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Supreme Court affirms decision to strike out law on marijuana cultivation in Ghana

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Supreme Court has in a majority 5-4 decision affirmed its view that the law allowing cultivation of weed in Ghana was unconstitutionally passed by Parliament.

Presiding Judge Justice Dotse stated that the threshold a party ought to meet to enable it to review its own judgement has not been met.

The court in July 2022 struck out Section 43 of the Narcotics Narcotics Control Commission Act, Act 1019.

This provision stipulated that “the Minister on the recommendation of the Commission, may grant a licence for the cultivation of cannabis popularly referred to as “wee” in Ghana, which is not more than 0.3 % THC content on a dry weight basis for industrial purposes for obtaining fibre or seed for medicinal purposes.”

However, the Apex court in a 4-3 majority decision annulled this provision and declared that it is a violation of Article 106 of the 1992 constitution.

This article reads;

“No bill, other than such a bill as is referred to in paragraph (a) of article 108 of this Constitution, shall be introduced in Parliament unless-

a. it is accompanied by an explanatory memorandum setting out in detail the policy and principles of the bill, the defects of the existing law, the remedies proposed to deal with those defects and the necessity for its introduction; and

b. it has been published in the Gazette at least fourteen days before the date of its introduction in Parliament.”

The private citizen, Ezuame Mannan argued that the explanatory memorandum that was laid in parliament did not sufficiently lay out the policy change that was being brought by the law, specifically by section 43.

This policy change he insisted was not debated enough before its passage into law. The Apex Court upheld this position.

The Attorney General however filed processes asking the court to review its decision. Mr Dame told the court the original panel committed an error of law.

“Fundamental and grave errors have occasioned a substantial miscarriage of justice. It is only at the beginning of the process that there must be a memorandum.

“There is no requirement for a memorandum to further accompany any amendment made by Parliament. Such a reading of the law imposes a further burden on Parliament and curtails its autonomy in passing laws, Mr Dame stated.

The lawyer for the private citizen Effiba Amihere disagreed.

“No miscarriage of justice has been occasioned by the decision of the court. We will respectfully talk about the amendment which is section 43, that was sneaked in at the time that the full debate had concluded.

“That it was contrary to the Constitution. The AG has said that in amending the law, there is no need for the memorandum, the issues as well as the departure from the national policy, the position do the plaintiff is that, at the time of the debate, this particular amendment that was sneaked in, was not part. The nation was not made aware of the clear change in the policy.” She stated.

Justice Jones Dotse ruled that the review threshold of the court had not been met. Justices Jones Dotse, Prof Kotey, Mariama Owusu, Prof Henrietta Mensah Bonsu, and Emmanuel Kulendi formed the majority while Justices Lovelace Johnson, Amadu Tanko, Samuel Asiedu and George Koomson formed the minority.

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Parliament resumes sittings today

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The Eighth Parliament will return today, Tuesday, June 6 after weeks of recess.

It will be the commencement of the Second Meeting of the Third Session.

Notice was given on the resumption by Speaker Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin on Friday, May 19.

It was in pursuance of Standing Order 37 of the Parliament of Ghana.

The House will on Tuesday officially accept new member for Kumawu Constituency, Eric Yaw Anim.

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We haven’t been compensated – Some June 3 disaster victims

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Eight years after flood and explosion occurred at the GOIL fuel station at Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Ghana’s capital city Accra, killing and injuring people who had sought refuge from the floods that had occurred during a heavy downpour on June 3, 2015; some survivors and victims are calling for help after not receiving any compensation.

Three of the victims who were severely burnt; Kasim Suraj, Thomas Sekyi and Alex Mensah recounted their ordeal and how the accident has affected them adversely to Johnnie Hughes on 3FM Community Connect on Friday, June 2, 2023.

According to them, life has been very difficult for them both socially and economically after losing their livelihood and getting defaced by the fire. Alex Mensah who used to work as a commercial bus driver recounted how people stare at him and sometimes refuse to sit by him in public transport.

“Even my own children said I am not their father when I went home after I was discharged from hospital. It took them some time to accept my situation. There are other children too who cry or flee when they see me. Because of these experiences, we find it difficult to go into social gatherings” he added

The trio revealed on 3FM 92.7 that they haven’t received any insurance or compensation and are bearing the cost of treatment themselves but sometimes they don’t go for their reviews because of financial constraints.

Kasim Suraj, also a former driver mentioned that he has undergone twenty surgeries over six years because the fire destroyed his eyes as well as the bones in his head and needs a headgear to protect his brain harsh weather but couldn’t afford it.

“I was on admission in the hospital when some money was brought to me to use for my medical bills and that I will be given compensation when I am discharged. However, upon my discharge, they told me I have received my compensation already. Is the money for medical bills compensation?” he quizzed.

They also appealed to fuel stations and people who deal in highly combustible items to be safety minded and adhere to all safety precautions in order not to endanger lives and properties.

Thomas Sekyi on behalf of the group of victims and survivors of the June 3 disaster numbering ninety six (96) is appealing to government, individuals and organisations to come to aide and also provide employment opportunities to the capable ones among them.

According to the Bureau of Public Safety, 154 lives were loss and 150 people sustained various degrees of injuries in ‘Fire and Flood’ disaster of June 3, 2015

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Payment of ‘Mahama’s’ expensive and wrong take or pay power debt has affected Ghana’s economy – World Bank

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The World Bank has said the Power Purchasing Agreements signed by former President John Mahama, which the Akufo-Addo Government had no choice but to pay, has contributed significantly to the economic woes of the country.

The former President’s administration signed take-or-pay agreements, committing Ghana to pay for billions of cedis for excess energy it does not need.

For a government that had failed to raise enough money to pay for the country’s power needs, thereby plunging the country into nearly five years of dumsor, the Mahama administration signing such an expensive take-or-pay deal at the twilight of the regime raised eyebrows in Ghana and abroad.

Since inheriting the take or pay agreement by the Mahama administration, the Akufo-Addo government has so far committed over 12 billion Cedis to service the debt for power Ghana does not need, and the agreement is still suffocating the nation.

In the midst of Ghana’s return to the IMF for a balance of payment support, the World Bank has emphatically faulted the Mahama agreement as a major cause of Ghana’s economic difficulties and has called for an urgent review of what it described as “wrong and expensive’ agreements.

“In the aspect of Ghana, those contracts you signed with the PPA are too expensive’, World Bank Country Director Mr. Pierre Frank Laporte told Joy News of the contract signed by the Mahama administration.

“The kind of PPA you signed, it means Ghana is paying for electricity not in use through doubling of capacity.”

“The fact is, in the last few years, Ghana entered into some PPAs that were wrong. These types, in our view, were at the wrong rate and at the wrong prices and today you’re paying duly for it. And today the country is being billed for many of these wrong PPAs.”

So far, the government has paid a whopping 12 billion to service this automatic debt as a result of the inescapable nature of the agreement, and with the country having to continue paying, the World Bank Director called for an urgent review and backed steps the government has taken for a review of the deal.

“I know that the government has started some talks with the IPPs to renegotiate some of these PPAs,” he said.

The Akufo-Addo government has been hailed for its ability to pay for power generation for over six years – thus ending the over four-year-dumsor Ghana faced due to the erstwhile Mahama Government’s inability to pay for power generation.

The erstwhile Mahama Government committed Ghana to a number of Power Purchasing Agreements before it lost power in 2016.

The agreements, numbering over 40, committed Ghana to over $1 billion dollars of take or pay contracts for excess power Ghana didn’t need, which meant the newly installed NPP Government was saddled with finding money to pay for debts bequeathed to it at a time the country was unable to pay for power generation.

In his first State of the Nation Address, President Akufo-Addo announced his Government would renegotiate a number of the agreements in order to free the government of mountain debts, an exercise which was carried out with the renegotiation of about 11 of the power deals.

Nonetheless, Ghana was still left with other debt commitments of the remaining agreements, which has, so far, cost the government over 12 billion Dollars.

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