Will Nana Konadu Have Justice?

Tue, 13 Jun 2006 Source: Quaye, Rikard

The week starting on 12th June, 2006 presents interesting legal challenges to the Former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings and her legal team, led by Tony Lithur of Lithur Brew & Company. From Monday 12th June to Wednesday 14th June, 2006, the case in which she sued Ato Sam alias Baby Ansabah, Gina Blay and Western Publications (publishers of the Daily Guide) in the Fast Track High Court for libel, is scheduled for continuation.

As part of their defence, the Defendants in that case caused a subpoena to be issued and directed at the Auditor General and the Attorney General to appear in court to testify on their behalf. Whether by design or not, the Auditor General was led in evidence by the Defendants? Counsel to introduce in evidence matters relating to the divestiture of Nsawam Cannery. The Auditor General, during his evidence-in-chief tendered in evidence the two audit reports which have since formed the basis of the institution of criminal proceedings by the Attorney General, against the Former First Lady for causing financial loss to the state. Also charged with the Former First Lady are eight other accused persons, including Caridem owned by the 31st December Women?s Movement, Kwame Peprah, the former Finance Minister under the National Democratic Congress Government, the former Executive Secretary of the Divestiture Implementation Committee, Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo, Larry Adjetey the principal of the law firm, Law Trust Company and a former director of Caridem (as well as the son of the Former Speaker of Parliament under the NPP Government, Peter Ala Adjetey), other directors of Caridem including Sherry Ayittey, George Mould and interestingly Georgina Okaiteye (who testified against Sherry Ayittey, Emmanuel Agbodo, Ralph Casely-Hayford and Sati Ocran in the GREL case).

On the previous adjourned date in the libel case, the Fast Track High Court, presided over by Mrs. Justice Iris May- Brown, ordered the Defendants to ensure the attendance in court of the Auditor General and the Attorney General to testify in the case. It may be recalled that on that previous date, the Auditor General who was scheduled to be cross-examined by Tony Lithur, failed to turn up in court, with a written excuse that he would be away for three weeks on a national assignment. It was suggested by some legal pundits that the only reason he may have stayed away was to avoid adverse cross-examination on the divestiture of Nsawam Cannery by Tony Lithur (who, together with Kweku Bram Larbi, also represents the Former First Lady in the criminal case), in the hope that he would have testified in the criminal case before being subjected to further cross-examination in the libel case. Now that it is not likely that he would be able to testify in the criminal case soon, it will be interesting to find out whether or not the Auditor General will turn up in court this time to testify in the libel case, or find another reason not to attend.

During the same week, on Thursday 15th June, 2006, the Former First Lady, together with the 8 accused persons (including Caridem), will also appear in court in the criminal case. Her legal team had, on the last adjourned date, filed an application to stay the criminal case permanently (or at least temporarily pending the final determination of another civil case touching on the same subject matter), on the ground that its institution amounts to abuse of the processes of the court and of the Attorney General?s prosecutorial powers under Article 88 of the 1992 Constitution.

The broad basis of the application is that there is a pending suit at the High Court, Accra, instituted by Caridem against the Attorney General (on behalf of the Government of Ghana), and the Divestiture Implementation Committee on the same subject matter. The accused persons allege that the Attorney General has improper motives for instituting the criminal proceedings against the Former First Lady, Caridem and its directors, and that the predominant purpose is to undermine the outcome of the civil suit and regain ownership of Nsawam Cannery through oblique means.

The application was filed and served on the Attorney General late, and therefore, upon his request, the Presiding Judge, Mr. Justice Baafour Bonney, adjourned the case to Thursday, the 15th day of June, 2006 for arguments.

When the Former First Lady was asked about her views on the criminal case generally, and on the application for stay of proceedings in particular, she stated that the NPP Government has done its worst by instituting the criminal proceedings. Nothing can be done about it, unless it decides to withdraw the charges. She however expressed confidence in her legal team, and stated that since the matter is now before the courts, it is her hope that the judicial system will be resilient and work in the interest of justice. In her own words ?the people of Ghana and the world are watching the judiciary?.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Quaye, Rikard