May 24, 2024

The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has disagreed with the Accra High Court’s order for the office to return Cecilia Dapaah’s seized money.

Yesterday, an Accra High Court, instructed the OSP to return the money within seven days and rescind its August 9 decision to freeze her Dollar and Cedi accounts.

But in response to the Court’s order, the OSP in a statement, said it respects the directive, but disagrees with it because it is erroneous.

“While the OSP respects the Court’s decision, it disagrees with the decision of the Court. First, the OSP believes that the Court’s computation of the time limitation is, with respect, erroneous. The OSP searched three (3) private residences associated with Ms. Dapaah over the course of two (2) weeks. The searches and discovery were ongoing during that period. There is little doubt that the OSP filed its application within the statutory window once the search and discovery window is considered.”

The OSP, further clarified that its decision to freeze the former Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources’ accounts was not based on public sentiment as it is purported.

“The freezing order was not based on public sentiments. Rather, it was based on court processes filed in a criminal matter before the Circuit Court, Accra involving Ms. Dapaah as the complainant. Further, the freezing order was effected to aid the investigation, as required by law, not on the basis of the investigation, as indicated by the Court. Therefore, it cannot be said that the OSP did not carry out proper investigations to warrant the freezing order. The investigation has only commenced, and it is ongoing.”

The OSP is investigating Madam Dapaah for corruption and corruption-related offences following the revelation that she was keeping more than US$1 million in her house.

The High Court had dismissed the Special Prosecutor’s application seeking to continue freezing the bank accounts and assets of the ex-Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources’.

In a ruling yesterday, the Court presided over by Justice Edward Twum, held that the OSP breached the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 Act 959, when he filed the application out of time (after seven days suspicion).

Aside from that, it was the considered view of the court that the OSP was in doubt of the true ownership of the alleged tainted property found in Cecelia Dapaah’s house and hence failed to convince the court that the alleged tainted properties were used in connection with a crime.

“If he (OSP) is unsure as to ownership, how did he reach the conclusion that the property is tainted?,” the presiding judge queried.

“Ownership and possession are not the same,” Justice Twum added, saying the application was premature as the OSP, failed to establish the reasonableness of the suspicion.

It added that there was no justifiable basis for the OSP to exercise the power of seizure under Act 959.

The Court has, therefore, ordered the OSP to return the confiscated assets to the former Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources within seven days from today (Aug 31).

“The application is based on public sentiments and not based on any justifiable legal basis,” Justice Twum said.

 

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