By: Ivy Benson

The scheduled judgment to be given by the Supreme Court (SC) on allegations of Constitutional breaches on the part of Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, a former Minister of State and current Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), for purchasing a state bungalow he occupied when he was a Minister of State, has been rescheduled.
The court, presided over by Justice William Atuguba, Acting Chief Justice, yesterday, fixed May 23, this year, as the new date to deliver the decision of the court, following the unavailability of one out of the nine panel members sitting on the case.
The parties in the case had already expressed their intentions to rely on the statements of case they had filed before the court, indicating that the documents filed were enough for the court to declare its final decision.
Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Information, and Dr. Edward Kofi Omane Boamah, Deputy Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, during the latter part of 2008, when they were then members of the pressure group, Committee for Joint Action (CJA), instituted an action against Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey and the Attorney General for breach of the Constitution.
The plaintiffs had invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, requesting the court to declare that by virtue of articles 20(5) of the 1992 Constitution, the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing in the previous 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.
They are also requesting 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.
The applicants are 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.
They are also seeking a further declaration that the purported sale of the said government bungalow, located at St Mungo Street, Ridge, Accra, by the previous 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 applicants, the Supreme Court should order that the purported direction by the then Minister for 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.
The applicants are praying the court to declare that a publication by the Chairman of the 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.
Additionally, the applicants are demanding for an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the Chairman of the 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 Republic of Ghana Bungalow No 2, located at St Mungo Street, Ridge, Accra, in the name of Hon. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey.”
A statement of case accompanying the writ said Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey allocated to 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 some time 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 the Public Works Department carried out, at his behest, renovations 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 the state.”
According to the statement of case, Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey subsequently, applied to the Chairman of the 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 the 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.
According to the statement of case, 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 for 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, is illegal and unconstitutional.”

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