Petitioners advised to seek redress in court

Justice Yaw Apau - Judgement Debt CommissionerJustice Yaw Apau – Judgement Debt CommissionerThe Sole Commissioner on Judgement Debts, Mr Justice Yaw Apau, yesterday asked four petitioners who appeared before the commission to seek redress in court because their petitions did not fall within the mandate of the commission.

During the sitting of the commission yesterday, all the petitioners wanted the commission to enforce the payment of debts owed them by the state but their demands could not be met, since they still had their cases pending in court.

The first to appear was Mr Benjamin Nii Teiko Hammond, who is seeking compensation from the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing for using his intellectual property to design the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project (KLERP) without recourse to him.

Explaining how that came about, he told the commission that there had been a memorandum from the ministry on the restructuring and dredging of the Korle Lagoon and his outfit, Benleo Creations, had expressed interest in the project in 2004, for which the ministry demanded his financial and technical proposal towards the project.

He said even though he lost out on the project, the ministry used his designs for the KLERP which were his intellectual property, for which reason he wanted the commission to recommend to the ministry to pay him 30 per cent of the project cost for infringing on his copyright.

He said even though he took the ministry to court, no judgement was given

But Justice Apau, in his response, said the commission had not sighted any court documents on Mr Hammond’s petition indicating he took the matter to court.

He, however, advised Mr Hammond to pursue the matter in court, since the matter did not lie within the purview of the commission.

The next to appear was the Asunafo North Municipal Chief Executive, Alhaji Mohammed Kwaku Doku, who petitioned the commission to make an order for the Attorney-General (A-G) and the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department (CAGD) to pay him his end-of-year benefit as ordered by a High Court.

He said judgement had been given in his favour since 2004 to pay him GH¢4,000 but the state was yet to take action on the ruling.

Alhaji Doku, who served as a district chief executive in the Rawlings regime, said the money had currently ballooned to GH¢19,500, including interests, and that he sued the A-G and the CAGD for contempt.

He indicated that he further made a formal request through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to be heard but to no avail, hence his decision to bring his concern to the commission for redress.

Justice Apau expressed concern why Alhaji Doku had obtained a valid court judgement in his favour which had not been enforced.

He, however, said it was not for the commission to order the payment of his end-of-service benefit and advised Alhaji Doku to make a case to the current Local Government Minister for action.

Taking his turn, Mr Samuel Woolhouse Allotey Addo, unemployed, sought the commission’s assistance to claim his salary that had accumulated for 29 years.

He said the Government of Ghana terminated his appointment on account of causing economic sabotage to the state and he had, for the past 33 years, been fighting for his end-of-service benefits but to no avail.

Asked if he had been to court over the matter, he responded in the negative, even though he had petitioned some institutions.

Justice Apau expressed regret that people had lost confidence in the court process which informed Mr Addo’s decision not to seek justice in the court.

He advised him to go to court in pursuant of his issue.

The General Manager of Rockshell International Limited, Mr Alfred Ofei Kwesi Hall, who was the last to appear, was seeking justice in the payment of an outstanding judgement debt from the state after securing a court judgement.

He told the commission that part payment of the judgement debt had been received but the other half had been long outstanding, accruing interest.

Mr Hall, who appeared with his lawyer, Mr Emmanuel Goka, pleaded with the commission to submit a written note to the A-G’s office to expedite action on the matter.

Justice Apau was not happy that feet dragging was what accounted for some of the huge judgement debts because of mounting interest.

Sitting continues on April 30, 2013.

Story: Sebastian Syme

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