The National Communications Authority (NCA) has sued the Electronic Communications Tribunal alleging possible bias in a case in which the Authority closed down some radio stations in the country.
Some stations closed down for supposedly breaching the country’s electronic communications regulations, including Radio XYZ and Radio Gold, went to the Tribunal to seek redress but the NCA feels uncomfortable with some decisions taken by the Tribunal.
The NCA in its suit filed at the High Court, want the Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Samuel Kofi Date-Bah, whose resignation will take effect on July 1, 2019, to be prevented from presiding over some cases before him.
The NCA shut down Radio Gold, Radio XZY, all in Accra, and some in other regions in the country in May 2019 for “operating without valid authorization,” a claim the affected stations had disputed.
After the closure, management of Radio Gold, Radio XYZ, as well as the other affected stations, appealed the decision at the Electronic Communications Tribunal.
According to the NCA, Radio XYZ subsequently filed a motion for stay of execution on May 24, 2019 “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.'”
“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.”
The NCA in its writ, said the case was adjourned to June 24, 2019, for hearing.
The NCA said it was dissatisfied with the Tribunal’s decision and thus appealed the case.
It also said, during a hearing on May 30, its attention was drawn to the resignation letter of the Chairman.
“…in the said [resignation] letter, the Chairman of the Tribunal raised matters that clearly depicts a strong likelihood of bias against the applicant, who is [a] party to the numerous FM Radio cases which are pending before him at the Tribunal.”
The NCA in its writ, however, called on Justice Kofi Date-Bah to either recuse himself from the pending cases ahead of his resignation or be stopped by the High Court.
“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,” NCA added in its writ.
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