….As he is accused of hijacking private law firm
Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi Hughes’ 2009 emptying of his official residence as the third most powerful personality in the country, has finally landed in court, where he is supposed to be responding to claims that he falsified documents to surreptitiously gain total control of over 67-year-old law firm based in Accra and Takoradi in the Western Region.
Ghana’s Speaker of Parliament from 2005 to 2009, is claiming to be a resident of Takoradi and wants the legal tussle over the law firm “Gaisie Zwennes Hughes & Company” transferred there for adjudication, but this is being vehemently fought by the two partners, Charles William Zwennes and Peter Raymond Zwennes, whom he sought to kick out from the firm.
Interestingly, among the documents filed in court is a Daily Guide newspaper publication, showing that Mr Sekyi Hughes, “now an octogenarian”, who is no longer in active private legal practice and retired, now resides at a home located at No. 27, 1st Circular Road, Cantonments, Accra, hence must not have the case against him transferred to the twin city; Sekondi–Takoradi, his comfort zone.
The two are expected in court later today to slug it out against the former Speaker of Parliament, whom they feel wants to deny them their stakes in a law firm they had contributed to, laboured and built into a giant institution in the last 21 years as partners.
The newspaper cutting dated May 2009, had quoted Samuel Atta Akyea of Zoe, Akyea & Co. acting as lawyer for the ex-Speaker writing to the Secretary of the Parliamentary Service Board (PSB), Matthew Abrefa Tawiah and inviting the board to his private residence in Accra for the collection of the items Mr Sekyi Hughes had taken away from his official bungalow.
Charles and Peter, a son and a nephew of C.B.K. Zwennes, respectively, in their legal documents filed in an Accra high court, revealed that the ex-speaker, “…has used the death certificate and obituary notice of the late legal luminary to register himself as if he is the sole surviving partner of “Gaisie Zwennes Hughes & company.”
He had filed changes at the registry falsely calling himself the sole surviving partner, which does not reflect the true ownership structure and membership of the firm.
The ex-Speaker had written a 7-point letter to the Courts in Accra dated October 27, 2023, saying he was a resident of Beach Road, Takoradi whom the Plaintiffs have taken this action against as a partner of Gaisie Zwennes Hughes and Co whose principal place of business is Atlantic Chemist Building, South Chapel Hill, Takoradi.
“By reason of the above, this Honourable Court and indeed, the Courts in Accra are not the proper forum to try this suit. That my lawyer shall seek the leave of the Court to refer to the processes filed in the suit in arguing this application”.
He will pray to the Court for an order for referral of same to the Chief Justice for transfer to the High Court in Sekondi.
But Charles William Zwennes and Peter Raymond Zwennes in an affidavit in opposition to the order for referral for transfer of suit said that “the instant application is totally unmeritorious and say further that same is nothing but a mischievous contrivance on the part of the Defendant/Applicant to throw dust in the eyes of the Court in a desperate bid to frustrate the ends of justice”.
They explained that “ever since the retirement of the Defendant/Applicant on Tuesday, 6th of January 2009 from his holding of the high public office of Speaker of the House of Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, Plaintiff/Respondents and most sections of the general public have known as a common fact that Defendant/Applicant’s private residence is at 27, 1st Circular Road, Cantonments, Accra.
“Indeed upon leaving the official Government residence of the Speaker of the House of Parliament (also situated in Cantonments) on Thursday, 26th February 2009, the Defendant/Applicant and his household went from the government bungalow directly into physical occupation of his private residence at 27, 1st Circular Road, Cantonments, Accra, which is also a common fact well-known to the general public.
“Purely as a matter of establishing through evidentiary proof the question of his residency in Accra, the Plaintiff/Respondents invite this Honourable Court to take Judicial Notice of the fact that from the aforesaid date of Thursday, 26th February 2009, the national newspaper dailies, radio stations, internet web sites, blog reports and all public news media networks in Ghana reported on a matter of public interest to the fact that the Defendant/Applicant had made off with government-owned domestic household items from the official Government residence of the Speaker of the House of Parliament directly to his next place of abode, which was indeed at his private residence at 27, 1st Circular Road, Cantonments, Accra.
”Some 3 good months after their removal, the government-owned domestic household items remained at his private residence in Accra, since as late as on 25th May 2009, the Defendant/Applicant himself, acting through his lawyer, Atta Akyea Esq., was reported of in the news media as having relentingly written to the Parliamentary Service Board (PSB), inviting the State authority to visit “his private residence in Accra”, at their “earliest convenience” for purposes of retrieving the government-owned goods for them to be returned to State inventory. (I attach a copy of one of the news reports published by The Daily Guide [www.modernghana.com] entitled: “Ex-Speaker Returns Items”.
“Even some 4 good months after their removal, the government-owned domestic household items still remained at his residence in Accra, since as late as on 25th June 2009, the Defendant/Applicant’s lawyer, Atta Akyea Esq. stated on a radio interview on “Adom Kasiebo FM” that, “….All arrangements have been made to transport the items from the Former Speaker’s house in Cantonments back to the current Speaker’s official residence.”
“Given that the nature of the household items were largely articles and utensils of a domestic nature used for cooking, eating, sleeping, washing, cleaning as well as machines used to “feather his nest” in the lifestyle he had become accustomed to in the home setting, I hereby invite this Honourable Court to infer from the evidence so far deposed hereto that the private house belonging to the Defendant/Applicant located at 27, 1st Circular Road, Cantonments, Accra is indeed his home, and has at all material times since 29th February 2009 served as such.
“In addition more recently on 29th September 2023 after the filing of this lawsuit, Joseph Andoh, the court-appointed bailiff of this Honourable Court attempted to serve the Defendant/Applicant on three separate occasions at his private residence at 27, 1st Circular Road, Cantonments, Accra. The sworn oath of Joseph Andoh attests that the security guards at the gate of his private residence acknowledged that the Defendant/Applicant did indeed live and reside there, but said that he had at that time travelled out of the jurisdiction.
They will invite the court to conclude from all the depositions made and all the exhibits attached as evidence corroborating same that the Defendant/Applicant has indeed at all material times resided at 27, 1st Circular Road, Cantonments, Accra, and continues to do so.
“Contrary to the matters deposed to in paragraph 3 of the affidavit in support of the instant application this lawsuit is not an Action by or against Partners under the provisions of Order 6 of C.I. 47, and we the Plaintiff/Respondents have NOT sued the Defendant/Applicant in his capacity as a partner of any firm. The instant action is rather an action for remedies of rectification against the Defendant/Applicant for falsifying the public records kept at the Office of the Registrar of Companies (ORC) here in Accra.
“Contrary to the matters deposed to in paragraph 4 of the affidavit in support of the instant application it is precisely the case of we the Plaintiff/Applicants which we make in our Statement of Claim (in paragraphs 20 and 22) that it is rather the Accra office at which we work and manage that is the principal place of business of Gaisie Zwennes Hughes & Co. and not any place else in Takoradi where the Defendant/Applicant has falsely entered on the public register here in Accra.
It concluded that “at the hearing of this application, reference will be made to legal grounds upon which the application ought to be struck out in limine.