General News of Friday, 21 July 2017
A contempt case filed by a former Managing Director (MD) of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), Dr Yaw Akoto, against the current MD of the refinery, Mr Isaac Osei, and a broadcast journalist, Mr Paul Adom-Otchere, has been dismissed by the Accra High Court.
In a ruling on Thursday, the presiding judge, Mr Justice Kweku T. Ackah-Boafo, held that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case.
“The application is struck out on the grounds that this court is not the appropriate forum,’’ he said.
The contempt application by Dr Akoto was in relation to an interview granted by Mr Osei to Mr Adom-Otchere and aired on Metropolitan Television (Metro TV) on June 21, 2017.
In the said interview, Mr Osei is said to have stated that he had no official residence because it was still being occupied by Dr Akoto, who was relieved of his post in 2002.
But the said comment did not go down well with Dr Akoto, who argued in his application for contempt that his removal as TOR MD in 2002 was a matter still pending before the Court of Appeal.
He contended that the comments by Mr Osei were “motivated by the ill-desire to give the administration of justice a bad name and destroy its credibility”.
“It is not only improper but indefensible for the 1st respondent (Mr Osei) to make it appear that the applicant’s (Dr Akoto’s) present occupation of the residence is unlawful. The conduct of the respondents (Mr Osei and Mr Adom-Otchere) is intentional, deliberate and calculated to undermine the trust and confidence in the Judiciary,’’ the contempt application alluded.
In their affidavits in opposition, Mr Osei and Mr Adom-Otchere were of the view that the contempt application wrongly invoked the jurisdiction of the High Court and had no merit.
Making his case, counsel for the two respondents, Mr Thaddeus Sory, argued that the High Court had no jurisdiction to entertain any contempt proceeding because there was nothing pending before it in relation to the case.
“At all material time to the application, the suit between the applicant and TOR and upon which the instant proceedings are founded are pending before the Court of Appeal and not this court,’’ he said.
Mr Sory also submitted that Dr Akoto, in his application, failed to demonstrate how his client’s actions “constitute contempt of court in terms of prejudicing or impeding proceedings before the court’’.
Dr Akoto was appointed as the MD of TOR on December 1, 1999 during the administration of former President J.J. Rawlings. He was, however, purportedly removed from office during the administration of former President J.A. Kufuor on June 12, 2002 by the then Energy Minister, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah.
Dissatisfied with his removal, he instituted a legal action at the High Court against Mr Kan-Dapaah and argued that his removal was without “recourse to the Board of Directors of TOR or his service contract’’.
On October 19, 2004, the High Court, presided over by Ms Justice Barbara Ackah-Yensu, gave a judgement on the case and ordered TOR to pay Dr Akoto all his entitlements under his employment contract as of June 10, 2002.
Also, TOR was ordered to pay him a “one-month salary in lieu of notice of termination’’.
The court, however, ruled that Dr Akoto was not entitled to continue to stay in the official residence allocated to him and gave him a two-month grace period to vacate.
The court further ordered Dr Akoto to pay TOR ?145,200,000 (old cedis) as rent.
Both TOR and Dr Akoto were not happy with the judgement and subsequently appealed at the Court of Appea