Friday, August 31, 2012

'Judgement against Bawku MP unfortunate'

August 8, 2012 (Page 19) THE lead lawyer for the incarcerated Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mr Yonny Kulendi has described the Fast Track High Court’s judgment against the MP as unfortunate. The court, presided over by Mr Justice Charles Quist, on July 27, 2012 sentenced Adamu Daramani Sakande, to two years imprisonment for falsely holding himself as a Ghanaian in order to be elected into office as MP. The MP was found guilty and convicted on three counts of false declaration of office or voting, perjury and deceiving a public officer and is currently serving his term at the Nsawam Prison. Mr Yonny Kulendi, in a telephne interview with the Daily Graphic said the defence team would appeal the court’s decision immediately it laid hands on the judgment of the court. According to counsel, it was most unfortunate for the trial judge to order the arrest of the immigration consultant who prepared the renunciation papers for the MP when the MP expressed interest in contesting for parliamentary elections in Ghana. He said Stanley Poku tendered his immigration practicising licence to the court and further pointed out that he and another lawyer, Mr Egbert Faibille had visited Mr Poku at his office in London. According to counsel, Mr Poku who was billed to give evidence at the Supreme Court on behalf of the MP on October 18, 2012 had been gagged by the Fast Track High Court because he risked being arrested when he sets foot in Ghana. “Mr Poku is a recognized, and duly licenced immigraiton consultant in the United Kingdom. The court has tied our hands to call Stanley, who is billed to testify at the Supreme Court on October 18, 2012,” Mr Kulendi stressed and maintained that “Sakande’s move to get Mr Poku to testify has been dealt a death blow.” Touching on the court’s order which said the defence team should have led evidence to call his parents and grandparents to testify that he was a Ghanain was an issue which the court had already determined on July 8, 2010 during its ruling on a “submission of no case”. He said the court in its ruling on July 8, 2010 held that the MP held a valid Ghanaian passport which it termed as “Exhibit A” and was, therefore, a Ghanaian citizen. “It is, therefore, strange for him to state in his judgement that the MP was a Burkinabe and not a Ghanaian,” the lawyer stated. “The only issue left was whether or not he had renounced his British citizenship and that issue was also dealt with when the MP opened his defence,” Mr Kulendi said. Counsel said “the same trial judge had declined recommending the prosecution of a witness, who had confessed to have falsified minutes not withstanding application before him that the witness had committed perjury.” He said the court in that particular case argued that ordering the prosecution of the witness would amount to usurping the powers of the Attorney-General as enshrined in Article 88 of the 1992 Constitution. He said in a ruling dated November 16, 2011 in suit number ACC60/2009 and titled Republic vrs Stephen Asamoah-Boateng and 8 ors, upon an application by the defence that the court should recommend the prosecution of a witness, who had admitted forgery of documents. Counsel said Judge Quist in opined that “to order or recommend that a prosecution witness be charged with an offence is to l usurp the functions of the Ag as provided under article 88 of the 1992 Constitution.” According to counsel, it was, therefore, strange for the court to order the arrest of Mr Poku when there was no such application before him and especially when Mr Poku had not committed any offence. The MP was, on July 31, 2009, arraigned before the court charged with nine counts relating to his nationality, perjury, forgery of passport, election fraud and deceiving public officers to be elected as an MP. He was, however, exonerated on six of those charges on July 8, 2010 and subsequently convicted on three charges of false declaration of office or voting, perjury and deceiving a public officer. A cattle farmer, Sumaila Biebel in March 2009, filed a suit at the High Court challenging the eligibility of the MP on the grounds that the MP held both British and Burkinabe passports. The Accra Fast Track High Court presided over by Mr Justice S. K. Asiedu ordered the MP to vacate his seat. It also declared that the MP owed allegiance to Britain other than Ghana and for that reason he could not hold a position as MP in Ghana. On March 18, 2010, the Court of Appeal sets aside the Fast Track High Court’s order to the MP to vacate his seat and held that under the law, all matters relating to electoral disputes were to be heard as electoral petitions and those petitions are to be heard 21 days after the results of the elections have been declared. In this particular case, the court held that the complainant had failed to meet that requirement. Aggrieved by the Court of Appeal’s decision, Mr Biebel went to the Supreme Court, which decided to take evidence from him. He has since completed his evidence and the court is expected to take evidence from Mr Poku on October 18, 2012.

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