Judgement on national cathedral suit Jan. 16

The Supreme Court (SC) will on January 16, 2019 give judgement on the case in which the government has been sued for allegedly sponsoring the construction of a 5,000-seater capacity national cathedral.

Mr. James Kwabena Bomfeh, also known as Kabila, a former Youth Organiser of Convention People’s Party (CPP), went to court to seek constitutional interpretation for what he called government’s involvement in religious activities.

Mr. Bomfeh urged the SC to restrain government or any of its representatives “from being involved in or taking any steps towards the construction of the Ghana National Cathedral, including the demolition of residences of justices of the superior courts”.

Kabila wanted government to be prevented from commencing “any civil works for the construction of the Ghana National Cathedral; and/or taking any action, measure or step preliminary or incidental to the construction of the Ghana National Cathedral”.

His lawyer, Dr. Basit Aziz Bamba, argued that Ghana was a secular state and that government should refrain from meddling in religious matters.

He said government must extend support for Christians and Muslims to other religions.

Dr. Bamba told the seven member panel of Judges, presided over by Justice Sophia Adinyira that the state must be neutral and treat all religions equally.

He stated that government’s involvement in Hajj pilgrimage (visit to Kabba the Holy land of Islam) was not right.

A deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice (A-G) Godfred Yeboah-Dame told the SC that secularism was encapsulated in Article 21(1) of the 1992 Constitution.

He said no issue had arisen in the case that warranted constitutional interpretation, and urged the court to dismiss the application.

Mr Dame submitted that no rival meanings had been placed on any constitutional provision.

The deputy A-G contended that in so far as no individual had been prevented from practising the religion of their choice, the instant action was without merit.

Mr. Dame opposed a motion on notice by Dr. Bamba, who asked for time to enable him amend two reliefs in his writ.

His opposition was upheld by the president of the panel of Justice Adinyira, who said, “The deputy A-G” was right and added that the amendment was highly irregular and totally wrong.

 

Mr. Bomfeh filed the suit last year and asked for “a declaration that the decision of the government of Ghana to purposely endorse, assist, aid, partly sponsor, and/or support the construction of a national cathedral near the State House of Ghana, for Christian interdenominational church services amounts to an excessive entanglement of the Republic of Ghana and religion and therefore unconstitutional”.

Plaintiff wanted the SC to declare the Hajj Board constituted by government illegal.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

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