General News of Friday, 22 March 2013
Source: Daily Guide
Retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Francis Kpegah, has fired back at his critics who have raised issues with his continuous stay in a government property several years after retirement.
This followed calls for him to vacate the five-bedroom bungalow located at number 15, 5th Avenue, Edward Nasser, Ridge in Accra.
A splinter group in the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Young Patriots, yesterday issued a statement in which they expressed disgust at what they described as “the abuse and deliberate running down of state bungalow” by Justice Kpegah.
This, according to Hopeson Adorye, Richard Nyamah and Fred Amankwah who signed the release was because “ever since his resignation from the Judicial Service as a Supreme Court judge on the 4th of December 2008, which required that the he vacates his property, Justice Kpegah has been living on the largess of the state, for the last 6½ years.”
In an interview with DAILY GUIDE however, the retired judge said, “I am entitled to live in the place for life and I intend living there until I die unless the government pays me.”
Simply put, he said “I am not going to leave.”
This, according to him, was because he was by law entitled to the facilities he was currently enjoying since those are conditions of service of Article 71 for office holders.
“My condition of service specifies that I am entitled to a free accommodation from government if government finds accommodation for me. But if there is no accommodation for a serving judge, he is entitled to 20% of his gross annual salary for a month to pay his rent wherever he will secure it and this condition is for life,” he said while asking rhetorically, “Am I dead?”
In view of this, he said “they should send me to court and collect the rent on behalf of the government” and asked rhetorically, “Are they rent collectors for the government?”
He declined an invitation to comment on criticisms that has come his way over the suit he has brought against the Presidential Candidate of the NPP in the 2012 general elections in which he has questioned his status as a lawyer.
But the Young Patriots have placed a value of $324,000 (GHS618,840) for the 6½ years that the man has lived in the property since retiring, with water bill estimated at GHS23,000 and electricity bill totalling GH¢48,000 accrued over the period.
“Justice Kpegah owes a total of GH¢689,840.00 on rent and utility bills on the five-bedroom state bungalow” which according to them, “has been rundown so badly that it even houses poultry and pigs.”
Apart from that, the group claimed “we can confirm that a Tata 4×4 vehicle he acquired, through hire purchase, has still not been fully paid for” while “a Peugeot 607 vehicle allocated to him by the Judicial Service when he was a Supreme Court Judge, also to be paid for through hire purchase, has not been paid for.”
In view of this, the Young Patriots said “all we are asking Justice Kpegah for now is to pay what he owes the state and move into his own building, which we understand he doesn’t have.”