An Accra High Court (Human Rights Division) has given the state seven days to file a statement of case in respect of a suit brought against the Minister for Regional Reintegration, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the Commission of Inquiry for the creation of new regions, by Togbi Patamia IV, chief of Srogboe in the Keta municipality of the Volta Region.
Lawyer for Togbi Patamia and some six other petitioners filed the application for judicial review of the meetings of the commission held in the Volta Region between January 15 and 20, 2018, which they have describe as discriminatory.
According to the plaintiffs, the commission concentrated its meetings only in the northern parts of the region, neglecting those in the south.
They are therefore praying the court to direct the commission to give those in the south an equal opportunity to make their inputs into the report of the commission.
When the case was called before Justice Gifty Agyei Addo yesterday, a principal state attorney, Jonathan Acquah, told the court that the state had filed an application in opposition to the application seeking the judicial review.
He was, however, reminded by the presiding judge that he had not filed a statement of case without which he could not file the affidavit in opposition.
“You know you have seven days to file the statement of case and when you did not meet that, you need to seek relief from the court to do so. You don’t just jump in and file,” the judge indicated.
Lawyer for the petitioners, Albert Quashigah, told the court that the state filed the affidavit in opposition way out of the stipulated time, adding that the time for them to file a statement of case had also elapsed.
The principal state attorney then prayed the court to give his outfit some time to file the statement of case, to which the court agreed and gave him seven days within which he could do so.
The case resumes on March 20, 2018.
Members of the Commission of Enquiry into the creation of new regions were in the Volta Region to listen to the ordinary people as to whether they indeed supported the creation of the Oti Region out of the Volta Region – but met chiefs and petitioners from the northern Volta at the Osu Castle.
The commission held public hearings at the Ho Technical University, Kete-Krachi Senior High School, Nkwanta South Municipal Assembly Hall, Kpassa Senior High Secondary Technical School Hall and the Nsuta-Buem Catholic Diocese Centre.
The apparent neglect of some (mostly southern) parts of the region has generated divided opinion among the Voltarians, both home and abroad.
Speaking to the media after the court proceeding, Mr. Quashigah noted that in the event that it was approved for a new region to be carved out of the Volta Region, all the residents of the region would be required to partake in the referendum.
He said it is therefore discriminatory for the commission to concentrate on its public hearing in the north, neglecting the south, “which will mean that the commission has prejudged the issue.”
“If those people in Volta South must vote, they must know the issues to which they are voting and they must have contributed to the process from its beginning,” Mr Quashigah added.
By Gibril Abdul Razak