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Hearing of suit on construction of National Cathedral- Supreme Court adjourns to Nov 6

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
• An artist’s impression of the National Cathedral
• An artist’s impression of the National Cathedral

The Supreme Court has given a seven-day ultimatum to parties involved in a suit challenging the construction of a National Cathedral to file their memorandum of issues.

The memorandum of issues is what the court will set out for determination in the case During hearing last Wednesday, the seven-member panel said the one-week ultimatum was to ensure that proceedings were done expeditiously.

“We want to expedite proceedings in this matter,” the seven-member panel, presided over by Mr Justice Julius Ansah, said.

Other members of the panel were Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyera, Mr Justice Jones Dostse, Mr Justice Anin Yeboah, Mr Justice Sule Gbadegbe, Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo and Mr Justice A.A. Benin.

In court were James Kwabena Bomfeh, the applicant, and his lawyer, Dr Aziz Bamba, while the state was represented by a Deputy Attorney-General, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame.

Hearing continues on November 6, 2018.

Background

President Nana Akufo-Addo cut the sod for the construction of the national cathedral on March 6, 2017, as part of events that marked Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary.

Funding for the 5,000-seater edifice is to be sourced from individuals within the Christian community.

Plans by the government to demolish houses, including those housing judges, on the land around Ridge in Accra to make way for the construction generated a debate, with the public divided over the project.

Bomfeh’s case

In March 2017, Mr Bomfeh, the Director of Elections of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), invoked the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, arguing that Ghana was a secular state and, therefore, it was wrong for the state to be “excessively entangled in any religion or religious practice”.

He, therefore, wants the apex court to declare the building of the national Cathedral and state involvement in the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca unconstitutional.

He is seeking “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 in religion and therefore unconstitutional”.

In September 2018, Mr Bomfeh filed an application for interlocutory injunction seeking to restrain any activity towards the construction of the cathedral, including the demolition of residences of judges.