Tsatsu Tsikata narrates his ordeal

Tsastsu Value Tsikata Tsatsu Tsikata

Sat, 3 Dec 2016 Source: GNA

Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), has said his imprisonment in 2008 was wrong and that “no one should have to go through what I went through.”

The statement read by Mr Tsikata is reproduced for the readership of the general public as follows:

Yesterday, November 30, the Court of Appeal gave judgment in respect of my appeal against the conviction and sentence of imprisonment on June 18, 2008.

The Court set aside the decision of Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban, Justice of Appeal, who sat as a Judge of the High Court over my trial.

The Court of Appeal acquitted and discharged me on all the four counts on which I had been charged – three counts of willfully causing financial loss to the State and one count of intentionally misapplying public property.

It is worth briefly recalling what happened to me on June 18, 2008, so as to put in context the decision that was handed down Thursday. I went to Court by 8 am on June 18, 2008.

The previous day, June 17, 2008, the Court had before it an application filed by my Counsel, Professor E.V.O Dankwa, to enable further evidence to be put before the Court of admissions that the then Attorney-General, Joe Ghartey, made in proceedings before the Supreme Court when an appeal in respect of the aspect of the case concerning whether or not the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of Ghana was being heard.

Before the date of June 17, 2008, was set for the hearing of this application, a date in July 2008 had been agreed by the Registrar but that July date was changed to June 17, 2008. My lawyer had written two letters to the Court in connection with the filing of the application to notify the Court officially that he had to travel outside the country for urgent reasons and would not be back until July and it was on that basis that the Registrar originally gave the July date.

On the new date that was given, June 17, 2008, I got to Court only to realise that the Court had already sat and adjourned the application to the next day, June 18, 2008 and specifically ordered that it would sit at 8 am on June 18, 2008.

Prior to that date the court had not sat on my case since February 2007 as the judge had specifically stated that she would await the decision of the Supreme Court as to whether IFC could be subpoenaed to testify in the case.

The Judge specifically indicated that if the Supreme Court were to decide in my favour, she would have to take the evidence from the IFC and she would wait for the decision of the Supreme Court “to avoid a mistrial or miscarriage of justice”, in her own words. The Supreme Court had set June 25, 2008 to give its decision.

I was in the High Court very early on June 18, 2008, since I had been notified by the Registrar that the court would sit at 8 am. My lawyer had, indeed, travelled outside the country and could not be there. I noticed to my surprise that on that day the Attorney-General, Joe Ghartey, was in court with his full team of, I believe, five lawyers. He had not been in court since he delivered his closing address in July 2006.

When the case was called at 8 am on June 18, 2008, I indicated to the Court that my lawyer had travelled and had written to notify the Court. The judge insisted that I proceed with the application myself in the absence of my lawyer. I indicated I could not do so especially as I did not even have the brief of the case with me that morning. She asked for the view of the Attorney-General on the situation and the Attorney-General said that if I would not move the application myself it should be struck out.

The judge dismissed the application filed by my lawyer to adduce further evidence. She then proceeded to state that she was going ahead with judgment in the case. I was amazed at this turn of events which was completely unexpected. No prior notice had been given about this. I reminded the judge of her earlier decision to wait for the decision of the Supreme Court on the matter of the IFC being subpoenaed to give evidence.

I indicated that the Supreme Court had fixed the following week for its decision. When I emphasised that the trial judge herself had previously decided to await the decision of the Supreme Court, the Judge said: “I rescind, I rescind my decision.” She, thereafter, proceeded to deliver her judgment.

Immediately after the judgment, I filed a Notice of Appeal with 16 grounds of Appeal before I was taken first to the Police Headquarters and then to Nsawam Prison. From prison, I filed an application for bail which the Judge heard and refused.

I appealed against her decision refusing me bail and on December 18, 2008, the Court of Appeal reversed her decision refusing me bail and referred the bail application back to the High Court. The application then went before another Judge in January 2009 and I was granted bail pending my appeal.

Initial proceedings in respect of my appeal took place in 2010 when my lawyer sought and obtained leave to file additional grounds of appeal. At that time also the Court of Appeal ordered the Registrar to have the record of proceedings to be reproduced with a bigger font size because what had been put before the court was a small font size.

It was in May this year that we were eventually notified that the Record of Proceedings had been re-done. Thereafter, in June we filed our combined grounds of appeal – adding the nine grounds of appeal that the court had granted leave to be added to the original sixteen grounds.

In its judgment yesterday – read by Justice Dennis Adjei, the Court of Appeal decided that the decision that the judge suddenly made on June 18, 2008, to rescind her earlier decision to await the Supreme Court decision on whether the IFC had immunity and to proceed to deliver judgment was an unconstitutional exercise of discretion.

Article 296 of the Constitution was quoted by the Court. The Court also decided that since the Supreme Court later also decided unanimously that the IFC does not have immunity from the jurisdiction of the courts of Ghana, there was an infringement of my constitutional right to a fair trial in the Judge not giving me the chance to call the IFC to testify.

The Court of Appeal decided that there was a miscarriage of justice in the decision of the Judge and quoted her own earlier indication that she wished to avoid a mistrial or miscarriage of justice.

I believe that the decision of the Court of Appeal yesterday, especially in upholding constitutional rights that are there for all of us is an important decision which must not just be seen in relation to me, Tsatsu Tsikata.

Upholding and enforcing the Constitution as the Court of Appeal did yesterday in setting aside the decision of Justice Henrietta Abban on June 18, 2008, is valuable for all of us. No one should have to go through what I went through that day and thereafter.

The Court of Appeal also gave due consideration to the pardon that was granted by former President Kufuor on his last day in office. The Court again relied on various provisions of the Constitution to show that the right of appeal is a constitutional right which cannot be taken away by an Executive act such as the exercise of the prerogative of mercy.

The Judiciary is the body in which final judicial power resides. My right of appeal therefore remained and the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal over the appeal was not taken away by the supposed pardon.

As I believe you all know, that pardon was rejected by me the very day it was announced and I wrote to the former President from my hospital bed at Korle Bu to that effect.

There was another aspect of the decision of the Court of Appeal yesterday which is worth mentioning. After the appeal I filed on June 18, 2008 the Attorney-General also filed an appeal to the effect that the five-year sentence imposed on me was not enough and asked for my sentence to be enhanced.

Even before dealing with other aspects of the case the Court of Appeal yesterday determined that this appeal in respect of the sentence by the Attorney –General, Joe Ghartey, had not complied with the rules governing the filing of appeals and was, therefore, incompetent.

The decision of the Court of Appeal yesterday brings to an end what started fifteen years ago when I was put before a so-called Fast Track Court on criminal charges. I challenged the constitutionality of that Court and of my being charged in the name of the President.

After the Supreme Court decided by a majority decision in my favour the President appointed a new Judge and a review application was made to the Supreme Court which now had two additional members added to the panel and the earlier decision of the Supreme Court was reversed. Thereafter, I was put again before another Fast Track Court after an earlier attempt to charge me before a normal High Court was also thrown out.

After all this I simply want to reiterate what I said in my interviews with the media yesterday. As the Good News translation of Psalm 94 verse 15 states “Justice will again be found in the courts and all righteous people will support it.” This is a verse that I have held on to for many years and yesterday, by God’s grace, justice was indeed delivered by the Court of Appeal. I thank God for this.

I am very grateful to my lawyers through all the years, Professor E.V.O Dankwa and the late Roland Agbenoto. Yesterday, as Professor Dankwa was out of the country, Mr. Edward Dankwa stood in for him and I am grateful for his services also.

I am also very grateful to all those people in and outside Ghana who have shown tremendous love and support through all these years. I am grateful for those who initiated and all who participated in the Free Tsatsu Campaign.

I am grateful to my wife and all of my family who have stood by me. My mother said yesterday she was “happy to see this day” and I am also grateful to God that she is still alive and will be reading the full text of the judgment delivered yesterday.

May I take the opportunity, with the permission of Stratcomm Africa, to invite all well wishers to join us at the Stratcomm Africa Praise Jam 10th anniversary which comes on at the Accra International Conference Centre on Saturday, December 3, 2016, so we offer praise to God for His goodness and mercy.

Thank you all, and God Bless.

Source: GNA
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