The appeal processes filed by NDC MP Abuga Pele and another to set aside the decision of an Accra Financial Court asking them to open their defence have been halted.
This is due to the unending strike action being embarked upon by some lawyers at the Attorney General’s Department.
The Chiana/Paga MP’s co-accused, Philip Akpeena Assibit, who is the CEO of Goodwill International Ghana (GIG), was due to move his motion on notice challenging the dismissal of his application for submission of no case but the Court of Appeal could not proceed due to the strike.
When the case was called, there was no state prosecutor present and Raymond Bagnabu, representing Assibit, told Court of Appeal judge Justice Barbara Ackah-Ayensu that he could not move the motion in the absence of the prosecution.
Philip Akpeena Assibit
The judge agreed with counsel that the motion to set aside the trial court’s decision could not be moved due to the absence of the prosecution, even though there was proof of service at the AG’s Department.
She then adjourned the proceedings sine die.
Submission of No Case
On Friday, June 19, the Financial Court presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe ordered the MP and Assibit to open their defence after the court held that the prosecution had been able to establish prima facie case against the two.
The two had filed ‘submission of no case to answer’ applications separately but the court dismissed them and said they had a case to answer at the close of the prosecution’s case in April.
In a long ruling which took about one-and-half hours to read, Justice Afia Asare-Botwe had held that some of the matters raised by Abuga Pele and Assibit in their applications were issues that would require testimonies on oath to enable the court to come to a conclusion.
The judge, however, conceded that the ‘standard of the law’ at that stage of the trial was not as high compared to when the accused had been able to complete their testimonies and the entire case had closed.
The court said the prosecution led evidence to the effect that Abuga Pele (NYEP), through MDPI and Assibit (GIG), signed MoU to offer consultancy services, among others, on the blind side of then sector Minister Akua Sena Dansoa and needed to explain his action.
Trial Judge Erred?
However, Assibit is averring that the trial judge erred in holding that he should proceed to open his defence because the ruling did not support the evidence adduced at the close of the prosecution’s case.
‘The trial judge erred in law when she applied wrong particulars of fact in coming to her conclusion as regard to count seven,’ he averred, adding, ‘the trial judge erred in law when she made certain definite findings of fact even before I had opened my defence.’
He said the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses had been ‘so discredited’ in cross examination that he could not be asked to open his defence.
Abuga Pele, who is the former National Coordinator of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), now GYEEDA, is also said to have filed for a stay of proceedings but it was not clear if his notice of appeal was ready.
On the charge sheet presented by the Attorney General’s Department, the two men are facing a total of 19 counts ranging from defrauding by false pretences to wilfully causing financial loss to the state.
Assibit alone is charged with six counts of defrauding by false pretences to the tune of $2,028,605.20 and another five counts of dishonestly causing loss to public property to the tune of GH¢3,305,568.53.
Abuga Pele, the second accused, on the other hand, is charged with two counts of abetment, one count of intentionally misapplying public property and five counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, all to the tune of GH¢3,305,568.53.
By William Yaw Owusu
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