The Accra High Court Presided over by Justice Ananda Aikins will today, Monday, 2nd March, 2020, begin hearing in the Erasmus Kwaw vs. the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) labour case over alleged unlawful termination of appointment.
The 4-day trial is expected to end on Thursday 5th March, 2020, according to the court. It would be recalled that at its last sitting on 2nd December, 2019, Justice Ananda Aikins fixed trial for 2nd March. This came after she had failed to fix a date for the hearing on 23rd October, 2019 due to her schedule.
The plaintiff, Erasmus Kwaw, who is a sports journalist, claims his former employers “deliberately severed his appointment abruptly on 24th August, 2017 in order to enable them perpetrate an illegality in the media accreditation process for the 2018 Commonwealth Games which subsequently resulted in the infamous deportation of some 60 fake Ghanaians journalists from Australia.”
The Plaintiff was Press Attaché for Ghana’s teams to the Olympic Games in 2012 and 2016, the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2014 African Youth Games during which time no Visa racketeering scandals were recorded. But in his witness statement, the GOC President Ben Nunoo Mensah denied the claim saying, the GOC was not directly involved in the media accreditation process for the Games.
The GOC has also submitted witness statements from three Ghanaian journalists, Alex Anyankwaa of Kasapa FM, Michael Okuley of GBC and Paul Napoleon Agyeman of Top FM, in an attempt to back up its defence. There are further witness statements from the GOC President Ben Nunoo Mensah, GOC Treasurer Frederick Otu Lartey and GOC Board member Nana Mankata. Meanwhile, the plaintiff further claims the GOC admitted in its “Emergency Executive Board Meeting” minutes dated 23rd April, 2018 at paragraph 4(1) “that the GOC cannot deny knowledge of the media accreditation since their own media personnel were involved and validated the process.”
It has been almost two years since the plaintiff filed a case of unlawful termination of employment against the Olympic governing body at the high court on 26th January, 2018.
The Plaintiff avers that on or about 17th March, 2017 while in the Defendant’s office working, the President of the GOC, Ben Nunoo Mensah in the company of some unknown men barged into his office and verbally assaulted him. He adds, that in an attempt to coerce him to leave his employment, the said Ben Nunoo Mensah on or about 28th July, 2017 instructed one Nana Mankata to collect the keys to his office and to change his door locks and left him without an office.
The Plaintiff said he subsequently received a letter dated 24th August, 2017 and signed by the GOC President terminating his appointment with the Defendant effective 30th August, 2017. He indicated that all attempts to hand over the one laptop belonging to the Defendant and to collect his entitlement from the Defendant did not yield any result.
But the GOC’s statement of defence states the Plaintiff’s appointment was terminated because the current administrative restructuring in line with the new organizational chart of the Ghana Olympic Committee did not make allowance for the engagement of two Project Officers.
Meanwhile, the Plaintiff has told the court he would use evidence contained in the damning report of the disciplinary sub-committee of the GOC into the 2018 Australian Commonwealth Games visa scandal. Chaired by a Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Amadu Tanko, the report stated that the GOC President Mr. Ben Nunoo Mensah attempted to influence the work of the committee through acts of intimidation, threats and fabrication of evidence.
It will be recalled that media reports while the Games were going on in Gold Coast 2018 flagged up that more than 60 Ghanaians had either been stranded, detained or deported from Australia by immigration authorities of Australia and transit countries like Singapore on suspicion of visa fraud. The Ghanaians carried visas as journalists issued by various media organisations in Ghana and claimed they were due to cover their country’s team at Gold Coast 2018.
But Australian immigration were not convinced about their reasons for travelling because the travelers did not carry the recommended equipment as journalist for coverage of such a sporting event. Significantly, in the Justice Amadu Tanko report, the GOC admitted issuing introductory letters to some media houses, outside the games’ media accreditation application system, to assist them secure visas from the Australian High Commission in Ghana to cover the Games.