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Court adjourns Vodafone, GT sale case to March 9

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The Supreme Court, on Monday adjourned to March 9, the sale of Ghana Telecom (GT) to Vodafone International Holdings BV case.
This was after the nine-member panel had found that the High Court which referred the matter to it had not complied with the rules of the court.

The Court said: “We find that the trial High Court did not comply with rule 67 of CI 16. We hereby order the High Court to comply within 14 days.”

Rule 67 of CI 16 states: “A reference to the court before determination of any question, cause or matter pursuant to any provisions of the Constitution or of any other law shall be by way of a case stated by the court below or by the person or authority making the reference.”

The sub-rule stipulates that the case should contain a summary of the action or matter before the court below, argument of counsels, if any, among others.

Mr Festus Kayi, Counsel for GT, Mr Kojo Koomson and Mr Bright Akwetey who represented the Registrar-General’s Department and plaintiffs respectively, told the court that they had only been served with hearing notices on Monday. The Attorney General was not represented.

The panel includes Mrs Justice Georgina T. Wood who presided, Mr Justice William Atuguba, Professor S.K. Dateh-Bah, Mr Justice S.A. Brobbey, Ms Justice Rose Owusu.

The rest are Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Mr Justice Jones Victor Dotse, Mr Justice Anin Yeboah and Mr Justice B.T. Aryeetey.

The issues set out before the court include whether or not an agreement executed by the government and ratified by Parliament could be challenged in the High Court, and whether or not any procedural or substantive errors or defects in the Sale and Purchase Agreement was or could be cured by the ratification by Parliament.

The Supreme Court would also determine whether or not Articles 61.6, 10.7, 12, and 13.21 of the Sales and Purchase Agreement dated July 3, 2008 and executed by government, Vodafone International Holdings BV and Ghana Telecom contravenes the country’s constitution and therefore renders the agreement void.

Six Ghanaians initiated the legal action against the government last year at the Commercial Court and the representatives of the Attorney General, counsels for Vodafone and the Registrar-General agreed on the issues stated.

The six  – Professor Agyemang Badu Akosah, Kosi Deddey, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, Naa Kordai Assimeh, Rodaline Imoru Ayarna and Kwame Jantua – initiated the action against the government in October last year.

The referral of the issues to the Supreme Court was prompted by the fact that they bordered on the 1993 Constitution and thus need interpretation for which the Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction.

The referral of the case, which has Ghana Telecom (now Vodafone) and the Registrar-General’s Department as interested parties, temporarily halts proceedings at the Commercial Court until the determination of the issues by the Supreme Court.

In the substantive suit, the plaintiffs are contending that the Sale and Purchase Agreement entered into among the Government of Ghana, GT and Vodafone for the sale of 70 per cent of GT for $900 million was against public interest and constituted an abuse of the discretionary powers of the government.

They said they were opposed to the unlawful establishment of the said Enlarged GT Group, as it undermined the sovereignty of the country and endangered the national security of Ghana.

According to them, the decision of the government to transfer the assets, properties, shares, equipment, among others, to Vodafone was obnoxious, unlawful and inimical to the public interest, particularly when no consideration was required to be paid by Vodafone for the stated assets.

The group argued that the three Ministers of State and the managing director of GT who signed the agreement on behalf of the government did not exercise the requisite level of circumspection required of them as public officers in relation to public property.

The plaintiffs are, therefore, seeking reliefs from the court, including a declaration that the agreement entered into by the government was not in accordance with the due process of law and was, therefore, a nullity.

They are also demanding that the court should give an order declaring that the forcible grouping of autonomous state institutions established by law – Voltacom, Fibreco, VRA Fibre Network and VRA Fibre Assets – with GT to form the purported Enlarged GT Group was unlawful and, therefore, void and of no legal effect.

The plaintiffs are further praying for an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the government from disposing of its 70 per cent share of GT to Vodafone or any other foreign company without first exploring avenues for funding and better management in Ghana.

Source: GNA

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