Supreme Court gives AG 7 days to respond to Ghana-US military agreement suit

BY: Mabel Aku Baneseh
Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo
Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo

The Supreme Court has directed the Attorney-General’s Office to file the state’s written response to a suit challenging the Ghana-US Military deal within seven days.

The order followed a request from the state that it needed an extension of time to file its written response to the case.

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A Supreme Court judge, Mr Justice Gabriel Pwamang, who is hearing the case as a sole judge, gave the directive after the state had requested for more time to respond.

The defence agreement between Ghana and the US allows US military and civilian personnel access to certain facilities in Ghana and provides them privileges, exemptions and immunities equivalent to those accorded the administrative and technical staff of diplomatic missions under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of April 18,1961.

Ghana is also expected to benefit from an aid package in excess of $20 million from the US in the areas of training and grants to the police and the military.


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Suit

Displeased with the deal, the Ashanti Regional Youth Organiser of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Yaw Brogya Genfi, filed a writ invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, praying it to declare as unconstitutional the agreement reached between Ghana and the United States.

He also wants the agreement annulled.

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The applicant wants the court to declare the agreement as invalid on the grounds that the President of Ghana failed to execute the agreement, as prescribed by Article 75 of the 1992 Constitution, before sending it to Parliament for ratification.

Mr Genfi is demanding nine reliefs, including a declaration that the Minister of Defence acted in contravention of articles 58 (1), 75 and 93 (2) of the 1992 Constitution when he laid or caused to be laid before Parliament an “unexecutive” draft of the supposed defence cooperation agreement for ratification under Article 75 of the 1992 Constitution.

According to the applicant, neither the Executive nor the Legislature had the power to enter or ratify a treaty that seeks to oust the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in matters of interpretation of international agreements.

Walkout

The Minority in Parliament walked out when the matter came up for ratification, claiming it would not have anything to do with the agreement.

The Majority, nonetheless, went ahead to ratify it on March 23, 2018.

Per the agreement, Ghana has entered into collaboration with the US military, which will allow the latter unfettered access to some facilities.

The deal will also allow for military training activities between the armies of the two countries.

Adjournment

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has indefinitely adjourned a similar suit filed by the Builsa South MP, Dr Clement Apaak, challenging the agreement.

This is because Dr Apaak had not been notified of the hearing.