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Supreme Court says the Ghanaian government can no longer sack CEOs

The Supreme Court of Ghana has declared that the removal of heads of public corporations as a result of a change of government is unconstitutional.

Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo

This follows an initiation by a legal practitioner, Mr Theophilus Donkor, who invoked the original jurisdiction of the court to interpret the 1992 Constitution on January 4, 2017.

In a unanimous decision, a seven-member panel of the court, presided over by the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo held that per Article 190 Clause 1(b) of the 1992 Constitution, public corporations were part of the Public Services of Ghana and, therefore, such persons were public service officers whose appointments were protected by the Constitution.

According to the court, the appointment of such public service officers were governed by Article 195 of the Constitution.

The removal of such public service officers, the court held, must, therefore, be done in accordance with the terms and conditions of their contract of an engagement or it must be justified, as stipulated in Article 191 of the Constitution.

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The Constitution gives the President of the Republic the power to appoint public service officers, but with the advice of the governing board of the specific corporation, “given in consultation with the Public Services Commission”.

Article 191 (b) states: “A member of the public service shall not be dismissed or removed from office or reduced in rank or otherwise punished without a just cause.”

Import of the decision

By this decision, the Supreme Court has repealed the section of the Presidential (Transition) Act 2012 (Act 845) which terminated the appointments of the chief executives or director-generals of public corporations, statutory boards and authorities upon the assumption of office of a new President.

“To the extent that Section 14 of the Presidential (Transition) Act 2012 (Act 845) requires the chief executives or director-general (however described) of public boards or corporations to cease to hold office upon the assumption of office by a person elected as President of the Republic of Ghana, the same is hereby declared to be unconstitutional and void for being in contravention of articles 190 and 191 of the Constitution,” the court held.

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The unanimous decision of the court was read by Justice Professor Nii Ashie Kotey, while the other members on the panel were Justices Jones Dotse, Sule Gbadegbe, Anthony A. Benin, Samuel K. Marful-Sau and Nene Amegatcher.

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