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Supreme Court dismisses suit against construction of National Cathedral, Hajj Pilgrimage

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
Supreme Court dismisses suit against construction of National Cathedral

The Supreme Court has dismissed a suit challenging state involvement in the construction of a National Cathedral and the setting up of the Hajj Board.

In a unanimous decision, a seven-member panel of the court held that the decision of the state had not breached any constitutional provision.

Rather, it held that the state’s actions were to provide social cohesion and unity since Christians and Muslims make up 88 percent of the country’s population.

It accordingly dismissed the suit on the basis that the plaintiff, James Kwabena Bomfeh, had failed to raise any constitutional question for interpretation or enforcement.

The judgement was read by the presiding justice, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyera.

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

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A deputy A-G, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, speaking to the media after the judgement

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Bomfeh’s case

In March last year, Mr Bomfeh, the acting General Secretary 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, wanted the apex court to declare the building of the National Cathedral and state involvement in the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca unconstitutional.

Dr Aziz Bamba, lawyer for James Kwabena Bomfeh

He was 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’’.

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 of the cathedral generated a debate, with the public divided over the project.

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