The case in which a former Supreme Court judge, Mr Justice Francis Kpegah has questioned the credentials of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as a lawyer, took a dramatic turn on its very first hearing, when the plaintiff failed to show up.
When the case was called at the Fast Track High Court in Accra today – Tuesday, one Mr David Djentuh, who said he was representing Mr Justice Kpegah, attributed his absence to ill health.
But in an unsuccessful attempt to make a case for the plaintiff, Mr Djentuh told the court that the defendant had not filed any condition of appearance and hence he had not appeared properly before the court.
He proceeded to ask for a date at the convenience of the court for the hearing to begin.
But the presiding judge, Ms Justice Cecilia H. Sowah had a contrary opinion.
The judge asked to see the brief that indicated that Mr Djentuh was representing the plaintiff, but he failed to produce one.
“Are you representing him as counsel; have you filed your brief?, the judge queried and expressed surprise that counsel went to court empty handed.
Notwithstanding the concern raised by the presiding judge, Mr Djentuh stood his ground still asking for a date.
This drew a chorused “nooooooooo” from Nana Akufo-Addo’s team of seven lawyers, led by Mr Stephen Dapaah Addo.
Ms Justice Sowah expressed shock at Mr Djentuh’s insistence on a new date for the hearing and asked him what his arguments were.
To that, Mr Djentuh continued his old line of argument that the defendants had not filed any condition of appearance.
That assertion energised Mr Godfred Dame to his feet.
He argued that one could only enter a condition of appearance if there was an affidavit, which the plaintiff did not file.
Ironically, he quoted a ruling of Mr Justice Kpegah to back his claim and urged the court to dismiss the suit as frivolous.
But Mr Djentuh, who seemed confused, still maintained that the defendants had not filed a condition of appearance.
In response, Mr Dame said the position of Mr Djentuh was a scandalous process that could not be allowed to continue.
“The defendant can’t continue to suffer in the eyes of the public and the media. If Justice Kpegah is sick as being claimed what have we here to show that he is sick?” he asked.
Mr Dame prayed the court to dismiss the case because it was not worth hearing.
“The plaintiff is in the wrong forum. Per the exhibit we have attached, it is frivolous and a total abuse of the court process.
He contended that the appropriate forum for the plaintiff was the General Legal Council (GLC) which had been mandated by the Legal Profession Act, (Act 32) of 1960 to handle all issues
pertaining to the qualifications of a lawyer.
“It is preposterous for the plaintiff to put the case before court to claim impersonation. He should have requested the appropriate authorities to investigate before coming to court,” he added.
He said there was enough evidence to show that Nana Akufo-Addo was called to the Middle Temple Bar in the United Kingdom in 1971 and subsequently enrolled in the Ghana Bar in accordance with Act 32.
He said there were even extracts showing that his client signed the roll of lawyers before the Chairman of the GLC on July 8, 1975.
“It is a person that is called to the Bar and not a name,” he said, adding that there was enough documentation to prove that the said William Akufo-Addo was Nana Akufo-Addo whose father had clearly been described as Edward Akufo-Addo, a former President of Ghana.
He said the plaintiff per his writ clearly admitted that Nana Akufo-Addo was called to the Middle Temple Bar.
He said the plaintiff’s arguments were not tenable and, therefore, asked for hefty cost against him.
Countering Mr Dame’s arguments, Mr Djentu debunked the assertion that the High Court was not the appropriate forum, saying “the 1992 Constitution madantes the High Court to hear all matters and not some matters.”
“It is clear knowledge that if you change your name, you have to publish it. There is nothing on record to show that William Akufo-Addo was the same as Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.”
He observed that the signature on the roll of lawyers was different from Nana Akufo-Addo’s signature and, therefore, could not be the same person.
But the judge would not countenance that line of argument, insisting that Mr Djentuh could only argue on a point of law since he did not file any affidavit.
Nana Akufo-Addo, who was in court sat pensively throughout the proceedings. He occasionally removed his spectacles and wiped beads of sweat in the packed courtroom.
He occasionally conferred with his lawyers and managed a smile sometimes as the banter between his lawyers and Justice Kpegah’s counsel continued.
Before the case was called, Nana Akufo-Addo asked one of his lawyers, “Does he have a lawyer? Who is his lawyer.” He smiled to the response which was barely audible.
The court fixed May 2, 2013 to rule on the preliminary objection by Nana Akufo-Addo’s lawyers.
Story: Seth J. Bokpe
Newer news items:
Older news items: