Justice Francis Yaonasu Kpegah took cover yesterday when a case he initiated against Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the 2012 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), was called in court.
The retired Supreme Court Justice was nowhere to be found when a preliminary objection raised in the case in which he is suing Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for impersonation, was heard at the Motions Court in Accra.
Nana Akufo-Addo was however present in court and was supported by top-notch team of lawyers most of whom were nurtured by his respected law firm, Akufo-Addo, Prempeh and Co.
Daniel Djentuh, announcing himself as representing Justice Kpegah, told the court, presided over by Justice Cecilia Sowah of the Court of Appeal, that the retired Supreme Court justice, who is a leading member of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) legal team, had been taken ill suddenly and could not make an appearance.
Interestingly, Justice Kpegah, who claimed to be indisposed, was heard live on radio bragging that he was going to give Nana Akufo-Addo a knock-out on the next adjourned date.
On the processes filed, Justice Kpegah, who wants a declaration that Nana Akufo-Addo is “not entitled to practice law in Ghana,” and also wants the authorities to close down the law firm Akufo-Addo, Prempeh and Co, had averred that he was going to do his own case.
“He has suddenly become ill. He fell ill today. It is on health grounds that he is not here,” Mr. Djentuh, who said he works at Providence Chambers when the judge demanded his particulars, told the court.
Justice Kpegah was very loud on Joy FM, an Accra-based radio station, claiming that he was going to give Nana Akufo-Addo a knock-out when they meet on the next adjourned date on May 2.
When the case was called, Godfred Yeboah Dame, representing Nana Akufo-Addo, tried to move a motion asking the court to strike out Justice Kpegah’s action as “frivolous, vexatious, an abuse of the court’s process and disclosing no reasonable cause of action,” Mr. Djentuh raised preliminary objection saying “we have not filed any affidavit in opposition because they (respondent/applicant) have not entered any conditional appearance.
“They are not properly before you,” he argued, but the judge cut in to ask, “You are aware that appearance has been entered albeit conditional?”, to which Mr. Djentuh replied, “They have not entered conditional appearance to set aside the writ of summons under Order 9 Rule 8.”
The judge then asked Justice Kpegah’s counsel: “Where is your brief? I see that the plaintiff said he was entering the case himself”, but counsel replied, “He could have been here personally but he was suddenly taken ill…I am representing him.”
At this moment, counsel made a request for a date and Mr. Yeboah-Dame vehemently protested and the judge said, “If you are holding someone’s brief you take your brief with you…You do not know what will happen.”
Mr. Yeboah-Dame then took the floor and told the court that they were relying on Order 11 Rule 18 which sought to set aside Justice Kpegah’s action.
Counsel used Justice Kpegah’s own rulings on conditional appearance to make his point and said “the preliminary objection is totally misconceived”.
The judge then overruled Justice Kpegah’s preliminary objection and asked Nana Akufo-Addo’s counsel to move the motion, seeking to strike out the action.
Mr. Yeboah-Dame said it was appropriate for Justice Kpegah to have regard for procedure, saying, “This process cannot be allowed to fester. The defendant continues to suffer abuse in the eyes of the public.”
Counsel argued that it was not worth it for the court to go into full hearing since the action was “frivolous, vexatious, an abuse of the court’s process and disclosing no reasonable cause of action.”
He said Justice Kpegah was at the wrong forum as far as the application was concerned and added that per the exhibits attached to the affidavit, the plaintiff had shown no reasonable cause of action.
“We contend that all matters governing legal practice are spelt out in the Legal Profession Act (Act 32) and the proper forum the plaintiff needed to go first should have been the General Legal Council, where such matters are addressed before any further action.”
He said Nana Akufo-Addo had attached an exhibit that showed that he signed the Roll Book in 1975 after he had been admitted to the Middle Temple Bar in England and that the name William and Nana are well clarified in the Roll Book.
He said Justice Kpegah’s claim “is just not maintainable,” and asked the court to award punitive cost against the plaintiff.
Reacting, Mr. Djentuh, who looked ill-prepared, said the 1992 Constitution mandated the High Court to deal with all matters but he failed to mention any specific article(s) or clause(s) to back his case.
He said the signatures signed by Nana Akufo-Addo in the Roll Book were different but Mr. Yeboah-Dame objected because he said the plaintiff’s counsel had not filed any affidavit to be able to make those claims.
The judge then told Justice Kpegah’s counsel that “I am really surprised that in such a case you come without your brief.”
The court fixed Wednesday May 2, 2013 as the date for ruling.
Kpegah Fires Back
However, in a press statement issued last night and copied to Dr Raymond Atuguba, President Mahama’s Executive Secretary via the email, Justice Kpegah said Nana Akufo-Addo’s counsel should not have been given the platform in court yesterday.
“Today the 23rd Day of April, a Judicial sacrilege was occasioned when the presiding Judge at the Fast Track High Court granted audience to Lawyer Godfred Yeboah Dame to move an ill-conceived application to strike out the case in the matter involving my humble self Justice Francis Yaonasu Kpegah as plaintiff and NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO -ADDO as Defendant, SUIT NO. AP 94/2013.
“The presiding Judge should not have granted audience to Lawyer Godfred Yeboah Dame since he did not enter appearance to the writ of summons for and on behalf of the Defendant NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO and is, therefore, not known to the Honourable Court and the parties to the instant suit. The only way he could have been granted audience by the Honourable Court is if he had filed a NOTICE OF CHANGE OF SOLICITORS.
“My search at the Registry of the Fast Track High Court indicates that there was no notice of change of solicitors filed at the Registry of the Fast Track High Court. This was also confirmed by the Registrar of the Fast Track High Court, Mr Gyimah.
“I was unable to attend Court today in person due to ill health. However, I was duly represented by Mr. Djantuh, a practising Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Ghana. Let me put on record that my not being in Court personally today should not offer any premature sanctuary of comfort to the defendant Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo -Addo. I am still going to let the whole world know that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo is impersonating WAD Akufo-Addo who is number 1190 on the ROLL OF LAWYERS IN GHANA”, he said in the press statement.
By William Yaw Owusu