Former MPs not entitled to pension – SC rules


Former Members of Parliament (MPs) are not entitled to receive pension, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled yesterday.

Former MPs, including legal practitioner, Nkrabeah Effah-Darteh, Mr David Apasera, former MP for Bolgatanga,Mr S.K Boafo, former MP for Subin, and Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo, sued the government in 2017 demanding GH₵233,495 each, being their accrued monthly pension. 

The MPs went to court based on the Chinnery-Hesse Committee report that recommended the payment of pensions to MPs, who were in MPs from 2005-2008.

They lost the case at the high court and subsequently filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal referred the case to the apex court since the grounds of appeal concerns a constitutional issue, which should be interpreted by the SC.

Ruling on the matter on Thursday, a seven-member panel of judges, presided by Justice Sule Nasiru Gbadegbe, held that the former MPs are entitled to only gratuities as stipulated in Article 114 of the 1992 constitution.

“By the combined reading of Article 71(3), 98(1) and Article 114 of the 1992 Constitution, the Chinnery-Hesse Committee acted unconstitutionally,” the court stated.

The basis of the legal action by the 40 former MPs was the Chinnery-Hesse Presidential Emoluments Committee (PEC), which provides that parliamentarians, who were 50 years and above and exited Parliament, having served two full terms, should be paid money as pension benefits.

Other members were Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Dr Kwame Ampofo, Mr Kwamina Bartels, Mr Freddie Blay, Mr Kenneth Dzirasah, Ms Christine Churcher and Mr Isaac E. Edumadze (deceased).

At the onset, the Accra High Court dismissed a suit filed by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) to join the MPs suit.The facts are that, the former MPs sued the Attorney General and the Ministry of Finance over pensions owed them.

The FWSC applied to join the suit claiming its presence in the matter will enable the court effectively determine the issues. 

But, Justice Gifty Dekyem, the presiding judge, said the Act establishing the Commission precluded it from dabbling in matters of Article 71 office holders, thereby dismissed the request.

The former MPs in their writ noted that, in a letter dated June 25, 2015, the Attorney General directed the Ministry of Finance to make the payments, but the Minister of Finance at the time refused, neglected or failed to make the payments as directed.

The former legislators also said the conduct of the Finance Minister caused them distress and suffering, as most of them were unemployed and unable to sustain their families.  

Mr Apesera had earlier told journalists that the Commission has wasted the time of the court, saying the amounts they were seeking were due them after years of service to the state.

“We are grateful to the court because we know that they are not supposed to be part of it. They are simply trying to flout the law that establishes them.We are happy that the judge has thrown them out”.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA


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