The National Communications Authority (NCA) has sued the Electronic Communications Tribunal for what it describes as ‘potential bias’ against the authority by the chairman of the Tribunal Justice, Samuel Kofi Date-Bah.
In a writ filed at an Accra High Court, the NCA wants the court to bar the chairman of the tribunal, whose resignation takes effect from July 1 this year, from adjudicating on matters involving it that are before the tribunal.
The NCA argues that certain pronouncements by the chairman in his resignation letter give them reason to believe that he will not be fair in handling matters concerning the authority.
The NCA is also challenging the decision of the tribunal to set a date for the hearing of an application to ‘stay’ its closure of certain radio stations in the country although there is nothing to ‘stay’.
The NCA, this year, shut down a number of private radio stations including Radio XYZ and Radio Gold for operating illegally.
The stations subsequently filed an application before the tribunal seeking the stay of execution with regard to the closure.
The NCA, however, contends that there is no execution to be stayed “when as a matter of fact, there was no pending execution, and thus there was nothing left to be stayed by the tribunal.”
“That on 30th May, when the application of stay of execution pending appeal was heard, it was manifest to the tribunal through the various exchanges between the tribunal and counsel for Radio XYZ that as a matter of fact, the radio stations had already been closed down on 9th of May 2019, and therefore there was nothing left to be stayed. That based on the leading nature of the said exchanges…Counsel for Radio XYZ suggested to the tribunal that he ‘would take a cue from the tribunal and file an application for suspension of the order that closed down the radio station.’”
The NCA is also challenging the decision of the tribunal to fix a date for the motion by the affected radio stations which have not been filed yet.
“That without any application before the tribunal for such suspension of the closing down of the radio station, the tribunal granted liberty for Radio XYZ Ltd to apply for a suspension of the impugned decision of the applicant, pending the hearing of the appeal. That notwithstanding, the absence of any pending application before the tribunal for suspension of the order closing down the radio station, the tribunal still went ahead to set timelines for the yet-to-be filed motion,” it said.
Based on this and some other reasons, the NCA believes that the current chairman of the tribunal will not be fair to them.
“That the contents of the letter of resignation of the tribunal chairman raises a strong likelihood of bias in the cases pending before the tribunal against the applicant (NCA) and therefore prays the court to prohibit him from continuing to hear any of the cases involving NCA at the tribunal,” the NCA writ added.