Hints Going To Supreme Court To Overturn Court Of Appeal Decision
Ghanaians are to brace themselves for another Akufo-Addo-Tsatsu Tsikata legal showdown, should the flagbearer of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), be elected as president of Ghana, on Wednesday.
According to Nana Akufo-Addo, last Wednesday’s acquittal and discharge of Tsatsu Tsikata by the Court of Appeal in connection with the case in which the John Agyekum Kufuor-led NPP government, prosecuted and got Tsatsu jailed by an Accra Fast Track High Court for causing financial loss to the state, is “not conclusive.”
Akufo-Addo, who as Attorney General in the Kufuor administration, had his legal limitation exposed by Mr. Tsikata, commenting on the Court of Appeal judgment said, “I don’t know whether the state will appeal the decision at the Supreme Court, maybe the Supreme Court will take a different answer to it but a High Court Judge of some repute, a High Court judge of some quality was the one who found that the facts assembled against him [Tsatsu] by the state were true”.
Akufo-Addo, is not alone. With him is another former Attorney General under the Kufuor Administration, Joseph Nii Ayikoi Otoo, who also once led the prosecution of Mr. Tsikata. To him, the verdict of the Court of Appeal, does not in any way, exonerate him from wrongdoing. He stayed away from suggesting something sinister against Mr. Tsikata.
But the NPP flagbearer, who in 2001, dragged Mr. Tsikata to court with a faulty writ and got thrown out, told two journalists in a joint interview with Citi FM and Joy FM last Friday, that “the Court of Appeal’s decision in the matter is not conclusive. It’s not the final thing. It depends on whether the state wants the matter to rest there or to take it further.”
Akufo-Addo, had taken Mr. Tsikata to court in the name of President Kufuor, instead of the state of Ghana; the court ruled in favour of Mr. Tsikata.
Again, Mr. Tsikata, challenged the constitutionality of the Fast Track Court at Supreme Court, flooring the same Akufo-Addo with a 5 -4 decision.
The Kufuor government, hurriedly packed the Supreme Court with two judges namely, Justice George Lamptey, who was recalled from a medical leave in the United Kingdom (UK), and Justice Dixon Kwame Afreh ,who was freshly appointed from the Court of Appeal, to overturn the unconstitutionality of the Fast Track Court.
The Kufuor government in the end, got a 6-5 decision. The Fast Track Court, a name coined by the NPP ahead of its 2000 electoral victory to jail “corrupt” appointees of the Rawlings regime, was later to be renamed the Fast Track High Court.
Asked if he was embarrassed by the turn of events, Akufo-Addo, the three-time NPP flag bearer said: “I’m not embarrassed at all, how can I be embarrassed? That is what courts do. They make a determination of innocence or guilt. …There can be no embarrassment in that matter.”
Mr. Tsikata, was jailed in 2008 for causing financial loss to the tune of GHS230, 000, by now retired, Mrs. Justice Henrietta Abban nee Asare-Krong.
The former CEO of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), was later granted presidential pardon, amidst protests and vigils organised by family and friends in connection with his incarceration.
But according to the Court of Appeal, there was a miscarriage of justice, when the High Court on June 18, 2008, found him guilty on three counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state and also for misapplying public property in relation to a loan that the GNPC guaranteed for Valley Farms, a private cocoa-growing company.
After the ruling by the Court of Appeals, Mr. Tsikata, told journalists that “justice has been found in the court”.
Mr. Tsikata, in 2009, rejected the unconditional pardon granted him by Mr. Kufuor and vowed he would continue to pursue justice in the court of law.
He described Mr. Kufuor’s gesture offered hours to his exit as President as “the height of hypocrisy”, Mr. Tsikata said: “I have never sought, and I do not need your pretence of mercy. Justice is my quest and I will pursue this quest in accordance with the Constitution and laws of Ghana.”
In a two-page hand-written note to Mr. Kufuor dated January 6, 2009, Mr. Tsikata said: “Your apparent exercise of the presidential prerogative of mercy in respect of a conviction and imprisonment which you were the prime mover of, is the height of hypocrisy.
“The desecration of justice that was perpetrated against me in the Fast Track High Court on June 8, 2008 was at your instance, initiated in 2001 with your first Attorney-General, Nana Akufo-Addo. Nothing can divert attention from the responsibilities of the judges before whom my appeal and other legal processes are currently pending concerning my case.
“Indeed, your action in these final hours of your administration improperly interferes with these judicial processes and is clearly in bad faith. Your participation, indeed, your leading role in desecrating justice, not only in relation to me, but in many other cases, are part of your legacy as President of Ghana,” he accused.
Mr. Tsikata said, he was convinced that those bad examples, would not endure as part of the country’s future, quoting Psalm 94 verses 15, which prophetically says: “Justice will again be found in the courts, and all righteous people will support it.”
Mr. Tsikata’s protracted trial began in 2002. Valley Farms contracted the loan from Caisse Francaise de Developement in 1991, but defaulted in the payment and the GNPC, which acted as the guarantor, was compelled to pay it in 1996.
Mr. Tsikata, maintained his innocence, throughout the six-year trial.
According to Ayikoi Otoo, the judgment of the Appeals Court, explored technicalities in the law to drop the accusations without necessarily determining whether Tsatsu Tsikata was right or wrong in the matter.
“As far as I am concerned, it is a very critical narrow matter. No one has said he did nothing wrong. What they are saying is that, he was not given the opportunity to call the witness that he wanted to call and it was nobody’s fault.
He kept calling the people, who did not want to come, so where are the facts that he has been proven not guilty.
“As to the facts of the case, whether he did the proper thing or not, I don’t think the judges spoke about it. If this all that the judge said, my understanding is that, it is a very technical, narrow issue.”
The Tsikata case in all, had four Attorney Generals prosecuting namely; Akufo-Addo, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Joseph Nii Ayikoi Otoo and Joe Ghartey.
Interestingly, apart from Akufo-Addo, the others had been students of Mr. Tsikata. Amazingly, Joe Ghartey, after conviction, went back to the court with an application, demanding additional years for his former law lecturer.