Supreme Court orders Registrar to serve hearing notices on two Deputy Ministers Accra, Jan. 24, GNA – The Supreme Court (SC) has directed its Registrar to serve hearing notices on Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Information and Dr Edward Omane Boamah, Deputy Minister of Environment Science and Technology.

The court gave the directive on Tuesday in the case in which the two Deputy Ministers are challenging Mr Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey’s right to purchase a Government bungalow he occupied as a Minister of State.

At its sitting presided over by Mr Justice William Atuguba, the court noted that hearing notices had not been served on the two Deputy Ministers of State.

He, therefore, directed the Registrar to ensure hearing notices were served on them for the substantive issue to be heard and adjourned the case sine die.

At its previous sitting, the court unanimously dismissed preliminary objections raised by Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, National Chairman of New Patriotic Party (NPP), quizzing its jurisdiction to hear the case brought against him.

In the latter part of 2008 the two Deputy Ministers of State sued the Attorney-General, Chairman of Lands Commission and the Chief Registrar of Lands at the Lands Title Registry for allocating the property to Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey.

In a writ invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the applicants prayed the court to declare that by virtue of Articles 20(5), 23, 257, 258, 265, 284 and 296 of the 1992 Constitution, the Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing in the NPP Government, did not have the power to direct the sale, disposal or transfer of any Government or public land to Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey or any other person or body under any circumstances whatsoever.

The applicants also prayed the court to order that any such direction for the disposal, sale or outright transfer of the said property in dispute or any other public land to Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey was illegal and unconstitutional.

They were seeking a declaration that by virtue of Articles 20(5), 23, 257, 258, 265, 284 and 296 of the 1992 Constitution, the Government was obliged to retain and continue to use, in the public interest, the property in dispute.

The applicants were also seeking a further declaration that the purported sale of the said Government bungalow, located at St Mungo Street, Ridge, Accra, by the NPP Government to Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey was in utter contravention of Articles 20(5), 23, 257, 258, 265, 284 and 296 of the 1992 Constitution.

According to the plaintiffs, the Supreme Court should order that the purported direction by the then Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, for the disposal, sale or outright transfer of the said property in dispute to Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey smacked of cronyism, was arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory and a gross abuse of the discretionary power vested in a public officer under the 1992 Constitution.

They were praying the court to declare that a publication by the Chairman of Lands Commission and the Chief Registrar of Lands, which announced that the said property had been allocated to Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey was unconstitutional, void and must be struck out as such, since it was in contravention of Articles 20(5), 23, 257, 258, 265, 284 and 296 of the 1992 Constitution.

Furthermore, the plaintiffs were praying for an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the Chairman of Lands Commission and the Chief Registrar of Lands and their agents “From perfecting the registration of a parcel of land designated as Parcel No 29, Block 12, Section 019, in extent 1.04 acres more or less, as delineated on Registry Map No 003/019/1998, on which is situated in the Republic of Ghana Bungalow No 2, located at St Mungo Street, Ridge, Accra, in the name of Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey”.

A statement of case accompanying the writ said Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey allocated onto himself the Government bungalow in dispute as his duty post and resided at the said duty post at a huge cost to the State from 2001 to 2008, although he resigned from his public office sometime in 2007 to pursue his presidential ambition.

It said in 2001, when Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey was the Chief of Staff at the Presidency, the head office of Public Works Department carried out, at his behest, renovation to the tune of GH¢ 17,254 “Through Brockwell Construction & Engineering Limited, not to mention further additional refurbishment carried out at his instance to his taste at extraordinary expense to that State”.

According to the statement of case, Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey subsequently applied to the Chairman of Lands Commission and the Chief Registrar of Lands for a land title certificate to effectuate what it termed “The illegal and unconstitutional transaction”.

It said the Chairman of Lands Commission and the Chief Registrar of Lands took the above steps to regularise the grant to Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey a land certificate in relation to the said property to effectuate the purported sale of the said government bungalow and plot to him.

The statement of case said, the applicants wrote to the then Attorney-General, protesting the sale of the said bungalow, but the Attorney-General replied and pointed out that the matter was a Constitutional issue.

They further argued that the then Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, did not have the power to “Direct the sale, disposal or transfer of any government or public land to Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey or any person or body under such circumstances and that any such direction for the disposal, sale or outright transfer of the said property in dispute or any other public land to Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey was illegal and unconstitutional”.

The SC panel included Mr Justice Stephen Allan Brobbey, Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo. Ms Justice Rose Owusu, Ms Justice Sophia Adiniyira, Mr Justice Julius Ansah,  Mr Justice Jones Victor Dotse,  Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonney and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto- Bamfo.

GNA

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