Akufo-Addo to sue Justice Kpegah for defamation?

Sun, 21 Apr 2013 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

(Part I)

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Reading the news report that Akufo-Addo “may sue” Justice Kpegah for defamation (see http://edition.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/201304/104760.php) has made me wonder whether such a threat will ever materialize.

If it does, it will definitely be an interesting reversal of fate. In suing Akufo-Addo for impersonation, Justice Kpegah has asked for certain reliefs aimed at reducing Akufo-Addo to rubble. So clearly forewarned—and mindful of the implications—Akufo-Addo has forearmed himself.

I am compelled to come out with this opinion piece because of the news report that Myjoyonline published to suggest that the General Legal Council had authenticated Akufo-Addo’s claim with “a certified true copy of extract from Roll Books.”

Myjoyonline did a shoddy job on this matter, which I want to tackle and lay bare the aspects that its reporter failed to analyze to set the records right. If that reporter didn’t have access to the documents filed by Akufo-Addo’s lawyer as “supplementary affidavits,” I do.

And my analysis will reveal the intricacies to prove that the General Legal Council’s so-called “certified true copy of extract from Roll Books” is nothing but an appropriation of a handwritten document issuing forth from the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple. The General Legal Council didn’t give Akufo-Addo its own bona fide “certified true copy of extract from Roll Books” because it didn’t have any to give him!!

In other words, one would have expected the General Legal Council to extract the relevant part where Akufo-Addo signed the Roll Book. It is not available. What we have is a number of signatures on the handwritten document from the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple. Is that normal?

Why didn’t the extract come from the General Legal Council’s Roll Book? Does it have a Roll Book to record its dealings with those it calls to the bar? Where is it? Where is Akufo-Addo's record of enrolment in it? That is where a “certified true copy” should have come from.

As we inch toward the day of reckoning (April 23), we seem to be itching to know who will wield the clout. Will it be the Akufo-Addo that his admirers has touted as a “legal luminary” or the retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Francis Yaonansu Kpegah, the 77-year-old former Acting Chief Justice who is daring enough to give Akufo-Addo a legal hemlock to end his accomplished legal life? It’s no flyspeck!

Justice Kpegah has roared loud enough to silence those Akufo-Addo followers bad-mouthing him. Now that he says he will have his day in court and give Ghanaians a repeat dose of the “Thriller in Manila,” there seems to be every indication that some drama will unfold if the case is tried to the full.

To cover his tracks properly, Akufo-Addo has filed a supplementary affidavit, introducing new documents and insisting that the case be dismissed because it is vexatious, frivolous, and borne out by Justice Kpegah’s mischief to tarnish his image locally and internationally.

We must take the trouble to examine some of the documents that Akufo-Addo has filed because of their peculiarities. We will note that these new documents have either supplanted earlier ones filed as exhibits or reinforced their import.

For our purposes, we will pick on the “certified copy of extract” from the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple as the blueprint. It is the one on which everything revolves. It is where the Judicial Secretary (name not given), the Chairman of the General Legal Council (given by Akufo-Addo’s lawyer as the late Justice Samuel Azu Crabbe), and William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo appended signatures to indicate it as the “certified copy of extract from the Roll Books” dated July 8, 1975.

Without this document, there would be no “certified copy of extract from the Roll Books” because, contrary to expectation, the General Legal Council itself didn’t have any original entry in its own stationery, bearing its insignia to give Akufo-Addo. We wonder why!

Of course, the records show that a William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was enrolled at the Middle Temple on January 13, 1969, called to the Utter Bar on July 22, 1971. But thorny issues have cropped up for us to interrogate, especially on the basis of the “certified copy of extract from the Roll Books” filed by Akufo-Addo and his lawyer, Godfred Yeboah Dame.

Discrepancy in Dates in the Certified True Copy from Middle Temple

We found something peculiarly intriguing about the use of dates in the certified copy of the extract from the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple (signed by J.B. Morrison, Under Treasurer). Under Treasurer Morrison said in a part of the extract that Akufo-Addo was called to the Utter Bar on “the twenty-second day of July one thousand nine hundred and seventy-one and published in the common Dining Hall of the said Society on the same day.”

Then, in the next paragraph, he said that “In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my Hand and the seal of the said Society this third day of March in the twenty-third year of the Reign of Our Gracious Sovereign Lady, Elizabeth the Second (…) and in the Year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and seventy-five.”

My good friends, we have here a discrepancy, which raises red flags!! While one part of this extract says that Akufo-Addo was called to the Utter Bar on July 22, 1971, the place concerning the “hand and seal of the said Society” that comes in the next paragraph mentions March 3, 1975 as the date on which J.B. Morrison applied “the seal and his hand” to the document.

The appearance of this date (March 3, 1975) in this “certified copy of extract” raises very serious questions. This is the first time that I have come across such a date in the documents presented by Akufo-Addo as issued to him by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.

What had Akufo-Addo to do with the Middle Temple in 1975 for this date to be cited in official records for him if he had officially graduated and been called to the Utter Bar three clear years earlier? If his own claim is to be believed, after being called to the Utter Bar on July 22, 1971, he left for Paris, France, meaning that there was no way he could have been in any capacity recognized any more by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple as someone under tutelage on that date (March 3, 1975).

Something is not adding up well here at all. I am not being mischievous here, dear reader. The document is in my custody and what it says clearly at this point in this very extract is what I have quoted and commented on.

When we turn to the typescripted version of the information in this extract, the date given for his being called to the Utter Bar is correctly stated as July 22, 1971. An additional date is stated as October 22, 2007, indicating the date on which the typescripted document was given him to support the NOTE from E. Bart-Plange Brew (Acting Administrative Secretary of the General Legal Council), dated Tuesday, October 16, 2007).

Bart-Plange Brew’s NOTE has now been supplanted by the letter from Bernard Bentil, which bears a new date (July 8, 1971), apparently to reflect what was being projected as “a certified true copy of extract from Roll Books.” But that “certified true copy of extract from Roll Books” is not the General Legal Council’s own bona fide document. Here too, there is a problem, which we underscore below.

We note that the General Legal Council itself did not provide its own separate “certified true copy of an extract from the Roll Books” to confirm that Akufo-Addo had indeed been certified and called to the Bar.

Instead, the endorsement by the Judicial Secretary and the Chairman of the General Legal Council, Samuel Azu Crabbe, was done on the handwritten “extract” from the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple. On this form, there is a signature under the name of William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, stating his designation as “LEGAL PRACTITIONER” and the information “Received my Certificate of Call and Qualifying Certificate.” All this information is on the document signed by J.B. Morrison, Under Treasurer of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.

In effect, the General Legal Council did not issue its own “certified true copy of extracts on Roll Books” to confirm that it had records of Akufo-Addo’s being called to the Bar. I don’t know if that was the practice in the 1970s or if it is still the norm that the General Legal Council doesn’t use its own stationery for records on its dealings with newly trained lawyers.

I repeat that the information concerning the signature of the Judicial Secretary, the Chairman of the General Legal Council, and William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (together with the necessary identifying information) was handwritten written in the document signed by J.B. Morrison (Under Treasurer of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple). This handwritten record is headed ‘ENROLMENTS” and bears the number “GPC/V 1603/rbk/43211/8/74”) and is numbered “41.”

For emphasis’ sake, I reiterate that this is where the records stating everything about William Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is provided by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple and signed by J.B. Morrison, Under Treasurer.

I find it strange that the General Legal Council won’t have its own records to extract information from for Akufo-Addo but would appropriate the handwritten document to “certify” the status of Akufo-Addo.

I suspect strongly too that this so-called “certified copy of the Extract from the Roll Books” bears a number that is Ghanaian and not British.

Folks, take the trouble to scrutinize the reference number for this extract (“GPC/V 1603/rbk/43211/8/74”) and tell me if it doesn’t ring any bell. My good friends, things are not adding up at all.

Again, we note that in the earlier certification note given to Akufo-Addo by Bart-Plange Brew, the certificates were labelled as “Qualifying and Enrolment Certificates.” But that from Bernard Bentil is “Call and Qualifying Certificate.” Any problem with naming here from the General Legal Council? What is happening?

My good friends, our discovery leaves us in no doubt that if this suit goes the whole hog, very interesting issues will emerge. If anybody doubts it, he should just hold his breath that the case is not hampered by any needless technicality, especially Akufo-Addo’s earlier claim that because the matter concerns the status of a lawyer, the appropriate forum for it should be the General Legal Council and not the High Court. Thus, he is pleading for the case to be struck out.

Nobody should have the need to run away or hide if there is nothing to fear. As for me, I am set to probe further into this matter for all that it entails. I have nothing ulterior motivating me except to help find closure to all these allegations and to sustain public education on matters concerning our national leaders.

No doubt, Akufo-Addo’s efforts at the Supreme Court indicate that he wants to be Ghana’s President if Lady Luck smiles on him. With all these allegations hanging around his neck, he must not be glossed over. Those who think otherwise can choose not to read what I write about the matter. It won’t deter me from probing into it.

Akufo-Addo may choose to sue Justice Kpegah. But he will first have to clear the hurdle now in front of him. Certified copies of extracts cannot supplant official records on qualifying/call or enrolment certificates! Only an Akufo-Addo can redeem an Akufo-Addo!

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.