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General News of Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Source: thefinderonline.com

Ex-gratia: Lawyer storms Supreme Court

A private legal practitioner Elikplim L. Agbemava, has filed a suit at the Supreme Court seeking clarification on some of the benefits enjoyed by Article 71 office holders as well as other public servants in that category.

He also wants presidential staffers, who benefit from salaries, allowances, and privileges almost like an Article 71 office holders, to be stripped off such gratuities claiming it “is inconsistent with Article 71 and, therefore, unconstitutional.”

Among others reliefs, Lawyer Agbemava of Fidelity Law Group, wants to know why Article 71 office holders as well as Members of Parliament, are exempted from contributing to the Tier-1 basic national social security scheme operated and managed by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).

In the suit dated April 3, 2017, the lawyer contends that payment of ex-gratia and pensions is indefensible, excessive, unconscionable and inconsistent with the real spirit and intendment of the 1992 Constitution and therefore unconstitutional.

According to him, such act is “contrary to the National Pensions Act, 2008 as amended, and Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution” adding that because Members of Parliament (MPs) enjoy ex-gratia from the state, it does not encourage them to contribute to the social security scheme.

He argued that the enjoyment of retiring benefits or awards by Member of Parliament on the basis of a model that does not oblige Members of Parliament to contribute to any pension insurance scheme, during their years of service in Parliament before drawing on public funds for the payment of their pension is discriminatory against all other public sector workers employees in Ghana, unfair, unconscionable and contrary to Article 17 of the constitution and therefore unconstitutional.

He seeks a declaration that on a true and proper interpretation of Articles 17, 98 (1), and 71 of the 1992 Constitution, the approval by the President on the recommendation of the Committee set up under Article 71 of payment and receipt every four years by MPs who are still serving, continue or intend to continue in Parliament for more than one four-year term of gratuity in the form of ex-gratia and pensions is indefensible, excessive, unconscionable and inconsistent with the real spirit and intendment of the 1992 Constitution and, therefore, unconstitutional.

The lawyer in his reliefs is also seeking “a declaration that on true and proper interpretation of Articles 98(1), 95 (6), 44 (2) and (3), 155 (1), 68 (4), 194 (5), 187 (14), 199, 203 (3)(c), 208 (3) (c), 233 (1) and 71 of the 1992 Constitution, gratuity and pension is payable under the 1992 constitution after a full and final retirement of a public servant from public service and not intermittently while he/she is still in public service”.