A seven member panel of Supreme Court presided over by Justice Sophia Adinyira , today heard submissions of the State and Plaintiff, James Kwabena Bomfeh, a member of Convention People’s Party (CPP), aka Kabila. The submissions were given by Godfred Odame, Deputy Attorney General and Counsel for the Plaintiff, Dr. Aziz Bamba. The matter relates to Government’s contribution to the construction of the National Cathedral and by extension, the state’s interference in the Pilgrimage of Muslims to Hajj every year.
According to the Counsel for the Plaintiff, Dr. Bamba, it is not the business of the Government to build a place of worship for any religion. Per his submissions, the State must remain religiously neutral and treat all religions equally. The government must extend same hand to all the religions of Ghana or do nothing at all. The incidents of a secular state, according to counsel includes: the republic cannot endorse or give preference to any religion; and state must treat all religions equally.
Again, it was contended that, the mandate of the President as the trustee of all lands in Ghana does not mean he can allocate the land.
The submission of Counsel for the Plaintiff was therefore that the Government’s involvement in Hajj and the building of the National Cathedral is State’s entanglement with religion and therefore unconstitutional particularly when other religions have not enjoyed same.
Later in his submission, Dr. Bamba, made the Court took judicial notice in the fact that the government in its budget to Parliament said that there would be seed money for the construction of the cathedral.
Godfred Odame, also contended that secularism does not mean absence of religion and is encapsulated under Article 21(1) (c) of the 1992 Constitution. He reiterated that, ‘If 21(1) (c) has not been infringed, there has not been any unconstitutional act committed’.
He further stated that insofar as people have not been restricted in their practice of religion, there is no act against secularism. Counsel contended that the interpretation and enforcement does not arise because the constitutional provisions used by the Counsel for the Plaintiff are clear and there are no conflicting views by both counsels as to their meaning. The court should therefore dismiss the action.