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- Created on Friday, 25 May 2012 00:00
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Castle Throws Out Jake; As Mills Snubs Supreme Court
The Presidency, yesterday, subtly told the Supreme Court that to hell with its ruling on the proposed acquisition of a government bungalow by a former minister in the Kufuor administration, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, describing the transaction as immoral.
A statement issued and signed by Information Minister, Fritz Baffour, stated, “In the supreme interest of the people of Ghana, and taking cognizance of the Supreme Court ruling in the matter of Mr. Jake Obetsebi Lamptey’s immoral acquisition of a state property he occupied as a Minister of State, Cabinet, at its sitting today, Thursday, May 24, 2012, has decided not to sell the said property.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed an action by the Deputy Minister of Information, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, and his colleague Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, in which they challenged the right of Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey, currently National Chairman of the of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), to purchase a state bungalow he had occupied as a minister during the Kufuor administration.
But in a latest twist to the saga, the government has nullified any transaction regarding the purchase, noting, “The property in question thus continues to remain the property of the State.”
According to Mr Baffour, Cabinet had also directed that no political appointee should ever be allowed to engage in what the statement described as “unacceptable transaction”.
The property, which is located at No. 2 Mungo Street in the Ridge residential area, which is currently being occupied by the Director of Operations at the Presidency, Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, was leased to Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey by the State at a cost of $400,000 for a period of 50 years under the Accra re-demarcation programme for development into a high rise facility which would have reverted back to the State after the expiration of the lease agreement.
Interestingly, the Castle boy who currently occupies the property made what many have described as a boisterous move when he also claimed to have applied to buy the bungalow on the land, after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Jake, because he was the current occupant and that he should have the first option.
Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa and Dr Omane Boamah, then private citizens, brought the action against Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey, who was once the Minister of Tourism, seeking a declaration from the court that he had no right to buy the bungalow he was occupying at the time. The plaintiffs had argued that the action of the respondent contravened articles 20 (5) and 20 (6) of the Constitution and smacked of cronyism, and gross abuse of the discretionary powers of a public officer.
They also alleged corruption and conflict of interest.
Mr. Obetsebi-Lamptey has since expressed surprise at the decision since, according to him, “the most important thing for the people of Ghana is the rule of law”.
He told DAILY GUIDE shortly after the decision became public yesterday “that it is a legal matter and I think the lawyers will be much better and will be able to deal with it.”
Asked whether he still had an interest in the facility, he said, “it’s leased to me by the Ghana government; I have a valid lease of it. So if somebody is claiming that they are not going to sell my property, I don’t know but we have to see.”
The NPP Chairman said he was therefore preparing to meet his lawyers to consider what next to do since he still had an interest in the property.
The court, presided over by Justice William Atuguba, on Tuesday, by a 6-3 majority decision, held that the plaintiffs failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the accusations of conflict of interest, cronyism and arbitrariness they had levelled against the Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey.
It was of the view that the NPP Chairman did not acquire the said property as a minister but as a private citizen after he had resigned from public office.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu
Source: Daily Guide/Ghana