Nine judges evicted to make way for national cathedral project

Nine judges evicted to make way for national cathedral project

President Nana Akufo-Addo has been petitioned to reconsider a plan to evict judges from their Ridge Roundabout residence in Accra, to make way for the construction of the 5,000-seater National Cathedral.

The Herald, had gathered that the area near Ridge roundabout and close to the passport office, which has bungalows housing some Appeal Court justices, would soon be demolished by the government to pave way for President Akufo-Addo to immortalize himself with the National Cathedral, as a president under whose reign Ghana celebrated its 60th independence anniversary.

This paper is in possession of a two-page letter signed by Supreme Court judge, Justice Julius Ansah, in his capacity as acting Chief Justice, which had been served on nine justices of the Court of Appeal to leave their state bungalows with immediate effect.

The letter dated August 10, 2018, said the judges are to move into temporary residential buildings pending the construction of some 21 new bungalows on the Second Circular Road – Cantonment in Accra. These will be completed and handed over by January 2020.

The affected judges are; Justice F. Kusi Appiah, Justice Mariama Owusu, Justice Avril Lovelace-Johnson, and Justice Magaret Welbourne.

The rest of the Court of Appeal Justices are; Justice Saeed Kwaku Gyan, Justice Lawrence L. Mensah, Justice Gbiel S. Suurbareh and Justice Anthony Oppong.

He had cut sod for construction in March 2017, only for the design and plan to be outdoored a year later, this year.

The project appears to lack priority, as there are several available spaces for both Christians and Muslims to worship, hence no need for a National Cathedral at a yet to be determined cost, as a result of the eviction of civil and public servants, as well as private citizens to the taxpayers.

Mention has been made for the AICC and National Theater for indoors religious events and the Independence Square for outdoor religious events such as the National Prayer sessions and Eid-ul-adha, which was observed by Muslims last week.

Interestingly, the AICC and National Theater, which have seen many national and public events, have not seen any major refurbishment.

Most of the seats are broken, others have worn out covers, while air-conditioners, have not been working properly, making ventilation poor. Their roofs have leaked onto discoloured carpets, which emit poignant smell.

The forecourt of the State House has also been the venue of many outdoor events in the country. The venue is currently rented out to private individuals for programmes including funerals.

Many are therefore at a loss why, the Akuo-Addo government, will demolish state bungalows, including the Scholarship Secretariat to construct National Cathedral.

Credible information picked by The Herald from the judicial service reveals that the appeals court justices will be put in rented houses in parts of Accra yet to be determined.

The development raises concerns about what our priorities are as a country.

Apart from the inconvenience of having judges leaving far from the courts, they will also be at the mercy of landlords, whose business interest may come before the justices.

The cost of rent for these judges, will also become a burden on the insufficient public purse. Already they have been fighting for an upward review of their salaries by the Akufo-Addo government, to no avail.

Additional information from the Judicial Service, is also that the officer-in-charge of estates at the Judicial Service has told them their letters of eviction, will be served on them soon.

The short notice is to avoid a public outcry, hence the letters will be served and bulldozers moved in immediately.

Meanwhile, Samson Anyenini, a legal practitioner on Saturday disclosed that many residents whose homes are situated on a vast stretch of prime land to be used for the cathedral, including nine judges, have been served quit orders to vacate the area immediately.

According to him, about ten six-bedroom bungalows that would be demolished if the government goes ahead with its plan, were buildt only five years ago by the Judicial Service to house Court of Appeal Judges.

“The Government has rented alternative expensive bungalow for the judges to relocate temporarily while it begins construction of over twenty new bungalows on a different land in replacement for what it is going to destroy to make way for the cathedral. Former Lands Minister, Peter Amewu, further assures those affected that lands will be found to reconstruct the institutions to be destroyed in this area,” Sampson said.

He adds that relocating the judges at rented bungalows could constitute interference with judicial independence and smacks of continuing disregard for the welfare of judges.

“Mr. President, please order a change in plan,” Samson pleaded.

President Akufo-Addo has since created an office at the Jubilee House, called the National Cathedral Secretariat with officials to ensure the cathedral is constructed.

Those running the National Cathedral Secretariat include Rev. Dr. Asante Antwi, as Chairman, Most Rev. Bishop Justice Offei Akrofi, former Anglican Archbishop of Accra and one Dr. Paul Opoku-Mensah.

Source: The Herald

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