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General News Thu, 28 Feb 2002

Ruling On Tsatsu's Motion Today

The Supreme Court would rule on an application brought before it by Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), challenging the legality of the Fast Track Court (FTC).


The nine-member panel presided over by Mr Justice Edward Kwame Wiredu gave the date after listening to submissions from counsel on both sides at its sitting on Tuesday.


The other panellists are Mrs Justice Joyce Bamford Addo, Mr Justice A.B.K. Ampiah, Mr Justice F.Y. Kpegah and Mr Justice E.D.K. Adjabeng. The rest are Mr Justice George Acquah, Mr Justice Williams Atuguba, Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo and Mr Justice Kwame Adzoe.


In his submission, Mr Emmanuel Victor Oware Dankwa, counsel for Tsatsu, argued that the FTC was unknown in the Constitution. Counsel said in making provision for the administration of justice, the Constitution did not establish any court known as FTC.


Quoting portions of the 1992 Constitution to buttress his point, Mr Dankwa said justice emanated from the people and should be administered in the name of the Republic by the Judiciary, which shall be independent and subject only to the Constitution.

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Counsel further argued that under Article 126 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, the Judiciary shall consist of the Superior Courts of Judicature comprising the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Courts/Regional Tribunals.


Apart from these, counsel contended that there should also be such lower courts or tribunals as Parliament may by law establish, and that "nowhere is there provision for a FTC or has Parliament under Article 126 (I) (b) exercised its power to establish any FTC." Based on this argument, Mr Dankwa's said the FTC had no jurisdiction to try his client, and therefore prayed the Supreme Court to consider his application.


Replying, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, Attorney-General (A-G) and Minister of Justice stated that Section 69 of the Courts Act gave the Chief Justice the power to create courts and to determine the manner in which those courts should conduct their proceedings.


The FTC, he said, was no exception, since it was the CJ, who inaugurated it to facilitate the expeditious dispensation of justice as enshrined in the


Constitution.

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The A-G said since the FTC had been instituted with authorised officials by the CJ, there was no constitutional issue before the Court. Nana Akufo Addo, therefore, prayed the court to dismiss the motion, which, he said, was entirely without merit.


Earlier, counsel for Tsatsu had wanted the court to first hear an injunction restraining the "purported FTC" from proceeding with the trial of his client. After the Panel had drawn his attention to the fact that the substantive matter should take precedence over the injunction, counsel obliged.


On Monday, February 11, counsel for Tsatsu filed the motion seeking for constitutional interpretation of the existence of the FTC. When Tsatsu was arraigned at the FTC the following day, counsel drew the court's attention to his client's motion pending at the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the FTC.


After Mr Justice Julius Ansah, the trial judge, had entered a plea of not guilty for Tsatsu for wilfully causing financial loss of 2.15 billion cedis to the State, he admitted him to a self-recognisance bail of 500 million cedis.


Consequently, he adjourned proceedings for two weeks to enable the Supreme Court to first hear his motion. The Prosecution alleged that Tsatsu circumvented laid-down corporate objectives of GNPC, by-passed its Board and on his own committed the corporation to guarantee a loan of 5.5 million French francs.

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The loan was granted by the French Aid Agency called Caisse Francaise de Developpement and given to Valley Farm, a private cocoa-growing company in which GNPC held an initial 17.39 per cent equity shares.


The Prosecution said when Valley Farm became distressed and defaulted in payment Tsatsu without prior approval of the GNPC Board paid CFD the principal loan plus interest totalling 6,919,123.23 French francs out of the corporation's operational funds.


This act adversely affected the financial status of GNPC, hence a loss to the State, it said. In another development, an Accra Circuit Tribunal on Tuesday dismissed a case involving Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) for causing loss through carelessness to public property.


This followed a Nolle Prosequi filed by the Director for Public Prosecution (DPP), Mr Osafo Sampong on February 7 indicating that the case should be discontinued and the accused discharged.


Tsatsu has now been arraigned at an Accra Fast Track Court. The Nolle Prosequi reads: "Take notice that the state intends that proceeding against the accused person be discontinued."

When the case was called, the accused and his defence counsel as well as the prosecution were absent. The tribunal chaired by Mr Ziblim Imoru ruled that the case be dismissed "as the state has entered a no prosecution."

Source: GNA