That President Akufo-Addo and his coterie of political hangers-on have become artful demonstrators of unexplained incompetence is an understatement. Perhaps, the single most important thing the President and his team have mastered and have been deeply enmeshed in is incompetence.
When vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia called his opponents incompetent, little did he know that he and his boss together with their supposed intelligent appointees are the defining ingredients of incompetence. Since NPP took over the leadership of the country, their countless faux pas have glaringly manifested in droves.
The latest of the “mother” of all gaffes the Akufo Addo government has so far unashamedly embarrassed the country with is the appointment of Stephen Ayensu Ntim as Board Chairman of Lands Commission under a repealed law. President Akufo Addo relied on Lands Commission Act, 1994 (Act 483) instead of Lands Commission Act, 2008 (Act 767).
It is trite law that when an Act is repealed by another Act, the repealing Act takes the place of the repealed Act. In that case the repealed Act ceases to operate and it is treated as though it never existed though the law provides that acts performed under it prior to its repealing are legal.
This position is succinctly captured in section 32 of the Interpretation Act, 2009 (Act 792) which provides that “where in an enactment it is declared that the whole or a part of any of other enactment is to cease to have effect, that other enactment shall be deemed to have been repealed to the extent to which it so declared to cease to have effect”.
The Black’s Law dictionary defines “repeal” as “abrogation of an existing law by legislative Act”. In simple terms, repeal means the replacement of an existing law with another law.
Question is, did Act 767 repeal/replace Act 483? The answer to this question is stated in section 43(1) of Act 767 which states “the Lands Commission Act, 1994 (Act 483) is repealed”. Act 767 came into force on December 4, 2008. This means that the new Lands Commission Act was enacted by the NPP government under the leadership of former President Kufuor.
It is also important to point out that at the time Act 767 was enacted, both President Akufo Addo and Chief of Staff Akosua Frema Osei Opare were Members of Parliament and took active part in the passage of the law. Indeed, most of President Akufo Addo’s appointees were either MPs or Ministers at the time the law was promulgated. They cannot hide under the fact that they were unaware that Act 767 repealed Act 483. Such an alibi will be the height of empty headedness in the history of the fourth Republic.
The basic maxim in law is that you cannot invoke authority from a non-existing law. In line with this, the purported appointment of Stephen Ntim pursuant to section 5 of Act 483 is not backed by law. For the uninitiated, Act 483 is no longer part of the laws of Ghana. Mr Ntim’s appointment is thus void.
It will be in the interest of Mr Ntim not to respond to the portion of the letter requiring him to accept or decline the appointment. The effect of the repealed law is that Mr Ntim has not been appointed. If he goes ahead to accept the appointment and he starts work as Chairman of the Board, he will be acting illegally and all his acts will be considered void. The consequence of such an action is dire, and as such he must not try it.
For President Akufo Addo and his men who ought to have known better, they should recall the letter and apologize to Ghanaians for bringing the name of the country into disrepute once again. If he insists on appointing Mr Ntim to that position, he should do so pursuant to section 8 of Act 767.
The President wanted to use the appointment as birthday package for Mr Ntim hence the Chief of Staff’s letter was signed on July 18 which incidentally was Mr Ntim’s birthday but unfortunately, the move has backfired. Better luck next time Mr Birthday Man.
By Amos Blessing Amorse