By Maxwell Nkansah
The Attorney General of Ghana, Mr. Godfred Yeboah Dame, says Parliament cannot direct the General Legal Council on its admission processes by resolution.
Parliament last week unanimously voted, directing the General Legal Counsel to immediately admit the 499 students who passed but have been denied admission to the Ghana School of Law. Parliament further directed the Attorney General to ensure that this resolution of Parliament is respected.
But in a letter addressed to the Speaker of Parliament, Godfred Yeboah Dame argued that Parliament cannot use a resolution to make such directions.
According to him, whilst recognizing the general legislative powers of Parliament in Ghana, except as has been circumscribed by the Constitution, I am constrained to advise that Parliament is devoid of power through the use of Parliamentary resolutions, to control the process of admission into the Ghana School of Law.
The mode of exercising legislative power enshrined in article 106 of the Constitution does not admit of resolutions. The Attorney General continued that it is instead the Executive who can lawfully make such directions to him. And noted that the President was already taking some actions on the matter.
He further stated that it is correct that section 1(5) of Act 32 stipulates thus: “The Council shall in the performance of their functions comply with any general directions given by the Minister”.
Mr. Godfred Yeboah Dame, said, in his respectful opinion, this provision underscores the capacity of the Executive, not the Legislature, through the Minister responsible for the General Legal Council, i.e. the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, to direct and advise the Council on major matters of national importance.
In this regard, it is pertinent to indicate that by a letter dated October 18, 2021, received at my office on 21st October 2021, His Excellency the President forwarded the contents of a petition by the “499 candidates” to me for my comments to enable him to respond. Another petition dated October 20, 2021, by the National Association of Law Students was also delivered to the President.
“Upon delivery of my comments on the matters raised in both petitions and following further consultations with my good self, by a letter dated October 26, 2021 (three clear days before the resolution of Parliament), received at my office on October 27, 2021, the President directed me to, under section 1(5) of Act 32,… make the necessary intervention to the General Legal Council, on behalf of the 499 students, to address the issue”, the statement continued.
Meanwhile, First Deputy Speaker Joe Osei Wusu has clarified his ruling to the GLC.
According to Joe Osei Wusu, if Parliament – the institution that created the General Legal Council – cannot direct it to respect a resolution, then the Attorney General would have to appear before the House to explain why.
“If Parliament, the representative of the people, I mean the arm of the government of the institution that created the agency that is gilded with all the powers cannot ask them to follow the rules they make, please the attorney general is answerable to parliament.
The agency may not come to us directly, but the attorney general is answerable to parliament and he may be called to parliament to explain why the resolution cannot be respected, he said.
Attached is the Attorney General’s response to Parliament