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Dafeamekpor Injunction Application: Chief Justice did no wrong says Gary Nimako Marfo

Gary Nimako Marfo explained that per the rules, all requirements necessary for the Supreme Court to hear the application had been fulfilled

Lawyer in private practice and director of legal affairs for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Gary Nimako Marfo, has stated that the Chief Justice of the Republic, Justice Gertrude Araba Sackey Torkornoo, did no wrong in constituting a five-member panel to hear the injunction application filed by Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor on Wednesday, 27 March 2024.

Speaking in an interview on the Big Bulletin, Asaase Radio’s evening news analysis programme with Kayleb Ahinakwah, on Wednesday, 27 March 2024, the learned lawyer pointed out that the application filed by the NDC Member of Parliament for South Dayi was ripe for hearing because the Attorney General had filed its affidavit in opposition and statement of case to the application.

He further pointed out that once all the parties had filed the relevant processes to the application, it was immaterial even if the lawyers were not present at the time the application was heard because once all the parties had filed the relevant processes, the court was ceased with jurisdiction to hear the application.

“When you issue a writ, within 14 days, you need to file your statement of case, or you can do it together with the filing of the writ. When you do it, you have to serve the AG or all other parties that are of interest in the matter. Having done so, the AG and the other parties will have to respond whether immediately or within 14 days.

“On the back of the injunction application, I do not understand why someone will say fixing the matter to be heard by a panel demonstrates that the Chief Justice is biased in the matter. I don’t get it. Clearly, whoever is saying this doesn’t understand how the judicial system works in this country, ” Gary Nimako further explained.

He further submitted that he would have been surprised if the Chief Justice did not attach a sense of urgency to this particular application because of how serious it was. Nimako Marfo further noted that it surprises him that the applicant in the case in question and his lawyers will attempt to evade service when the apex court was willing to deal with their application quickly.

“The Parliament of Ghana through its Speaker, had decided not to carry out its constitutional duty of approving ministers nominated by the President because of a pending interlocutory injunction application and you want to suggest that such a case should not be dealt with expeditiously? That can certainly not be right” Gary Nimako pointed out.

The application

Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor (Plaintiff), on Monday, 18 March 2024, filed a suit at the Supreme Court against the Speaker of Parliament (1st defendant) and the Attorney General (2nd defendant), seeking a declaration that the non-vetting of ministers of state whose appointments were revoked by the President on 14 February 2024 but were resigned to new portfolios is unconstitutional.

Ministerial changes

President Akufo-Addo on Wednesday, 14 February 2024, in a letter signed by Eugene Arhin, the director of communications at the Jubilee House, announced the biggest reshuffle to his government since assuming office on 7 January 2017.

In the reshuffle, President Akufo-Addo relieved some 13 ministers and 10 deputy ministers of their post. However, the President, in the same statement, reassigned 6 persons out of the relieved ministers into various portfolios.

Applicants contention

Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor contends that once the president relieved the Ministers of their posts, their reassignment constitutes a new appointment that requires parliamentary approval To this end, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor’s suit filed by Nii Kpakpo Samoa Addo, Solicitor for the Plaintiff at the registry of the Supreme Court, sought for ten reliefs (seven declarations and three orders) from the Supreme Court.

In Court

At the hearing of the interlocutory injunction and not the substantive application, lawyers for the applicant (Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor) were absent from court. However, the court proceeded with the hearing after the five-member panel presided over by the Chief Justice, confirmed from the bailiff of the Supreme Court that all the parties had been served.

Lawyers for the Speaker of Parliament, led by Thaddeus Sory, and the Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, both opposed the application for interlocutory injunction stating that the suit filed by Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor had nothing to do with the ongoing parliamentary process of vetting newly nominated ministers and deputy ministers of state and that, in their understanding, there is no justifiable reason why the suit as instituted at the Supreme Court, should stop Parliament from proceeding with the vetting and approval of ministerial nominees of the President of the Republic.

By Court

The Supreme Court, after hearing the submissions of the Attorney-General and lawyer for the Speaker of Parliament, dismissed the interlocutory injunction, noting that the application was frivolous and constituted an abuse of the court process.

“Two sets of ministers were presented in the 14 February communication to the Speaker of Parliament by the President. The case before this court deals with the second set of reassigned ministers. The reassigned ministers have no bearing on the vetting and approval of the nominees before Parliament.

“There is no reason to stay at the hands of Parliament from approving the ministers who have been vetted. The application is dismissed as frivolous and an abuse of the court processes. The suit will take its normal cause,” the Supreme Court ruled.

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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