The acting Chief Justice, Mr Justice Julius Ansah, has apologised to nine justices of the Court of Appeal who are to be relocated from their residences at East Ridge in Accra to pave the way for the construction of a 5,000-seater national cathedral.
In a letter to the affected judges, Mr Justice Ansah apologised to the judges for the inability of the administration to provide them with timely written notification to relocate from their present residences.
The affected nine justices are Mr Justice F. Kusi Appiah, Ms Justice Mariama Owusu, Mr Justice Clemence J. Honyenuga, Ms Justice Avril Lovelace-Johnson, Ms Justice Margaret Welbourne, Mr Justice Saeed Kwaku Gyan, Mr Justice Lawrence L. Mensah, Mr Justice Gbiel S. Suurbareh and Mr Justice Anthony Oppong.
The letter recalled that on April 5, 2018, a delegation from the Office of the President had informed him of the government’s intention to utilise the entire area of land between the State House and the Ridge Roundabout for the construction of the proposed national cathedral project.
It said the delegation, which was led by the Most Rev. Dr Samuel Asante Antwi, a former Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, Ghana and Chairman of the National Cathedral Project Implementation Committee, included the Most Rev. Bishop Justice Offei Akrofi, a former Anglican Archbishop of Accra; Mr Peter Amewu, the then Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, and Dr Paul Opoku-Mensah.
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“As proposed, the National Cathedral Project will result in the demolition of all buildings within the project catchment area from the Ridge Circle to the Scholarship Secretariat, including bungalows occupied by our judges and the Judicial Training Institute at East Ridge.
“In lieu of this, the government has committed to construct twenty one (21) new bungalows on the Second Circular Road, Cantonments to replace the ones affected by the project. Construction of the new bungalows is expected to be completed and handed over to the service by January 2020,” it said.
Meanwhile, the letter said the government had provided temporary residential accommodation for all judges affected for the period during which the new bungalows would be constructed.
“These bungalows have been allocated to enable all judges affected to temporarily relocate from their present accommodation,” it said.
It said the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, by a letter dated July 24, 2018, formally confirmed the verbal representations made at the April 5, 2018 meeting regarding the relocation of the judges affected by the National Cathedral Project and the construction of the 21 new bungalows, as well as land for the Judicial Training Institute.
“The late formal communication from the Senior Minister made it difficult for us to give you early notification on the relocation from your current residential accommodation, although I admit that since the agreement in principle had been reached, it would have been proper for us to give you a hint at least. Please accept our apologies for the delay in notifying you of the relocation,” it said.
Meanwhile, the government’s decision to relocate the judges has not been well received by some individuals.
A legal practitioner and host of the news analysis programme, Newsfile, Mr Samson Anyenini, indicated that many people whose homes were situated on that stretch of prime land to be used for the cathedral, including the nine judges, had been served quit orders to vacate the area immediately.
He said the about 10 six-bedroom bungalows that would be demolished if the government carried out its plan were built only five years ago by the Judicial Service to house Court of Appeal judges.
However, the outgoing Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Amewu, said the government had rented alternative expensive bungalows for the judges to relocate temporarily, while it began the construction of over 20 new bungalows on a different land to replace those that would be destroyed to make way for the cathedral.