Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, May 14, 2015
A Human Rights Court in Accra has refused to decide on whether or not the processes that would lead to the setting up of Interconnect Clearing House (ICH) for the telecoms industry should be halted in the interim.
MP for Obuasi West, Kwaku Kwarteng and two others have filed a suit at an Accra High Court seeking a determination on whether or not it was constitutional for the government to set up the ICH in the first place.
In the process, the plaintiffs filed an application for an interlocutory injunction on the whole ICH programme pending the final determination on the substantive case.
However, the court presided over by Justice Kofi Essel Mensah held that some of the issues raised in the interlocutory application had a bearing on the substantive matter and said giving a ruling might prejudice the entire case.
He therefore deferred the ruling for full trial to commence and adjourned proceedings until May 28 for the parties to come to court for directions.
There have been a number of agitations following the National Communications Authority (NCA’s) alleged hurriedly-arranged ICH programme which critics say had little stakeholder input and the fact that the NCA has decided to contract Afriwave Telecom Ghana Ltd as a mandatory ICH for all telecoms service subscribers in Ghana effective May, 2015, raised eyebrows.
The government, through the NCA, is claiming that some telecommunication companies (Telcos) are involved in scams and also underpaying revenue due the government and as a result, said it was in the process of establishing an ICH that would require Telcos and International Carriers to connect their gateways via a clearing house.
Some have argued that the ICH is a means to tap into people’s privacy by listening to calls.
The MPs suit which had one Elijah Adansi-Bonah, a subscriber to the telecommunications services and Development Data, a policy research and advocacy institution as part of the plaintiffs cites the NCA and Afriwave Telecom Ghana Ltd as well as all telecoms service (mobile phone service) providers as the defendants.
The suit filed on March 5, 2015 by their solicitors Sory @ Law, also invites the Attorney-General as an interested party.
The plaintiffs want a declaration that the NCA’s decision to constitute Afriwave Telecom Ghana Ltd as all the telecoms companies for the ICH programme is “unlawful, unreasonable and in breach” of the authority’s “constitutional obligation” to the plaintiffs “to act fairly, reasonably and in accordance with law.”
They want another declaration that the NCA’s decision to constitute Afriwave Telecom Ghana Ltd as all the telecoms companies for the ICH programme “unjustifiably interferes with Plaintiffs' fundamental human right to freedom from interference with their communication and correspondence,” or in the alternative, a declaration that the action of the regulator “has the likelihood of interfering unjustifiably with Plaintiff s fundamental human right and freedom from interference with their communication and correspondence.”
The plaintiffs therefore are seeking an “order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from implementing and or executing” the NCA’s decision to constitute Afriwave Telecom Ghana Ltd “as a mandatory Interconnect Clearing House for all telecommunications service subscribers in Ghana.”