MPs lose suit against GNPC

AN Accra Fast Track High Court (Commercial Division), has dismis-sed an interlocutory injunction suit brought before it by three Members of Parliament seeking to restrain the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), from accessing a US$700 million loan for its activities.

The ruling means that GNPC can now secure the loan to undertake the projects and activities it seeks to embark upon.

The court held that the applicants failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants, for which it was praying the court to uphold.

It further maintained that no irreparable damage could be done to the Members of Parliament if the said application was not granted, describing the motion as ‘baseless’.

“It does not occur to me that the applicants will suffer any damage if this application is not granted,” said Justice Janapare Bartels-Kodwo the presiding judge.

She said the GNPC did not breach any law in its quest to secure the loan because it has the right to do so.

On the basis of balance of convenience, Justice Bartels-Kodwo said it was appropriate to consider the respondents, because the applicants could not make a case against the GNPC.

She referred to a plethora of case laws including a Supreme Court ruling on Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority in which the court ruled in favour of the authority to contract a loan from an international entity.

Similarly, she mentioned the case of Ellis Amegah versus the Attorney General 2012, Messrs Martin Amidu vrs Isofoton, as some landmark cases considered in the ruling.

It is the case of the plaintiffs that GNPC is a state institution and therefore, any interest to contract a loan should pass through Parliamentary scrutiny.

In his submission, counsel for the defendant, Tony Lithur, opposed the assertion by the plaintiffs on the grounds that GNPC was an autonomous body and could secure loans to run the entity.

Prior to the ruling, both lawyers at the court served each other affidavit in support and opposition.

A motion filed by Nana Asante Bediatuo, counsel for the plaintiffs, on November 25, 2014, sought four reliefs; A perpetual injunction restraining the GNPC and its agents from contracting, securing, procuring and drawing down on a loan facility of the said amount or any other loan from any financial institution, whether situated in Ghana or not or embarking on any project, works and programmes without prior parliamentary scrutiny and approval.

The plaintiffs, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, MP for Tafo Pankrono, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, MP for Manhyia South and Samuel Atta Akyea, representing the Abuakwa South Constituency, were seeking a relief in a writ filed before the court to declare that GNPC’s contracting, procuring securing or otherwise acquiring or drawing a loan facility or any other without prior approval of Parliament, as unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void.

They also sought a declaration that the defendant’s decision to undertake a programme or project without parliamentary approval was ultra vires and violated the Petroleum Management Act 2011 (Act 815) and should be declared null and void.

By Malik Sullemana   

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