Source: Daily Graphic Ghana - The Human Rights Division of the High Court will, on Friday, July 31, 2015, decide whether or not to entertain a suit challenging the government’s engagement of West Blue Ghana Limited for the implementation of the Single Window and Risk Management System project at the country’s ports.
A Tema-based clearing agent, Mr Michael Kweku Djan, is praying the court to place an injunction on the Minister of Trade and Industry, the Minister of Finance, the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and their agents from solely engaging West Blue in the National Single Window project until the final determination of a suit challenging the engagement of the company.
With the establishment of the National Single Window, all shipment activities and transit-related businesses will be integrated to achieve efficiency and enable the government to generate more revenue at the ports.
The dispute stems from a letter purported to have been written by the Chief of Staff directing the Minister of Finance to engage only West Blue to implement the National Single Window project.
According to the applicant, the move by the government to do sole sourcing was unfair, unjust and unreasonable because that had blocked him and other agents from having equal opportunity to apply.
But a motion for an order striking out Mr Djan’s application was filed by the Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Dr Dominic Akuritinga Ayine, on the grounds that the applicant had failed to demonstrate how his rights had been abused.
Counsel for the applicant, Mr Francis Paa Kwasi Abaidoo, advanced oral arguments against the state’s application in Accra yesterday.
One of the grounds of the A-G’s motion was that Mr Djan had wrongly invoked the exclusive jurisdiction of the court to enforce human rights under Article 33 of the 1992 Constitution “because, on the totality of evidence filed by the applicant, there was no showing that there had been, or was likely to be, a contravention of any provision of the Constitution on fundamental rights and freedoms in relation to the applicant”.
The A-G’s office is arguing that the exclusive human rights jurisdiction of the court could be triggered only when the allegation of breach or possible breach of a right specified under the Constitution is supported by evidence.
“This honourable court cannot entertain vacuous claims of so-called human rights violation such as that of the applicant,” it said.
According to the A-G, the burden of producing evidence in support of a claim of contravention of a right lies on the applicant; otherwise, the court may be faced with a situation where an applicant merely makes the allegation of breach and leaves it to the court to look into whether the allegation is well founded.
Another issue being raised by the A-G is that the suit, taken as a whole, discloses no reasonable cause of action and must, therefore, be dismissed.
Opposing the state’s application, Mr Abaidoo argued that the respondents did not give his client equal opportunity to bid for the contract and had thus violated his client’s economic right.
He said the government also failed to ascribe the reason for the award of the contract to West Blue.
According to him, the criteria for selecting West Blue were not made known and for that reason the process was discriminatory.
The court was presided over by Mr Justice Anthony Yeboah.
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