding ones.

They include the date of resumption of work by the workers, salary arrears and the removal of the acting Managing Director of the Company, Mr Ruphus O. Quaye.

A member of the Railways Workers Union, serving on the committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity in a telephone interview, told the Times "things are now getting better. We are satisfied with what has transpired so far."

He said the committee has resolved to formalise the issues at stake by tomorrow, adding "we have worked with mutual respect".

The workers, led by their IMC, have since February 15 been on strike, demanding 150 per cent salary increase and the removal of the managing director, as some of their grievances.

Meanwhile, the National Labour Commission (NLC), has already instituted legal action at the Sekondi High Court against the IMC for the continued strike action.

The case which was called for hearing on March 31, has been adjourned to April 9.

The adjournment was at the instance of J.K. Mensah, counsel for the IMC, who asked for sufficient time to enable them to file their defence.

At the court on Monday, were thousands of the striking workers and their supporters wearing red protest bands around their heads, necks and wrists amidst brass band music, singing and dancing.

To contain the situation, the court had to mobilise policemen to restore law and order.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Upper Regions lack state attorneys

Mr. Osei Prempeh is Ghana's Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice

By William Yaw Owusu

There is only one state attorney each in the Upper East and Upper West Regions and this is woefully inadequate for the handling of the numerous cases on behalf of the state, Kwame Osei-Prempeh, Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice has said.

He said for the Northern Region there are only two state attorneys even though all the regions are supposed to have more than five attorneys each to be able to facilitate the administration of justice.

Mr. Osei-Prempeh was speaking in Accra yesterday at the swearing in of 36 new lawyers to the bar.

Before the enrolment, the Chief Justice, Mrs Georgina T. Wood, the Deputy Minister and some members of the General Legal Council had sworn into office two other magistrates.

She again swore in 25 new justice of the High Court after the enrolment of the new lawyers.

President J.A. Kufuor who should personally sworn in the superior court judges as specified under the constitution delegated his power to the Chief Justice to supervise the swearing in ceremony which was well attended.

Mr. Osei-Prempeh said the government is making efforts to address the staff situation at the Attorney Generals’ Department through the provision of incentives such as accommodation, vehicles and special allowance to entice more lawyers to join the department.

He also said every state attorney working in the three northern will now serve three years and then be posted to other parts of the country to encourage all staff to accept postings to the north.

He urged lawyers to join the AG’s Department saying “you should be prepared to serve anywhere in Ghana and we will make sure to see to your needs”.

During the swearing in of the judges, Mr. Osei-Prempeh charged them to dispense justice in a democratic manner and work towards the consolidation of democracy in Ghana.

“Ghana in moving ahead democratically. Rule of law is being entrenched and this makes your role very crucial in our democratic dispensation. Your conduct will be very essential”.

He said nurturing the country’s democracy should not be left to the politicians alone and urged the judges to “balance the equation to ensure stability”.

He also urged them to take steps to ensure that people always have confidence in the administration of justice.
Justice Wood in administering the oaths of allegiance, secrecy and judicial oath said “Ghanaians have a legitimate expectation that you will contribute significantly to the building of a just, free and democratic nation”.

She urged them to exercise firm and proper control over courtroom staff to ensure that the courts did not turn into humiliation centres for lawyers and litigants.