Tempers flared up yesterday at an Accra Fast Track High Court between two lawyers over an alleged improper transfer of a case from one judge to another.
The case is between the National Lottery Authority (NLA) and the Ghana Lotto Operators Association (GLOA).
What initially started as an argument between Aurelius Awuku and Kizito Bayuo, counsel for the GLOA and NLA, respectively, almost degenerated into personal attacks.
It all began when Mr. Awuku drew the attention of then presiding judge, Mr K.A. Ofori-Atta to the fact that the case before him was not properly laid as required by law.
He explained that the case was before another judge, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, as at the last adjourned date. “We just heard that the matter is before you.
My clients are not aware of how the case was brought before you”, he said.
Mr Awuku argued that there was nothing on record indicating that the case had been transferred from Justice Asante to Justice Ofori-Atta stressing, that “the (court) registrar has no power to transfer case. It's only the Chief Justice” who can do so”.
He said he was not aware of whether or not there had been any such transfer by the Chief Justice, and prayed the court to ensure that due process was followed. “Justice should be seen to be done”.
Alleging that “somebody just made a phone call and the case was brought before Justice Ofori-Atta,” he advised the judge to wash his hands from it (the case) if proper procedure for case transfer is not done.
“I'm prepared to vouch. He said, adding that “there are other matters I do not want to say at the Bar”, Mr Awuku said.
“As far as we are aware, the case is before Court One (Justice Asante). There is no order from the Chief Justice that the case has been transferred to High Court Two (Justice Ofori Atta),” he pointed out.
But Mr.Bayuo, unhappy about the allegations by his colleague retorted: “How much are we getting from this case? What I have in this case is my reputation.”
He described Mr.Awuku's attitude as “most reprehensible” and said, “That's the end of our friendship”. With this, he angrily hit his table with his hands.
Mr. Bayuo said Mr Awuku's action inferred that Justice Ofori-Atta was corrupted. “You should be bold to say he is corrupted.”
The development prompted Justice Ofori-Atta to calm down the nerves of the two lawyers who had otherwise, had cordial relationship. They then apologised for their actions after the court's intervention.
Justice Ofori-Attah condemned the action by the two lawyers noting that it was the first time he had seen and heard them do that, adding “this is not proper,” and warned them not to let that happen again.
On how the case was brought before him, Justice Ofori-Atta said that it was brought to him in his chambers by the Court Registrar in view of the fact that Justice Asante was on his annual leave.
In the case, the GLOA is seeking an interlocutory injunction to stay the execution of a ruling by an Accra Fast Track High Court which outlawed the operations of private lotto in the country.
The GLOA and six others filed for stay of execution of the court's decision pending the determination of an appeal against the ruling, but the court at yesterday's sitting refused to grant the injunction.
Source: Ghanaian Times