Osafo Boabeng, lawyer for businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome, yesterday had a hectic time justifying his failure to respond to pleadings in the case in which Martin Amidu, a former Attorney General and Minister for Justice, is seeking to orally examine Woyome over the GH¢51.2 million judgement debt paid to him by the state
The lawyer, whose initial intention was to ask the seven-member panel of Supreme Court judges presided over by Justice Sophia Akuffo, for an adjournment, was bombarded with questions from all angles by the judges.
Mr Boabeng had requested the judges to be given “ample time” to respond to some documents filed by Mr. Amidu in December last year “in the interest of justice,” insisting that he was out of the country when the said papers were served on his client.
This infuriated Justice Akuffo who ordered the lawyer to respond to the application, although Woyome's lawyer claimed that he was “handicapped” in responding to the issues raised “on point of law.”
The judge fumed, “We are dealing with the case now! Please resume your seat!”
The judge opined that the response to the issues raised was fundamental and that Osafo needed no special time to respond to the claims, especially when he had squandered the opportunity to do so.
Justice Akuffo said, “We are considering the matter now, don't tell us that (he traveled). Take this matter seriously and don't trifle with us.”
The 'no nonsense' judge retorted, “If you feel handicapped tell us the nature of your handicap…we are unimpressed, we don't take it kindly when lawyers at the Bar who have not lived up to their duties come and dance in court.”
Justice Jones Dotse on his part, said the decision by Mr Osafo Boabeng not to file any response to the case was a gamble, adding that “This is not a place for 'chacha.'”
He averred that Woyome's lawyer had not been candid with the court.
Mr. Amidu said his preliminary objection to the case as filed by David Kwadzo Ametefe, was that decisions, orders or directions of a justice of the Supreme Court – whether sitting alone or not in exercising judicial power – cannot be questioned directly or by any means of camouflage by invoking the original jurisdiction of the court.
He stated that the subject matter for which the writ was issued was by a decision of a single judge pursuant to Article 134 of the Constitution.
Mr. Amidu aka Citizen Vigilante, quoting Article 127 (3) of the Constitution, maintained that no suit could be instituted against a judge who is exercising judicial power.
Citizen Vigilante stated that the writ had made it clear that steps had been taken to seek possible review of the decision of the judge in a motion filed in the court to review the decision of the single judge.
He said David has no locus standi, even under Article 21 to commence the action.
The court adjourned ruling on the matter until February 1, 2017, and ordered Lawyer Osafo Boabeng to file his response on or before January 17.
Woyome, through his counsel, Ametefe, sought to discharge or reverse the ruling by Justice Anin-Yeboah which paves the way for Mr. Amidu to question him (Woyome) over the GH¢51.2 million judgement debt paid to him by the state.
Woyome was also seeking to stay proceedings at the court pending the determination of the instant action, a relief the court, presided over by Justice Anin Yeboah, gave.
In the latest action, Ametefe is seeking a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Articles 2 (1), 128, 130 and 134 of the 1992 Constitution, a single justice of the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to determine matters involving the interpretation of the Constitution.
Woyome's lawyer is also seeking a declaration that the ruling by Justice Anin Yeboah – sitting as a single judge of the Supreme Court – delivered on 16 November, 2016 in the case granting the opportunity to Mr. Amidu to execute the judgement in the case (Martin Alamisi Amidu vrs. the Attorney-General & 2 others) in suit number J7/10/2013, is inconsistent with the provision of the said Articles of the Constitution.
In a related development, Osafo Boabeng has also withdrawn the application to stay proceedings in the matter, a request the court granted and awarded a GH¢5,000 in favour of Mr. Amidu.
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson