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Opinions of Saturday, 24 September 2016

Columnist: Asamoah, Derek

Ben Nunoo Mensah's amazing gymnastics ... explain injunction; admits GOC congress was legal

It's not often that one publicly witnesses an individual struggle to explain the rationale for a court action that they support; especially legal action that they initiated on the basis of being an expert on matters at hand. But that is exactly what happened a week ago to the embattled former treasurer of Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) Ben Nunoo Mensah.

After months of a well-orchestrated media campaign designed to convince Ghanaians of shenanigans at GOC. Mr. Nunoo Mensah filed an injunction against a scheduled GOC congress proclaiming that it was illegal.

Most observers were intrigued because he used to on the GOC executive board before he resigned for "personal reasons". I honestly started to believe that his cause was just and noble.

Ben Nunoo Mensah was on a quest to save GOC from itself. He got a good number of national federation presidents to sign a letter urging GOC to hold elective congress urgently. Surely Mr Nunoo Mensah was doing the right thing; or was he?

For months, individuals associated with him had been posting all manner of well-written allegations against the GOC board on WhatsApp platforms. Mr Nunoo Mensah had me ready for a fight with GOC on Saturday 17 September 2016. He had finally cornered the GOC President, Prof Francis Dodoo.

He and Prof Dodoo were on the same radio program. Oh what stroke of good luck I thought. With ever rising sense of anticipation, I wait for Mr. Nunoo to pounce on Prof Dodoo and knock him out with all the evidence he had been talking about for months.

But alas, Mr. Nunoo Mensah ended up knocking out myself and others who had believed the content of his well-orchestrated media campaign.

So what happened? How did the alleged mountain of evidence against the current GOC executive board so quickly, in one weekend, vanish?

Long story short, on Adom Fm last week, Mr. Nunoo Mensah admitted freely that the GOC executive board had the constitutional right to call congress when it did so in July 2016; the same congress he had placed an injunction on.

I almost turned my radio off when I heard him admit that the congress called was legal. I had for weeks been bashing GOC for calling an illegal congress only to find out I had been misled.

The host of the programme, Benedict Mensah aka Moshosho, read the sections of the GOC constitution. Together, the sections indicate the GOC board had until 30th April, 2017 to hold an elective congress. He then asked Mr Nunoo Mensah a simple question. Are you aware of these clauses?

Mr. Nunoo Mensah responded in the affirmative by saying "I'm very very much aware about the provisions of the constitution,".

I will not bore readers with more detail than necessary but based on the discussions that took place between Moshoosho, Prof Dodoo and Ben Nunoo Mensah here is the core issue.

An excerpt at the heart of the injunction filed against GOC was a resolution approved by the general assembly extending the term of the current GOC board ".....until the General Assembly immediately after the next Olympiad in 2016" .

According to minutes from the 2013 GOC congress, the resolution was moved by the President of the Ghana Cycling Federation, Mohammed Sahnoon and seconded by Paul Atchoe from the Volleyball Federation.

It seemed for logical reasons, the GOC assembly had extended the term of the current executive board to ensure that the timing of future elective congresses will give this GOC board and subsequent boards, four full years to prepare for and also account for the Olympic year.

As far as Mr. Nunoo Mensah was concerned, the clause above meant GOC's next elective congress was supposed to happen immediately after last month's Olympic Games (Rio 2016). He holds this view even though he conceded that "2016" refers to the Olympic Games only and that the specific date for the next congress was not addressed in the resolution.

When Moshoosho read other portions of the GOC constitution that also have to be factored in when determining the date for the next elective congress Mr. Nunoo Mensah continued to struggle to explain his position.

For example, a clause in the GOC constitution defines the calendar year for auditing purposes as ending on December 31st which would be December 31, 2016 for the current year. Moshoosho echoing Prof Dodoo wondered what the basis would be for the board to call for an elective congress before auditing was complete for the all-important 2016 Olympic year.

Mr. Nunoo Mensah responded by referring to the "spirit" of a letter he had written and had gotten a number of federation presidents to sign calling for early congress.

Seriously? I thought to myself. Mr Nunoo Mensah had filed suit stopping a congress he now concedes was legal and the best he could do was to call on a "spirit"? The spirit of the letter he had engineered when taken in totality conflicts with provisions in the GOC constitution.

Moshoosho asked Mr. Nunoo Mensah which set of documents governed GOC; the Constitution or the "spirit" (letter) requesting for early congress. He responded "the Constitution" but then quickly went back to the "spirit" of his letter.

To make matters worse, he also admitted that the GOC board legally could hold two general assemblies in the same year. This means there was no need for an injunction.

The congress on which he placed an injunction could have been used to clarify all questions or doubts about the timing of the next elective congress.

The timing of congress and other matters he had raised and personally circulated in the press for many months were of a serious enough nature that only a GOC general assembly could resolve them in a binding manner.

Yet, he placed an injunction on the very congress meant to address his concerns including timing of the next elective congress.

Sport governance in Ghana is a thorny affair. Therefore, efforts to keep officials accountable are undermined when officials such as Mr. Nunoo Mensah misleads or omits other relevant facts when passing on information to journalists. He can challenge the GOC board on performance as he often does but he should not purposely misrepresent rules and regulations of the very institution he would like to be president. Derek Asamoah