Welcome Back, Ghana Gas, But …
The Sekondi High Court last Friday vacated its 14-working day injunction barring all but security staff from the Atuabo site of Ghana’s first gas processing plant.
Justice Kofi Akowuah had issued the restraining order on June 9, 2014, while ruling on a motion on notice by the Paramount Chief of Eastern Nzema Traditional Area, Awulae Amihere Kpanyili III, that the Government of Ghana lacked valid access to the land. Following the court order, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs. Marietta Brew Oppong, filed a motion on notice for the lifting of the injunction, which the Registry of the High Court fixed for hearing tomorrow, June 24.
However, reportedly without notice, the Attorney-General materialized in court of Justice Akowuah last Friday, while he was hearing cases fixed for the day. Anyone familiar with the workings of the Judiciary and the enormous power and prestige of the Office of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, knows that Justice Akowuah did not need to be told that he had to suspend whatever he was doing and immediately attend to his more-than-august visitor from Mount Olympus and her team of lawyers.
The long and short of amanee was that Madam wanted the injunction prohibiting the three companies and the estate developer working on the gas plant, which was not on the Cause List for the day, withdrawn because it was causing financial loss to the state and prolonging the dum sor, dum sor agony of Ghanaians.
Justice Akowuah called for the relevant file, setting the scene for Ghana Gas counsel Enoch Larbi-Aboagye, to disclose that prior to the construction of the gas processing plant, the company, together with officials of the Ministry of Energy had approached the Plaintiff and indicated the intention of the Government of Ghana, through the Company to site the gas processing plant at Atuabo.
“The Omanhene and other chiefs in the area were told that due to the urgency of the Western Corridor Gas Infrastructure Development Project and the fact that the acquisition process could delay the commencement of construction activities, the company wanted to commence activities while the acquisition processes were also pursued. “The Plaintiff agreed to the proposal and he was subsequently introduced to SINOPEC, the Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Commissioning Contractor for the gas infrastructure project”, he said.
Larbi-Aboagye, therefore, prayed the court to lift the order, adding that its continued pendency would lead to great hardship on the company, as the human and material resources mobilised to the project site at great cost will remain idle and unutilized. “It costs the company US$1,217,505 in labour costs for each day and US$17,045,070 for 14days that the expatriate workers will remain idle as a result of the restraining order.
The order will result in a delay of the supply of gas to the VRA for the generation of thermal power”, he pointed out.
The outcome was a foregone conclusion. With the situation contrived to keep the Omanhene and his counsel ignorant of the government’s emergency ex-parte application and under the glaring eyes of the Attorney-General, Justice Akowuah had no choice but allow access to the gas plant.
The Chronicle is happy that work has resumed on the gas plant. Alfred Ogbarmey and his bosses will not have anyone to make a scape goat of, for their perennial delays in the completion date. If Ghana Gas officials had been gentlemen enough and kept their promise to concomitantly process the land acquisition as they built the plant, this injunction would not have arisen.
Therefore, we are totally appalled by and disappointed at the Machiavellian tactic adopted by the Honourable Attorney-General. Her show of naked power was totally unnecessary. It is unfortunate that President John Dramani Mahama’s government seems to encourage its officials to be negligent in their duties only to cover up for them.
Instead of stopping and humiliating the Sekondi High Court, the Attorney-General should have continued to the Palace at Atuabo and had a quiet word with Awulae Amihere Kpanyili III. He would have gladly followed her to Sekondi to withdraw the case. The Chronicle prays Gold Almighty to continue to grant Justice Akowuah the courage and presence of mind to stand by judicial oath to do justice to all and sundry without fear or favour. As one sows, so shall one reap in due season. AMEN!