Supreme Court Dismisses Ayawaso West Wuogon Seat Challenge

Lydia Seyram Alhassan

The
Supreme Court has affirmed the decision of the Attorney General, Gloria Afua
Akuffo, to abort the trial of Gregory Afoko who is alleged to have murdered the
Upper East Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Adams Mahama.

This
was after it dismissed an application by Afoko’s lawyers challenging the
decision by the Attorney General (AG) to discontinue the trial before an Accra
High Court.

The
lawyers had asked the apex court to determine whether the AG was fair and just
when she decided to discontinue the trial by filing a nolle prosequi following
the arrest of another suspect in the matter, Asabke Alangdi.

It
was the argument of the lawyer, Osafo Buabeng, that entry of a nolle prosequi by
the defendant on 28th January, 2019, is inconsistent with or is in
contravention of Articles 23 and 296 of the 1992 Constitution and should be
declared as such.

The
lawyer also contended that with the coming into force of the 1992 Constitution,
the power of nolle prosequi is subject to constitutional provisions and any
exercise of the power of nolle prosequi under section 54 of the Criminal and
Other Offences Procedure Act, 1960 Act 30, must be consistent with the
Constitution.

In
the view of the lawyer, the nolle prosequi entered by the AG fell short of
these requirements of Article 296, and was thus unfair to his client.

Opposition

Deputy
Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame in an affidavit in opposition to the writ
averred that the prerogative to file a nolle prosequi as a means of terminating
criminal proceedings stems from the powers of the AG to control criminal
proceedings.

 “We have illustrated that Article 88(3) vests
the Attorney-General completely with responsibility and authority for the institution
of criminal proceedings,” he indicated.

Mr.
Dame added that the AG decided to end the trial by entering nolle prosequi
without any breach to the Constitution.

Judgment

A
seven-member panel of the Supreme Court presided over by Justice Julius Ansah
in a unanimous judgement dismissed the application saying Afoko’s lawyers
failed to show that the AG’s decision was arbitrary and unjust.

According
to the judges, the fact that the trial was nearing its conclusion did not
prevent the AG from taking the decision to discontinue it.

One
of the judges, Justice Gabriel Pwamang, however, in a concurring opinion,
stated the AG must be circumspect in the exercise of its powers to discontinue
trial as it may have consequences on the criminal justice system.

Trial

Afoko
was on trial before an Accra High Court charged with murder to which he pleaded
not guilty.

The
state had closed its case after calling 14 prosecution witnesses, including the
wife of the late Adams Mahama to prove its case against the accused.

Afoko
subsequently opened his defence and vehemently denied the charges preferred
against him.

The
court presided over by Justice Lawrence L. Mensah then ordered Afoko to file
his statement after which the state will respond, and both parties taking turns
to address the court before the jury makes a decision.

But
the state on January 28, 2019, entered nolle prosequi to discontinue the matter
which has been before the court since 2016.

This followed the arrest of Asabke Alangdi who has been hiding in Cote d’Ivoire after fleeing the country.

BY Gibril Abdul Razak

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