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One-year after SC verdict; even lawyers are still confused – Ursula

The Member of Parliament for Ablekuma West, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful fears the lack of ‘definitive statement’ by the Supreme Court (SC) in its election petition ruling could scare aggrieved parties from going to court in subsequent elections.

After eight months of sitting, the court’s verdict has rather left many people, including lawyers, confused, she admitted on Joy FM’s flagship programme, Newsfile on Saturday.

In her analysis, the New Patriotic Party MP said the Supreme Court fell short in its declaration on what the laws say about what “constitutes proper election” as well as the legal framework and legal way for future elections.

In his criticism of the SC ruling, a constitutional lawyer, Prof. Kwasi Prempeh accused the court of failing to give binding recommendations for electoral reforms to the Electoral Commission.

Delivering a paper in Accra to mark the one year anniversary of the landmark ruling, he indicated that the SC’s recommendations “are analogous to non-binding advice…those recommendations cannot compel the EC to do those things that have been recommended.”

And Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful to a large extent, shared Prof. Prempeh’s analysis that the ruling lacked clarity and certainty regarding how elections must be conducted and how to mount a successful challenge in court in the event of a disputed election.

“I agree with Professor Kwasi Prempeh’s analysis that the ruling left all in legal profession confused,” she remarked.

“And that is the source of my fear that in 2016, we are going to have very difficult situations across most polling stations because the court in effect, has told us that ‘don’t bother collecting evidence on the face of the pink sheet or whatever. Don’t bother analyzing the law vis-à-vis what actually happened on the grounds. Just make sure that whichever ballots you want to enter the ballot box are counted and declared, because so long as they are we would uphold it.”

However, Felix Kwakye-Ofosu, Deputy Communications Minister believed, the NPP, going to court to overturn about five million votes when “they have not shown any evidence of fraud” was “inherently unjust” attitude on its part. The errors the NPP was relying on were “obvious clerical errors,” he claimed.

In his view, the foul cry over the 2012 presidential election was meant to play Nana Akufo-Addo as the victim and make him relevant instead of accepting that the party’s 2012 campaign was unsuccessful.

“I don’t know why somebody who wants to be a president would want the right of the citizen curtailed just because of infractions that did not affect the results?” he questioned.


Labour is becoming too militant – George Loh

The Member of Parliament for North Dayi, George Loh has bemoaned the increasingly militant nature of labour whenever they negotiate with government for their welfare to be enhanced.

He said it was imperative that labour does not take an intransigent posture but ensures that it exhausts all the laid down procedures in getting their grievances resolved.

The MP, made the statement on TV 3’s Newspaper Review Programme Wednesday while discussing the issue of the calling off of a three-month long strike by the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) after it reached an agreement with the government to pay its book and research allowances.

Leaders of the Association signed an agreement with the government Tuesday afternoon after assurances from the Minister for Labour Relations and Employment Haruna Iddrisu.

POTAG members have been on strike since May 2014 over the non-payment of their book and research allowances since the 2013 academic year.

Hon. Geprge Loh who welcomed the truce between the two parties, commended government for finding a closure to the strike action that has had an adverse effect on the studies of the students.

He emphasized government’s commitment to improving the standard of education in the country, adding that government is ever willing to work effectively with all stakeholders to realize this objective.


Policy to promote timely response to disease outbreak – Dr Bissiw

Deputy Minister of Agriculture (livestock), Dr Louisa Hannah Bissiw, has defended the government’s decision to decentralize the veterinary services, saying, it would promote timely response to disease outbreaks.

Additionally, it would bring efficiency into animal disease surveillance and control by streamlining the reporting system to conform to international best practices.

She has therefore urged the affected departments that would be transferred to the Local Government Service, to embrace the move.

Dr Bissiw was opening a two-day national mid-year review meeting of the Veterinary Services Directorate in Kumasi.

The participants are taking stock of their performance – identify any shortfalls and discuss the way forward.

The Deputy Minister spoke of the government’s determination to revamp the directorate by addressing its severe staff shortage.

“Every year, increasing numbers of veterinary staff go on retirement but all effort made to replace them has not yielded any fruits. I will like to assure you that we will not spare any effort to replace those who have gone on retirement.”

She said the refreshing news was that “the first batch of veterinarians being trained at our universities will pass out next year and this will go a long way to improve on the manpower situation at the directorate”.

She said her ministry would continue to put in place the needed interventions to grow the livestock sector and cited the Broiler Revitalization Project.

The project aims at helping to reduce the huge volumes of low quality imported poultry products to boost local poultry production.

“This will save the country a substantial amount of foreign currency and improve the livelihood of the local poultry farmers”, she added.

Dr Albert H. K. Kwansah-Filson, the Ashanti Regional Veterinary Officer, said the service’s contribution to the economy had been remarkable and urged action to deal with its manpower deficit.


NPP must apologize to EC – Adaklu MP

Member of Parliament for the Adaklu Constituency, Mr. Kwame Agbodza has urged the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to, as a matter of urgency, apologize to the Electoral Commission (EC) for dragging it to court after the 2012 elections.

The NPP, in 2013, dragged the EC, President John Dramani Mahama and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to the Supreme Court, claiming the EC rigged the December 7 and 8 elections in favour of President John Mahama.

After an eight-month long hearing, the Supreme Court finally declared President Mahama as legitimately elected.

According to Mr. Agbodza, the NPP, during the case, tarnished the image of the EC.

The NPP will, on Sunday, August 31, organize a Super Delegates Congress aimed at pruning to five, the seven candidates vying to be flag bearer of the party in the 2016 presidential elections.

Mr. Agbodza said since the same EC the NPP accused would be presiding over their Congress, it is however expedient for them to apologize in order to restore public confidence in the EC.

“It amazes me when I hear the General Secretary [of NPP] saying that the main candidates are not supposed to recruit observers to the polling station and that they are leaving everything in the hands of the EC,” he said.

He added that “today they [NPP] have so much confidence and faith in the EC to conduct an election for them. It means that much of what they said about the EC in the past were all just for political expediency and I urge them to humbly issue a statement to apologize to the EC that they have actually abused and caused damage to them and that they have changed their attitude and that they would accept the results.”

He indicated that the move would make the Congress results more credible after declaration by the EC.

“Otherwise are we expecting that when the results are declared on Sunday or Monday they would go to court,” he questioned.

The NDC MP made the call on Newsstand on TV3.

Meanwhile, Mr. Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover, MP for Tema East Constituency on the same programme disagreed with the Adaklu MP saying that the NPP should be thanked instead for exercising their constitutional right.

“We should be commended for taking the EC to court…Because it was clear in the court, the weaknesses of the Commission. They [EC] should even thank us that we did not resort to any violence to resolve our differences.”

Godwin Allotey Akweiteh/citifmonline.com

Several endorsements can’t make Nana Addo a Flagbearer – Addai Nimoh

This coming Sunday, the New Patriotic Party would go to the polls to trim down the number of candidates vying for the flagbearer post from seven to five as stated by their constitution.

Seven candidates have expressed their interest in picking up that mantle but only five would be allowed to pass out after the impending special exercise has been completed.

Mr. Addai Nimoh happens to be part of the aspirants looking forward to winning the ultimate prize after the special delegates’ congress.

And it is on this note that he has served a severe warning to splinter groups within the party to move away from the endorsement campaigns.

Ahead of the special delegates’ congress, Nana Akufo-Addo has been bombarded with series of endorsement campaign and from his popularity on the airwaves; it looks easier to conclude that he would emerge as the NPP’s choice.

The party’s representative from the United Kingdom have made their intentions clear and declared their maximum support for Nana Akufo-Addo.

But the Member of Parliament for Mampong Constituency, Hon. Addai Nimoh believes they have overstepped their boundaries.

Reacting to the endorsement deal on Peace FM, Hon. Addai Nimoh likened the people behind the act to “propagandists”.

According to him, voting is done in secrecy and eligible voters could have a change of mind when they stand alone to vote a candidate.

“The UK branch who made the endorsement is behaving as if only two and half percent would be voting. They erred in making that endorsement and should have kept whoever they preferred as a secret. They will only have three people on their behalf to vote…they must bear in mind that the impending congress is not to elect a flagbearer neither is to preempt the election of a flagbearer. It is only to trim down the number of aspirants vying for the post,” he said.

5 MPs sue gov’t; defend Takoradi Port expansion

Five Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Ashanti, Western, Central and Greater Accra Regions have sued government over an agreement it entered into with a British firm.

The five say aspects of the agreement which imposes restrictions on Takoradi Port as far as expansion of the Port is concerned, are unlawful and must be declared as such.

According to them, “On 17th July 2014, Parliament approved an agreement made between Ghana Government and a British company, Lonrho Ports, for the development of an oil and gas freeport in the Western Region.”

They insist that “Clause 7 of the said agreement bars Takoradi Port from further expanding its facilities for oil and gas until Lonrho has built its freeport, recovered all its cost, and made enough profit. The agreement actually bars all persons or companies from building any oil and gas port facilities in the entire Western Region until Lonrho has recovered its investment and made its profit.”

The five – Kwaku Kwarteng (Obuasi West), Kwabena Okyere Darko (Takoradi), Joseph Cudjoe (Effia), Mavis Hawa Koomson (Ewutu Senya) and Kofi Brako (Tema Central) – filed the case at the Sekondi High Court.

The case is expected to be heard on Thursday, August 28, 2014.

Led by their lawyer Mr Alexander Abban, the five MPs want the court to remove the restriction imposed on further expansion of the Takoradi Port by the agreement.

They argue the restriction offends section 5 of the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority Act and are praying the court to remove the restriction.

The Act states among others; “The Authority shall plan, build, develop, manage, maintain, operate and control ports and in particular shall…maintain the port facilities and extend and enlarge the facilities as the Authority considers fit; [and] (c) regulate the use of a port and of the port facilities”.

The MPs point out that Parliament recently approved a loan of €197 million for the expansion of the oil and gas facilities at the Takoradi Port, and that the Port is in the process of securing another US$400 million to support the expansion programme.

“Imposing this restriction on the Port would therefore make it impossible for it to repay these loans. This will collapse the Port and render its workers jobless,” the plaintiffs argue.

Joe Appiah campaigns for child education

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Ablekuma North, Mr Justice Joe Appiah has urged parents to show keen interest in their childrens education to facilitate their academic progress.

Mr Appiah said parents should not only pay the school fees of their children but also monitor their movements at home and ensure that they do their homework.

The MP gave the advice during the 14th Graduation Ceremony/ Parents and Teachers Associationmeeting of Pastor Abaidoos Preparatory and Junior High School at OdorkorOtaten in Accra, on the theme: Developing the Child through QualityEducation.

Mr Appiah asked parents to pay regular visits to the schools of their wards to interact withthe management and teachers to motivate the staff to give of their best.

He said although Ghana is going through difficult times parents should strive to invest in theeducation of their children to secure their future.

Mr Appiah appealedto parents to provide the basic needs of the girl-child, so that they would notbe enticed with money and other material things by some unscrupulous men in thesociety to take undue advantage of them.

In his annual reportthe Proprietor of the school, Pastor Paul Abaidoo said the academic facilitywhich was established in 1998 has churned out a number of brilliant students.

Pastor Abaidoo saidin the 2011- 2013 Basic Education Certificate Examinations the school scored100 per cent pass.

He said the schoolhas a modern computer laboratory connected to the internet to facilitate theteaching and learning of Information, Communication and Technology.

Pastor Abaidoo said,among the laurels of the school was in 2013, when the students were among thefirst 20 out of 600 in a Best Mathematician Competition organised by PrymageConsultancy Limited.


Obuasi West MP accuses BoG of fraud

A Member of Parliament for Obuasi is accusing the Bank of Ghana of “fraudulently” massaging interbank exchange figures.

Kweku Kwarteng said the Bank of Ghana does not set administrative rates for the commercial banks. What it does is to factually report the rates at those banks.

He found it hard to believe that the Bank of Ghana, the regulators of banking activities in Ghana, would have an average interbank exchange rate set at 3.03 cedis to a dollar while the commercial banks would have theirs pegged at 3.8 cedis to a dollar.

The disconnect would only be as a result of fraud he insisted on Joy FM’s Newsfile programme, Saturday.

He was commenting on the intervention by two-time NPP Vice Presidential candidate Dr Mahamudu Bawumia who questioned the official figures churned out by the Bank of Ghana and the Statistical Service.

The Bank of Ghana set the average exchange rate at 3.03 cedis to a dollar at the end of August 13, 2014.

The Statistical Service on its part also indicated that inflation had gone up by just 1.5 per cent from (13.8% to15.3%).

Dr Bawumia said the two figures do not reflect the reality on the market.

“Where in Ghana today can you buy a dollar at close to GHC3.03? The large spread between the Bank of Ghana exchange rate and the interbank exchange rate indicates that the Bank of Ghana rate is being administratively set and not market driven,” he said of the exchange rate.

On the inflation rate Dr Bawumia said something is just not right.

“The rate of increase of prices in 2014 by our collective experience is clearly the highest in recent times, underpinned by the 40% depreciation of the exchange so far this year, increases in petroleum, utility and transportation prices, etc. The prices of most goods and services have virtually doubled and continue to increase daily.

This notwithstanding, the Ghana Statistical service data on inflation suggests that price increases in 2014 are slower than they were last year (2013). Between January and July 2014 inflation increased by only 1.5% (13.8% to15.3%) after all the increases in petroleum, utilities and other prices we have witnessed,” he argued.

Kweku Kwarteng said Dr Bawumia’s intervention was appropriate. He would not say the motive or the rationale for which the Bank of Ghana would give wrong figures except to emphasise that the figures are misleading.

A Deputy Communications Minister Felix Kwakye Ofosu said Dr Bawumia is being mischievous with his analysis.

He said the penchant with which Dr Bawumia has been criticizing the same institution he worked in or for, is unacceptable and must be called to order.

He reiterated that the methodology and the personnel who calculated the exchange rates under Bawumia as Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana are the same calculating the exchange under a new governor.

Minority laments: Majority chairs too many committees

Minority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, has admitted Parliament’s scrutiny of documents that comes before it for approval has not been diligent enough.

Mr Mensah-Bonsu fingered the current arrangement in the House where — with the exception of the Public Accounts and the Subsidiary Legislation committees — all other committees are chaired by the Majority as the key reason for Parliament’s weak scrutiny in the consideration of key reports.

“Elsewhere, where democracy really means something, where Parliament really means something, there is an arrangement to carry the Minority [and the committee systems] on board”, he said.

Citing France as a case in point, Mr Mensah-Bonsu said because a lot of the issues that pass through Parliament have financial implications the chair of the financial committee in the French Parliament is a member of the Minority party.

“Here it is almost an anathema to call for a restructuring of the committee systems in parliament”, he observed.

Ghana’s fourth republican constitution mandates Parliament to give a seal of approval before many of government businesses can be carried through.

The Constitution has also vested the control of all public funds in Parliament by granting it the power and duty to monitor the expenditure of public funds to ensure that the monies it has authorised are used for the purposes for which they are intended.

However, there is widespread criticism regarding the House’s inability to perform optimally.

The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), a governance think tank, for instance has once attributed Parliament’s poor performance to a hegemonic executive.

In order for Ghana’s Parliament to live up to its constitutional mandate, Mr Osei-Bonsu is also calling for an amendment of the current arrangement that allows the Executive to nominate majority of ministers from the House, saying the practice “imperils Parliament”.

He said until such amendments are made, Parliament will continue to perform poorly.

“It is no wonder that two years ago when African Parliaments came to be measured, our Parliament placed last but one”, he observed.


Give govt 20 more years to reform Ghana – Akandoh

National Democratic Congress (NDC)Member of Parliament (MP) for Juabeso, Hon. Kwabena Mintah-Akando has appealed to Ghanaian electorate to consider giving the ruling party another twenty [20] years in power.

According to him, the NDC is the only political party that has the political will to eradicate corruption which has been hanging around the neck of the nation like an albatross.

The NDC MP indicted the opposition New Patriotic Party [NPP] for “doing nothing” to rid the country of the canker when they had the opportunity to govern under the leadership of then President John Agyekum Kufuor.

Speaking on Accra-based Adom FM, the NDC legislator admitted that Ghana’s economy is challenged, but however, assured that the hardships being faced by Ghanaians now, will soon be over; and pleaded with the electorate to maintain the NDC in power for the next 20 years.

“The NDC is the only party with the strong will to fight corruption and I know Ghanaians will give us [NDC] 20 years more…The president [John Mahama] will do whatever it takes to fight corruption and ensure the economy is stabilized,” he said.