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Monday, September 28, 2009

Rumpus over School Feeding Programme: NDC parades legal bigwigs in court

…But Sir John fails to show up

By Issah Alhassan,
THE PREMISES of the Kumasi High Court Three was a scene of anxiety and frustration yesterday when theNational Democratic Congress (NDC) led government delegated two prominent legal luminaries from the nation’s capital to defend its position on the battle over the School Feeding Programme.

Lawyer Kwabla Senanu of Senanu & Associates and Ely Agbemava stormed the Garden City fully armed with documents to defend the government’s decision to review the School Feeding Programme which is currently being contested in court by some old caterers with legal support from the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).

But it appears the government would have to wait a few more days, as the Kumasi High Court, presided over by His Lordship Justice G.H.K Debrah refused to quash the interlocutory injunction order placed on some officials of the current government from interfering with the programme, because of the absence of counsel for the plaintiffs, Lawyer Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, who is reportedly seeking medical treatment in London.

The court subsequently adjourned the case to the 8th of October and instructed that the old caterers be allowed to go on with their work.

The Honourable Member of Parliament for Asante Akim North, Hon.Kwaku Anyimadu, who was asked to replace Lawyer Owusu Afriyie on behalf of the 50 plaintiffs, who sought the injunction, also could not make it to the court, and one Lawyer Adom Appiah, who stepped in for the old caterers, only pleaded for an adjournment, arguing that he was yet to get the details of the case.

He further told the court that the substantive counsel for the plaintiffs had promised to be available at the next sitting, compelling Justice Debrah to postpone the case to 8th October, this year, instructing the plaintiffs’ counsel to make all documents available to him by the 6th of October.

The decision by the NDC government to terminate the contracts of some old beneficiaries of the programme, under the previous administration has been met with stiff opposition, after some 50 caterers filed a motion for an interlocutory injunction. restraining officials of the government, including the Ashanti Regional Minister and his Deputy, the Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive, the Metro Coordinator of the National School Feeding Programme and all District, Municipal and Metropolitan Chief Executives from interfering in the running of the programme in the region.

The motion ‘ex-parte’, which was filed on the 14th of September, 2009, by one Mary Serwaah on behalf of 49 other, sought to restrain any government official from meddling in the activities of the school feeding programme for ten day duration.

Tempers flared up in court yesterday, when the presiding judge adjourned the case to the 8th of October to pave way for the counsel for the plaintiffs to put forward his argument, as some NDC sympathizers who besieged the court threatened to defy the court orders and prevent the old caterers from operating. One of the counsels for the defendants, Lawyer Senanu, later told The Chronicle in an interview that he was very disappointed in the judgment.

According to him, he finds it extremely difficult to comprehend why the issue should travel to that extent, when the decision of the government was not to dismiss the caterers but only to streamline the operations of the programme and ensure equitable distribution of the contracts.

He said it was the policy of the NDC government to make sure every deserving Ghanaian got the opportunity to be part of the programme - under its slogan of “One Caterer, One School” agenda.

Source:The Chronicle

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