June 25, 2024

Confusion appears to have engulfed the attempt being made by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to stop the High Court judge hearing the case it has brought against the former Minister for Water and Sanitation, Cecilia Abena Dapaah.

At the sitting of the court yesterday, the presiding judge, Justice Edward Twum, announced that the petition to bar him from hearing the case had been withdrawn, but later he retracted and told the court the petition sent to the CJ had not officially been withdrawn.

Justice Twum’s explanation came after he was notified by Dr. Isidore Tuffuor, a legal representative of the OSP, that the Office’s petition to the Chief Justice was still pending.

The statement from the judge and counsel for the OSP were based on an enquiry by Victoria Barth, counsel for the embattled former minister, on whether the Chief Justice has determined the petition filed against His Lordship to recuse himself from hearing the instant suit and all other matters filed by the OSP.

“We are not involved in that petition and can only presume that you are hearing us this morning because the petition has been dismissed as being without merit. If we could have some confirmation, out of the abundance of caution, before I make my further submission,” she inquired.

It was based on this enquiry that His Lordship Justice Twum indicated that, “I have been informed that the petition has been withdrawn.”

Ms. Barth then told the court: “My Lord, we have just found out that the applicant, after delaying the hearing of his own application by petitioning the Chief Justice that this court is prejudiced against the OSP and his person has withdrawn that petition.

“And since the prejudice has disappeared, [they] have willingly appeared before your court contrary to a public notice, informing the whole of Ghana and anybody who cared to read that they would not be appearing before this court because there is a well-founded belief that the court is prejudiced.”

The public notice was posted on the OSP social media handle on October 12, 2023, that the court had fixed the applicant’s motion for confirmation for hearing on the same day, but the hearing of the application was adjourned to October 18, 2023 which is the original return date of the applicant’s motion, filed as far back as September 11, 2023.

She said the petition, which unduly frustrated the hearing of the case on October 12, 2023 had been withdrawn and the court is being informed that a certiorari application filed to quash its ruling of October 11th that dealt purely with an application for abridgement and not the substantive application that was to be heard yesterday.

Madam Dapaah’s counsel contended that the OSP is on a mission or orchestrating a plan to cause a delay or flee from the hearing of its own application, which is causing injury to the respondent and infringing upon her economic right.

Ms. Barth also prayed the court to take judicial notice of a press release on October 16, 2023 based on Section 9 of the Evidence Act, by which she read out the content of the release.

She also condemned the OSP for misleading the public and yet does not consider it prudent to act with speed in filing the various applications for certiorari and stay of proceedings, which he knew would further delay the hearing of his application, while he continues to hold on to the bank accounts and financial assets that he has ever seized or frozen, since the inception of his investigations.

”He filed a certiorari application as late as 17th October, 2023 after doing his media gimmick and then followed it with an application to the same judge who he accused of prejudice to now stay proceedings, so that no matter the outcome of today’s proceedings, the public would be prejudiced if your Lordship decides to hear us, pursuant to a prayer by the respondent, for you to again abridge the hearing of their stay of proceedings application also filed on 17th October, 2023,” she said.

She, therefore, urged the court to either proceed or stand the matter down, to let the applicant furnish the respondent and the court with the stay of proceedings, so that they can make their prayer for an abridged hearing of the stay of application.

In response, Dr. Tuffuor said the applicant takes exception to numerous comments and assumptions that have been pushed before the court by the respondent, to clearly attack the person of the Special Prosecutor and also the integrity of the applicant.

He added that the application for certiorari is grounded on certain aspects of October 11th ruling, specifically in respect of the supplementary affidavit, which the applicant intends to rely on in the hearing of their substantive case.

Dr. Tuffuor further stated that the allegation that the applicant delayed in filing processes was borne out of no fact, when in two days they had filed two applications.

He also informed the court that the Office has not officially withdrawn the petition, before approaching the bench and also seeking audience with the judge in his chambers, while the case was stood down.


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