General News of Wednesday, 21 March 2018
A seven-member panel of the Supreme Court presided over by Justice William Atuguba has ordered lawyers in the case in which the former Board Chairman of the National Communication Authority (NCA), Eugene Baffoe Bonnie and four others are standing trial for wilfully causing financial loss to the state to file their statement of case within two weeks.
The apex court further directed that the Attorney General’s Department also file their statement of case within two weeks upon service by the accused persons in a matter the Supreme Court is to address the rival interpretation of Article 19, clause (2)(e) and (g) of the I992 Constitution.
Proceedings at the Commercial High Court has been put on hold after the defence lawyers demanded from the court to stay proceedings and refer the matter to the Supreme Court for the apex court to give its proper interpretation, a prayer the High Court granted.
The apex court panel, which also includes Justice Sophia Adenyira, Justice Julius Ansah, Justice Jones Dotse, Justice Annin Yeboah, Justice Sule Gbadegbe and Justice Yaw Apau, however, adjourned the matter indefinitely.
The former NCA Board Chairman, Baffoe Bonnie, Director General William Tetteh Tevie, Nana Owusu Enson and Alhaji Osman Mimina, both board members, and George Derrick Oppong have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Moving their consolidated motion at the High Court, the lawyers said the matter, which borders on constitutional interpretation, ought to be referred to the Supreme Court since the apex court has the original jurisdiction to interpret issues bordering on the constitution.
The court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour granted the motion and referred the matter to the interpretation of article 19 (2) (e) and (g).
He added that there was a rival interpretation by the parties regarding the constitutional provision and that clearly indicated that there is a need for the Supreme Court to give its interpretation.
It was the case of the applicants at the High Court for the court to compel the Attorney General’s Department to disclose to the defence team all documents they intend to rely on throughout the trial as well as a comprehensive list of all prosecution witnesses they intend to call in support of their case
In praying the court, they said the refusal by the respondent to furnish them with copies of documents and other materials they wanted to rely on in the trial constituted a violation of human right of accused persons of fair trial.
He prayed the court to order the prosecution to furnish the applicants with the list of witnesses and summary of evidence of their testimonies before witnesses would be called.
Counsel also prayed the court to declare that in any document or material evidence they attempted to tender without giving them access three clear days same ought to be declared inadmissible pursuant to Article 19(2) (g).
Affidavits in Opposition
The State, in an affidavit of opposition to the application filed by defence lawyers indicated that the order the defence lawyers were seeking amounted to seeking an interpretation of the 1992 Constitution and such should constitute a separate application to the Supreme Court.
But Mrs Evelyn Keelson, Chief State Attorney, in her response to the application, rather shied away from their own case and instead told the court that there was nothing for the Supreme Court to determine and therefore the application should not be entertained.
According to her, the issue in contention had already been dealt with by the court and complied with by the constitution. She said before the order of the court, the prosecution had indicated that since the trial is a summary trial, “we can only give documents to their counsel as and when we have them.”
She explained that some documents were given to the accused persons long before the witness would be called and that counsel could not seek to put their own interpretation about what the constitution talks about.