Osei-Adjei Battles A-G

Akwasi Osei-AdjeiAN ACCRA Human Rights Court will on September 15, 2009 deliver a ruling as to whether or not to stay execution of a judgment it gave in favour of Akwasi Osei-Adjei, Former Foreign Affairs Minister, in which it ordered the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to return his passport which had been confiscated by the state.

The court, presided over by Justice U.P.Dery, slated the date after Ebo Barton-Odro, the Deputy Minister for Justice and Attorney General and Godfred Yeboah-Dame had argued extensively on the stay of execution motion.

The Deputy Minister, who applied for the motion to stop the order until a final determination of the matter at the court of appeal, in his submission noted that the continuous holding of the passport was necessary because Osei Adjei is the subject of criminal investigations based on reasonable suspicion that he has committed an offence against the country.

He observed that although the former minister was aware that he was being investigated on a certain transaction he made between Indian and Ghana, the minister still traveled to India this year.

The Deputy Minister, who argued that the right of the state was paramount to that of the former minister, stressed that if this posture is not discontinued, it would affect investigations being conducted into the matter.

He said, “The people of Ghana need to know what their money is being used for, therefore in the interest of justice, the passport must be kept from him. The passport does not belong to him so the state at any point in time can demand for it”.

According to Mr. Odro, the appeal has a strong possibility of success emphasizing that if the passport is released and their appeal succeeds, the outcome of the appeal would be defeated because by then the Minister would have absconded and this will make it extremely difficult for the BNI to investigate him.

Mr. Yeboah-Dame on the other hand noted that the application is “maliciously inspired and is merely a devious attempt by the AG to deny Osei-Adjei his fundamental human rights under the constitution without any just cause”.

He objected to Mr. Odro’s claim that his client is the subject of investigations stating that at all material times relevant to the case,  he was never the subject of any criminal investigations by any security agency of the state and had not been cautioned or charged with any criminal offence since the investigation started in May this year.

According to him, Osei Adjei’s passport bears no valid visa and so it is outrageously untrue for the state to contend that he would abscond from the jurisdiction.

“Indeed as far as I can recollect, a perusal of my passport will show that apart from an Indian visa which I acquired long before the end of last year which may have even expired, I do not have any valid visa in my impounded passport”.

Citing article 14 of the 1992 constitution to buttress his point, Mr. Yeboah-Dame stated that every person has the right to enjoy freedom of movement and subsequently noted that the continuous restriction of this movement without the due processes being followed was sheer bad faith to deny him of his right.

Counsel maintaining that the restriction should be authorized by the law, asked the court to dismiss the application since the appeal itself is unmeritorious, and raises no serious questions of law and fact for the consideration of the court of Appeal.

Counsel asked the Deputy AG to deposit his client’s passport with the court in order for clarification of the truth.

By Mary Anane & Jessica Amponsah