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1st and 2nd ladies are not eligible for ex-gratia, salaries of cabinet ministers – Supreme Court rules

The Supreme Court of Ghana has reportedly ruled that the spouses of the president of Ghana and his vice: the 1st and 2nd ladies, are not entitled to benefits of Article 71 office holders, including ex-gratia benefits.

According to GHOne TV, the apex court of the land made this declaration during its judgment on suits challenging parliament-approved recommendations by the Prof Yaa Ntiamoah-Baidu-led committee on emoluments for Article 71 officeholders that spouses of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia should receive the same monthly salaries as cabinet ministers.

A seven-member panel of the Supreme Court presided over by Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo delivered the judgment in the two separate suits challenging the payment of salaries approved for first and second Ladies.

The Member of Parliament for South Dayi, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor; MP for Builsa South, Dr. Clement Apaak; and Nii Tackie Commey, a private citizen, in one of the cases, sued the Attorney General, asking it reverse the payment of emoluments for 1st and 2nd ladies.

Also, in a separate action, the Bono Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kwame Baffoe, popularly known as Abronye DC, filed a similar action against the state.

On December 13, 2023, when the two cases were called separately, the Supreme Court initially fixed February 28, 2024, to deliver judgment but later deferred to April 24, 2024.

This was after the parties – plaintiffs and their lawyers – moved their cases and the same were responded to by the Office of the Attorney General, represented by Deputy Attorney General Diana Asonaba Dapaah.

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Here are details of the case, according to starrfm.com.gh

Arguments

Dafeamekpor’s lead counsel, George Kodzo Adabadze, stated that his team was going to rely on all documents filed, particularly their statements of case.

“We are before you basically challenging the extension of allowances of salaries to the wives of the president and vice president,” Kodzo Adabadze is quoted to have said in court.

He said that he relied on all documents filed and argued that the Prof Yaa Ntiamoah-Baidu-led Committee exceeded their jurisdiction.

“We are saying that they have exceeded their jurisdiction,” the counsel said.

Abronye DC’s submission

The lawyer for Abronye DC, Esinam Kporku, also stated that they relied on all processes filed, particularly the plaintiff’s Statement of Case.

It can be recalled that Esinam Kporku made news headlines after she was praised by the panel of judges for her submissions during proceedings in 2023.

AG’s responses:

Deputy Attorney General, Diana Asonaba Dapaah, while opposing Dafeamekpor’s case, argued that no cause of action has been raised.

“This action is premature and no cause of action is founded on recommendations,” the Deputy AG argued and urged the court to dismiss same.

On the other leg of the case from Abronye DC, she said, the contention of the state is that parliament’s adoption of the Prof. Yaa Ntiamoah-Baidu-led Committee recommendation is not unlawful.

Dapaah added that adoption by parliament does not create any Article 71 officeholders.

Panel

The panel, which was chaired by Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, included Justice Gabriel Pwamang, Justice Lovelace Johnson, Justice Prof. Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, Justice Barbara Ackah-Yensu, Justice Ernest Gawu, and Justice Samuel Asiedu.

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According to EIB Network’s Legal Affairs Correspondent, Murtala Inusah, the two cases were re-heard after some members of the previous panel retired in 2023.

Dafeamekpor’s case:

In the suit, the two MPs said the decision to pay the presidential spouses is inconsistent with the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and hence must not see the light of day.

“… per Article 71 (1) and (2), the positions of the first and second ladies of Ghana do not fall under the category of public officeholders.

“Per Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, the Emolument Committee is limited to recommending the salaries and other benefits and privileges of only public office holders.

“… per Articles 108 and 178 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana; parliament cannot, on its own accord, initiate or approve payment of any such emoluments; which would necessarily be paid from public funds; without a bill to that effect emanating from and introduced by the Government and passed into law,” part of the suit from the two MPs read.

They asked the Supreme Court to declare the approval of the recommendation by parliament as “null, void, and unenforceable.”

Parliament, as indicated earlier, had approved recommendations of the Prof Ntiamoah-Baidu-led Committee on emoluments for Article 71 office holders for which spouses of President Akufo-Addo and Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia will receive the same monthly salaries as cabinet ministers.

Mr Riddims

Mr Riddims, CEO of Riddims Ghana Network who is a Blogger | Artiste Promoter | Website Designer | Radio DJ | Artiste Manager | Music Distributer etc.

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