The suit filed at the Supreme Court by two National Democratic Congress Members of Parliament against the appointment of Otiko Djaba as Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection will go a long way to settle the debate about whether the failure to carry out national service should bar one from serving in public office, Kofi Bentil, Vice President of IMANI Ghana, has said.
The two MPs, Ernest Norgbey and Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, MPs for Ashaiman and Juaboso constituencies respectively, argue in their reliefs that Ms Djaba cannot become a Minister because she failed to do her national service.
They are praying the court to declare that “upon a true and proper interpretation of the provisions of the constitution, particularly Article 94 (2)(g) of the constitution”, allowing Ms Djaba to continue as Minister “is in contempt of section (7) of the Ghana National Service Act, Act 426”.
They also want the court to declare that Ms Djaba is disqualified from being nominated, approved, and appointed as Minister of State due to her failure to do her national service because her appointment “constitutes employment in the Public Service”.
The plaintiffs also want a declaration that the swearing in of Ms Djaba (second defendant) is null and void and has no effect whatsoever.
“We also want an order directed at the second defendant restraining her from acting or purporting to act as Minister of State until such a time she completes her national service or duly granted an exemption in accordance with the National Service Act,” the writ said.
Speaking in an interview with Emefa Apawu on Class 91.3FM’s 505 on Thursday February 9, Mr Bentil said: “The pronouncements of the court will put a number of issues to rest. As we speak there are some people who think it (national service) should not be a bar and there are some people who think since the law says it is a bar then it should be a bar. I, therefore, think that the court case is necessary just for clarifying this matter for all of us.
“There is also another argument going on about whether we even need this kind of law at all. In other words whether we need the national service to be compulsory at all. It is a very useful debate but I think what these MPs are trying to do is to say even if we don’t need national service or even that argument wins can we say the state of the law as it is today allows Madam Otiko to be a minister or not.
“So I think that this whole case is about clarifying what really the law means today before we make any changes in the future. Whichever way you look at it, I think it is a good exercise. I, however, doubt if that it is going to lead to the removal of Madam Otiko.”