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SSNIT Disowns A-G Over Gh˘4m Debt Payment   
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The Director of Legal Services of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Mr. Peter Hayibor, yesterday told the Sole Commission, investigating payments of judgment debts, that his outfit was not part of the payment schedule of the GH˘4 million arranged by the Attorney General to International Tobacco Ghana (ITG) in 2009.

Briefing the Commission, Mr. Hayibor indicated that SSNIT came into the picture when the then Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) issued a distress warrant and confiscated the properties of ITG on the basis of excise duties and tax evasion under the then Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) in 1989.

He told the Commission presided over by Justice Yaw Apau, an Appeal Court judge, that SSNIT expressed interest in the properties of (ITG), since it was on sale by CEPS, and subsequently bought the properties.

According to the Director, after purchasing the properties, SSNIT asked for indemnity against future liabilities, and it was then that SSNIT was informed that ITG had filed suits against them at the High Court.

Mr. Hayibor told the Commission that the court, however, ruled in favour of ITG, and declared that the confiscation of the movable and immovable properties by CEPS was unlawful, and subsequently, awarded cost in favor of the plaintiff in 2004.

He also confirmed that both SNNIT and CEPS were parties in the suit filed by ITG, but was not aware of the judgment debt settlement by the Attorney General (A-G) in 2009, adding that the case was still pending at the High Court, in which SSNIT is going back to court on June 13, 2013.

The said case was a result of the seizure of properties belonging to ITG under the PNDC era by CEPS, in which the trademark of the said company was sold to a rival company.

The matter had, in 1990, been taken to court, where judgment was pronounced in 2004, in favour of ITG.

The court had directed the A-G to ensure that all payments due ITG were done, including the return of seized properties by CEPS.

However, all the payments were made in 2009 by the then Attorney General without the knowledge of SSNIT AND CEPS.

The Sole Commissioner, therefore, was of the view that since the case was still pending at the court it would be prejudicial to go into it.

The Registrar General was summoned by the commission to brief them on what goes into the registration of trademarks, and whether the outfit had the right to seize trademarks.

The Principal State Attorney at the Registrar General’s Department, Mrs. Grace Issahaque, told the Commission that trademarks are intellectual property assets, and her outfit ensured that trademarks do not confuse the public.

Additionally, Mrs. Issahaque pointed out that before a trademark was registered, a search was conducted on the product to ensure its genuineness, and not imitate any other product registered.

According to her, trademarks and patents must be renewed every ten years, and one year respectively, however, if the owners default, it could be sold, further indicating that trademarks could not be seized.

According to the lead counsel for the Commission, Mr. Dometi Kofi Sokpor, this briefing on trademark would assist in the subsequent hearing.

The Commission, therefore, adjourned hearing to the June 10, 2013.
Source: Maame Agyeiwaa Agyei/The Chronicle

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