Communication Consultant at the National Health Authority, Eric Ametor Quarmyne has praised the High Court ruling ordering the Attorney General to give all relevant documents on the bus branding to the Citizen Ghana Movement.
According to him, the court’s ruling makes it possible for journalists to access information from public officials.
On April 13, the Human Rights Court in Accra, gave its ruling on the controversial case brought by the Citizen Ghana Movement asking it to compel the Attorney-General to submit to the pressure group the contract and other documents relating to the transaction with Smartty’s Productions.
Delivering his judgment, Justice Anthony Yeboah made it clear that citizens are entitled to access information from public officials.
According to him, because the bus branding issue is of public interest, members of the public have the right to request for information.
He ordered the Attorney-General (A-G), who was the respondent in the case, to make all documents with regards to bus branding contract available to the group with the exception of documents regarding trade secrets and national defense.
Mr. Yeboah further directed that all questions posed by the group be answered by the A-G within “14 days of service of the entry of judgment”.
Speaking on the Joy FM/MultiTV’s news analysis program, NEWSFILE, Mr. Ametor Quarmyne said: “I am happy about this ruling” adding it helps to push the public interest.
He, however, cautioned that the ruling is likely to make public officials and “public institutions to tacitly hold to information” until there is a court order.
He questioned the motive of the group in taking the matter to court since government had taken steps to retrieve the excess payments following the public outrage over the expenditure.
Some 116 buses were branded at a cost of 3.6 million cedis caused public outrage compeling government to retrieve 1.5 million cedis from the company that executed the contract, Smartty’s Management and Productions Limited.
A number of citizens, dissatisfied with the steps taken by government, went to court demanding full disclosure.
Commenting to the court ruling, private legal practitioner, Egbert Faibille Jr. described the judgment as “groundbreaking”.
He said the direction of the judgment was expected, adding the right to information law is “not even necessary” given the rights granted Ghanaians in Article 41 of the 1992 Constitution.