Court Stops For Asabee
5/17/2012 2:30:27 PM -
Augustine Obuor, counsel in the trial of Stephen Asamoah Boateng, former Minister of Information and seven others for the contravention of the Public Procurement Act (PPA), yesterday prayed an Accra High Court presided over by Justice Charles Quist to adjourn the trial.
He prayed the court to adjourn the trial as he had already filed a notice of appeal against the judge's decision to tell the principal state attorney, now deputy Attorney-General (A-G), Anthony Gyambiby, to continue prosecuting the case.
The accused persons want the trial adjourned till the final determination of the appeal on whether or not the prosecuting attorney can go on with the trial.
Mr. Obuor had, a few months ago, challenged the capacity of the state attorney as he attained the age of 64 on November 28, 2011, when he should have resigned at the age of 60, as in the case of all public officers and in accordance with Article 190 clause (1) of the constitution.
Defense counsel said he was aware that a notice of appeal did not automatically lead to a stay of proceedings but said the Court of Appeal would soon hear the matter.
According to him, the case should be adjourned now that Gyambiby had shown he was a card-bearing member of the National Democratic Congress who is prosecuting a case against his clients who were former officials of the New Patriotic Party.
However, Mr. Gyambiby disagreed that he was the deputy A-G and said he had just been nominated to be vetted, adding that he had been doing his work irrespective of political affiliation.
Rexford Wiredu, a principal state attorney in the case, also said he had not been served any notice of hearing so Obour gave him a copy but Wiredu insisted that what he had was not a proper service since it was a photocopy.
According to the state attorney, the case should not be read yesterday because he was not ready but would be ready today.
The trial judge adjourned the case to May 29, 2012.
Defence counsel had always maintained that Gyambiby ceased to be a public officer when he became 60 years, adding that there was nothing before the court to show that the services of the chief state attorney had been re-engaged at the Attorney-General's (A-G's) Department.
He said after attaining the retiring age, one was expected to resign, after which his or her services could be re-engaged if necessary, explaining that in the case of the chief prosecuting attorney, he had not seen anything like that.
Obour said in the case of Tsatsu Tsikata, when the then Director for Public Prosecution (DPP), the late Osafo Sampong, attained the age of 60 and the court's attention was drawn to it, Sampong was immediately retired by the former AG, Ayikoi Otoo.
He added that Gertrude Aikins had retired as DPP upon attaining 60 years and had since been re-engaged as a consultant at the A-G's Department.
Defence counsel told the court that the instances stated by the constitution required that if someone at the Attorney-General reached his retiring age, a body called the legal service was the authentic authority to re-engage his services, but noted that the said institution was nonexistent.
He was therefore of the opinion that the capacity to contract Gyambiby was not there.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng, together with his wife and the others, is standing trial for allegedly conspiring to contravene the Procurement Act by not following due processes in awarding a contract amounting to GH¢86, 915.85 to Plexiform Ventures for renovation work at the Ministry of Information.
The other accused persons are Zuleika Jennifer Lorwia, also called Mrs. Asamoah-Boateng, Frank Agyekum, Mr. Asamoah-Boateng's Deputy Minister of Information, Kofi Asamoah Boateng, former Director of Finance and Administration and Dominic Yaw Sampong, Acting Chief Director.
Others are Kwabena Denkyira, Deputy Director of Finance and Administration, Yasmine Domua, Manageress, Prosper Aku of the Supreme Procurement Agency and the company, Supreme Procurement Agencies Limited.
They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and have been granted bail.
By Fidelia Achama