A-G raises preliminary objection over bus branding case in court

Some members of Citizens Movement, Ghana in a discussion with their counsel after the court proceedings

The Accra High Court has set March 9, 2016 to rule on a preliminary objection raised by the Attorney-General (A-G) on the bus branding case brought before it by a pressure group, Citizens Movement, Ghana.

At the court’s sitting Monday, a Senior State Attorney, Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, argued that the applicants should have filed a writ to initiate the process instead of an application.

It was Ms Obuobisa’s submission that the case had not been brought properly before the court.

Counsel for the group, Mr Kofi Bentil, however, told the court that they were not served the preliminary objection.

The judge informed the court that it was filed on February 19, 2016, but Mr Bentil said the group did not have wind of it.

The court, presided over by Mr Justice Anthony Yeboah, therefore, ordered the two parties to file written submissions and file their legal arguments simultaneously on the preliminary objections.

The court would from there proceed to the substantive case in which the group is seeking, among other things, an order from the court to direct the Minister of Transport to make full disclosure on the contract for the branding of the 116 buses procured for the Metro Mass Transit (MMT) Limited.

The court would from there sit on the substantive matter which is anchored on Article 41(f).

The Minister of Transport and the A-G are the respondents in the case filed in December last year.

The case of applicants

The applicants—Mr  Lolan Ekow Sagoe-Moses, Ms Kathleen Addy, Mr Francis Kennedy Ocloo, Mr Evans Amegashie, Mr Yaw Baffuor Ankomah, Mr Kwame Barkers Ansah and Mr Michael Annor—who claim citizenship of Ghana, insist in their affidavit that one of the cornerstones of the 1992 Constitution is the principle of freedom, justice, probity and accountability.

They assert that Article 41(f) of the 1992 Constitution enjoins citizens to protect and preserve public property and expose and combat misuse and waste of public funds and property.

They, therefore, maintain that their action was brought before the court in the spirit of probity and accountability and pursuant to their civic responsibility under Article 41(f) of the Constitution.

It is the case of the applicants that sometime last year, reports emerged from Parliament that revealed that the government, acting through the Ministry of Transport, spent GH¢3.6 million on the branding of 116 buses at a cost of approximately GH¢31,000 per bus.

Following the revelation, the applicants said the artist who branded the bus granted interviews to the media, in which he claimed he charged GH¢1,600 per bus.

But “there has been no official reaction from the Ministry of Transport concerning the claims made by the artist”, the affidavit said.

The group said they were advised and believed that Article 21(f) of the 1992 Constitution guaranteed them fundamental right to information.

It said in the exercise of that right, the group wished to ascertain through the court and the Ministry of Transport, answers to ascertain pertinent questions concerning the award of the contract for the branding of the buses.

Its demands are whether or not the award of the contract was done in adherence to the Public Procurement Act, whether or not the contract procurement was competitive or sole sourced and whether or not there were alternatives to the contract.

Reliefs

It, therefore, asked for reliefs including an order that would direct the Minister of Transport to furnish the group with copies of the contract for branding the buses and copies of all documents relating to the contract for the branding of the buses and any further consequential orders as the court deemed fit.

 

Source: GraphicOnline

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