Jake Floors Mills Boys


photoJake Floors Mills Boys

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 majority decision, yesterday dismissed a case of conflict of interest brought against Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), for showing interest in acquiring a state property...   


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The court argued that the plaintiffs, Dr Edward Omane Boama, deputy Minister of Youth and Sports and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, a deputy Minister for Information, failed to prove the conflict of interest allegation levelled against Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey.

The court ruled that Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, a former Tourism minister, did not abuse any law of the land by making an offer for the house.

The two NDC deputy ministers had dragged the NPP chairman to court on an allegation of conflict of interest and abuse of office, asking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to delve into the matter.

The court, presided over by Justice William Atuguba, averred that the former minister had the right under the constitution to purchase the bungalow in which he lived because the bungalow was bought in his capacity as a citizen and not a minister.

The other members of the panel were Justices Sophia Akuffo, S. A. Brobbey, Sophia Adinyira, Rose Owusu, Jones Dotse, Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, B. T. Aryeetey and Vida Akoto Bamfo.

Six of the panel members were on the side of Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey, while Justices William Atuguba, Sophia Akuffo, and Vida Akoto Bamfo were against him.

Mr Okudzeto-Ablakwa and Dr. Omane Boamah had accused the NPP chairman of conflict of interest and had gone to the Supreme Court seeking an interpretation of Articles 20 (5) and 20 (6) of the constitution regarding ownership of State property.

Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey speaks to the media after the 6-3 judgment in favour of him yesterday.The court was to decide if the buying of state property by the NPP chairman, who was then Minister for Tourism, amounted to gross abuse of discretionary powers of a public officer.

They accused the NPP chairman of abusing his office by grabbing a public property for his personal aggrandizement and prayed the court to stop any attempt by Obetsebi-Lamptey to acquire the property.

The nine-member panel had previously noted that although the case passed for a land case, which falls within the domain of the High Court, the plaintiffs were not laying claim to the property in question but rather seeking an interpretation of several provisions of the Constitution regarding state property ownership.

According to Justice Atuguba, it had jurisdiction by law and precedents to hear the case which bordered both on constitutionality and public interest.

Justice Adinyira had earlier noted that whereas there was a case of conflict of interest in the administration of public lands, the constitution conferred the right on the public to take action to protect the state.

That, she stated, would ensure that public officers did not breach the Constitution to ensure probity, accountability and good governance.

In 2008, Mr Ablakwa and Dr. Boamah brought the action against the NPP chairman seeking a declaration from the court that he had no right to buy the bungalow at Number Two Mungo Street in the Ridge residential area that he was occupying at the time.

The plaintiffs had argued that the action of Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey contravened Articles 20 (5) and 20 (6) and smacked of cronyism and gross abuse of discretional powers of a public officer.

Justice Brobbey, on his part, told the court that the verdict should not be misconstrued as condoning the practice in which public officers exploited their official positions for private gain.

He said he would rather want the house in question to be given to the medical association and added that allegations of conflict of interest, corruption against any public officer should be proven beyond all reasonable doubt.

Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey, in an interview with the media, after the court ruling, stated that the plaintiffs had only wanted to use propaganda to destroy him.

He said the two people should learn lessons from the outcome of the ruling.

Dr. Omane-Boamah told the media that in due course, he and Mr Okudzeto-Ablakwa would announce a series of actions they would embark upon to ensure a reversal of the court’s decision.

By Stella Danso Addai

Source: Daily Guide/Ghana



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