Court orders government to release Smarttys bus branding contract documents

Court orders government to release Smarttys bus branding contract documents

A Human Rights court has ordered the government to "unconditionally' make the contract documents relating to the GHc3.6 million Smartty's bus branding contract public.

Court orders government to release Smarttys bus branding contract documents

Nana Awasi Awauh one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs celebrates the court's ruling

Seven plaintiffs plaintiffs, including Lolán Ekow, Francis Kennedy Ocloo, Kathleen Addy, Kwame Barkers Ansah, and Michael Annor, sued the Attorney-General, praying the court to compel the government to provide the public with details of the the contract that was awarded to Smarttys for the bus branding.

They also sought documentation of the  procurement procedures used to select the vendor, among other demands.

Presiding over the case on Wednesday, Justice Anthony Yeboah said Ghanaians deserved to know the details of the contract government entered into with Smarttys.

He said the failure of the government to pass the Right to Information Bill into law ought not to in any way prevent citizens from obtaining public information.

"No one benefits from his own wrong, the State ought not to be allowed to benefit from the failure to pass a Freedom of Information Act by using the non existence of such an Act as a ground for refusing to disclose the requested information. Systemic failures or difficulties cannot justify breaches of fundamental human rights or dereliction of human rights obligations."

He added a caveat, however, that information bordering on national security could not be accessed and that if the information to be accessed involved cost, it had to be borne by the person seeking such information.

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Lawyers for Citizen Ghana Movement, which prosecuted the case in court, said the ruling was as a major victory for the right to information in the country.

Kofi Bentil described  the ruling as "a very erudite far reaching judgment" which establishes "legal rules and principles that effectively constitute the Right to Information law".

His co-counsel, Nana Akwasi Awuah, pointed out that history had been made.

Court orders government to release Smarttys bus branding contract documents

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Last year, investigations into the branding of 116 Metro Mass Transit Buses involving GH¢3.6million revealed that Smarttys over-billed the government to the tune of about GH¢1.9million.

The development provoked a public outcry which prompted the Minister of Transport,  Dzifa Attivor, to resign in December.

The government subsequently reached an agreement with Smarttys for the company to return GH¢1,548,608.04 to government chest, which the company finished paying last week.

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