Former General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, has said the Council will not hesitate to acquire a land elsewhere for the construction of the controversial National Cathedral.
Rev. Opuni-Frimpong was part of the initial delegation of clergymen who met President Akufo-Addo to discuss the establishment of a national cathedral.
His comments follow the recent public outcry over government’s plans to evict judges of the Appeals Court from their current residence to make way for the construction.
Speaking to Citi News, Rev. Opuni-Frimpong said the Council might consider other options as far as the siting of the Cathedral is concerned.
“The President invited us. In fact, we have held several meetings and he shared his idea of having a national cathedral with us, something that the various heads of churches have all accepted. Now until last Saturday, when he raised that some Judges are occupying a particular place that the government is considering for the cathedral, we were not much aware. I got to know this for the first time. What we want to plead is that let us stretch our patience.”
“If what the President would want to consider has a challenge, I think we will need to look for somewhere else. Or if there are no legal challenges and the President can facilitate the acquisition of that land then we make sure all the necessary things are done.”
Media reports on Monday indicated that about 9 Judges of the Court of Appeal including many other residents within the earmarked area, were being evicted to enable construction works to begin.
It has also been reported that the demolition of structures within the area, and their subsequent reconstruction, will be a huge financial burden on the public purse.
A letter from the acting Chief Justice at the time, Justice Julius Ansah, apologized to the affected judges for not being given ample time to vacate the place
The letter, which has been sighted by Citi News, said the judges were not provided with “timely written notification to relocate.”
President Nana Akufo-Addo in 2017 cut the sod for the construction of a National Cathedral to serve as a national non-denominational Christian worship centre for the country.
But the relocation of the judges was only confirmed in writing on July 24, in a letter from the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry.
Justice Julius Ansah admitted that this was not proper.
“Although I admit that since the agreement in principle had been reached, it would have been proper to give you a hint at least.”
Judges to get permanent abode in 2020
In the long term, the government is constructing new residences for judges at Cantonments.
“The government has committed to construct 21 new bungalows on the second Circular road, Cantonments to replace the old ones affected by the project. Construction of the new bungalow is expected to be completed and handed over to the Service by January 2020.”
In the meantime, the judges have been provided with “temporary residential buildings.”
Financiers of the cathedral will pay the temporary accommodation for the judicial staff including judges residing along the area earmarked for the national cathedral project.
The affected judges are; Justice F. Kusi Appiah, Justice Mariama Owusu, Justice Avril Lovelace-Johnson, Justice Magaret Welbourne, Justice Saeed Kwaku Gyan, Justice Lawrence L. Mensah, Justice Gbiel S. Suurbareh and Justice Anthony Oppong.