Justice Jones Dotse
The Supreme Court has in a unanimous decision dismissed the suit filed against the Attorney-General (A-G) and three others for going ahead with the Karpower agreement without recourse to Parliament.
The seven-member panel of judges, presided over by Justice Jones Dotse, said the reasons for the dismissal of the case would ready at the registry of the court by close of office yesterday.
The court last week deferred its judgment until 28th July 2016 because two of the panel members- Justices Anin-Yeboah and S. Gbadege- were not available.
The plaintiffs- Dr Mark Assibey–Yeboah, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for New Juaben South, sued the AG, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Ecobank over the deal.
The plaintiff, represented by Alexander Afenyo-Markin, an NPP MP for Effutu, was seeking the constitutionality of the Karpower agreement which in total will cost the taxpayer a whopping $100 million to enable the government ‘import’ 450 megawatts of power from Turkey to offset the current energy supply deficit.
He said they took the action after all efforts to get the government to send the Karpower agreement to Parliament for scrutiny failed.
Mr Afenyo-Markin noted that the agreement smacks of some ‘underhand dealings’ and that the nation is not in a position to waste more of the taxpayers’ money.
Afenyo-Markin, who is also a member of the Finance Committee of Parliament, had persistently raised the issue on the floor of the House in respect of Article 181 (Clause 5) of the 1992 Constitution, which states that every international financial agreement by government must be brought to parliament for approval.
After making several calls on the matter, Speaker of Parliament ordered the Minister of Finance to bring the Karpower agreement to the House, but since March when the order was given, the minister had failed to produce the agreement, compelling the speaker to allow the Effutu MP to resort to the courts for determination of the case.
Afenyo Markin is quoted as saying that the Minister of Finance had admitted in Parliament that the ministry issued a ‘comfort letter’ to the GNPC to cover the agreement, which means that the government had committed itself to issuing a guarantee that had been endorsed by Ecobank.
“The fact that the nation is facing serious energy crisis which requires urgent solution does not mean that the wrong thing must be done,” he declared.
The plaintiff is seeking a an order declaring that upon true and proper interpretation of article 181 and section 5 of Act 815, the issuance of a bank guarantee of $100 million by GNPC in support of Power Purchase Agreement between the ECG and Karpower, without prior approval, amounted to a breach of the said provision of the constitution.
The two stated that the issuance of bank guarantee to GNPC, without prior parliamentary approval, amounted to the usurpation of the constitutional mandate of parliament as enshrined in Article 18 (1) of the constitution and sections 5 of Act 815.
The plaintiffs also sought a declaration that the execution of the agreement between ECG and Karpower for the supply of 450 megawatts of electricity constituted an International Commercial Transaction of which government was a party and failure by the government to the seek prior parliamentary approval amounted to a breach of Article 181 (8) of the 1992 Constitution.
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson