Businessman files contempt of court suit against Akufo-Addo over National Cathedral construction
A business man, Jonathan Holm, has prayed the Supreme Court for an order to commit President Akufo-Addo, represented by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, for Contempt of Court.
The suit also enjoined the Lands Commission as Defendant/Respondent.
The Plaintiff/ Applicant represented by Mr Bright Akwetey indicated that the demolition of government bungalows on the site unlawfully earmarked for the construction of a National Cathedral was unlawful, while the suit relating to the construction of the Cathedral was pending before the Supreme Court.
The plaintiff indicated that the respondent has taken action that trends to bring the administration of justice into disrespect and had willfully acted in violation to the Presidential Oath of Office.
He said the respondent has also acted in disrespect to the authority of the Supreme Court and had willfully interfered with pending litigation in a manner likely to prejudice a fair hearing of the case.
“The respondent has also acted in violation of the Constitution and the laws of Ghana,” he added.
The plaintiff through his lawyer on November 22, 2018 filed a writ to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in respect of the suit claiming the reliefs endorsed on the writ.
Mr Holm is seeking a declaration that the land designated by the President for the construction of the Cathedral was compulsorily acquired under Section 3 of the Public Lands Ordinance of 1876 (Cap. 134) from the Osu Stool by virtue of Certificate of Title dated November 29, 1910 for residential purposes for public officers and has been used for the public purpose for which it was acquired and therefore the user could not change to accommodate the Cathedral, which was not a public purpose or a project in the “public interest” within the meaning of Article 295 of the Constitution.
He is also seeking a declaration that if the land acquired under the Certificate of Title dated November 29, 1910 for residential purpose was no longer required for the purpose for which it was compulsorily acquired, the Lands Commission was enjoined by virtue of Article 20 (6) of the Constitution to grant the Osu Stool, the first option to re-acquire the land.
“An order of perpetual injunction to restrain the President and the Executive from appropriating the land under reference for use to construct a Cathedral in violation of Article 20 (5) and (6) of the Constitution and in breach of the trust expressly created by Section 3 of the Public Lands Ordinance, 1876 (Cap. 134) and Article 257 (1) of the 1992 Constitution in respect of lands compulsorily acquired for stated public purposes,” he added.
The plaintiff is also seeking an order confirming that the original public purpose for which the land was compulsorily acquired by virtue of the Certificate of Title dated November 29, 1910 is still valid.
The lawyer in the contempt suit said, he filed a statement of case in support of his earlier writ dated December 6, 2018 and both processes were served on the A-G and the Lands Commission.
He said the A-G and the Lands Commission filed their statement of case on December 21, 2018 and March 12, 2019 respectively.
“That the matter has been, and it is still, pending before the court,” he added.
He said the conduct of the President in having the bungalows demolished during the pendency of the suit constitutes a brazen disrespect for the Constitution and the laws of the country and undermines the authority of the Supreme Court.
Mr Akwetey said the National Cathedral was a private project conceived by the President and it was not a public purpose or a project in the “public interest” as known to the Constitution of the country, because the sod-cutting ceremony for the Cathedral was performed at the site unlawfully chosen for the construction of the said Cathedral before the President was sworn-in at the Black Star Square as the President.
He also said that any project to be constructed on any public land must be a project in the “public interest”.
He said according to the Constitution any project in the “public interest” must be a project that inures to the benefit generally of the whole of the people of the country.