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19.12.2005 Crime & Punishment

Tsikata's application dismissed

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Accra, Dec 19, GNA - An Accra High Court on Monday dismissed an application brought before it by Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation that the Attorney - General could not represent the Chief Justice under the Constitution. Dismissing it, the presiding judge, Mr Justice Ofori Atta, noted that the Supreme Court had dismissed a similar case and that decision was binding on the High Court.
The court awarded six million cedis cost in favour of the Chief Justice.
The Attorney - General (A-G) Mr Ayikoi Otoo, who was jointly sued with the Chief Justice (CJ) in the matter, represented himself and the CJ when the case was called.
Earlier, Mr Tsikata was praying the Court to declare as null and void, a judgment given against him by the Supreme Court on a criminal appeal on November 8, 2004.
Mr B. M. Akpadzi, counsel for Mr Tsikata, argued that the Courts' decision was in contravention of Article 128 (2) of the 1992 Constitution, which provides that: "The Supreme Court shall be duly constituted for its work by not less than five Supreme Court Justices..."
Counsel argued that by virtue of the Constitution, the CJ, being the Head of the Judiciary, is responsible for empanelling the Supreme Court for its work and for the administration of the Judiciary generally.
Counsel submitted that under Article 88 of the 1992 Constitution, the A-G was the principal legal adviser to the Government, and for that matter, was responsible for initiating proceedings on behalf of the State.
Counsel stated, therefore, that for the A-G to represent the CJ, it would mean that the former was acting as the legal adviser of the latter.
Counsel argued that under Articles 125 and 127 of the 1992 Constitution, which provided for the independence of the Judiciary, the A-G could not be the legal adviser to the Government, and at the same time be legal adviser to the head of the Independent Judiciary. Counsel submitted that the A-G's appearance for the CJ meant that there was collusion between the Executive and the Judiciary, in respect, particularly of criminal proceedings against his client.
Counsel, therefore, contended that the representation as the A-G was doing, did not only offend clear constitutional principles, but also undermined natural justice.
Counsel submitted that the Judiciary being independent of the Executive was an essential aspect of democratic governance that must not be compromised in the manner the A-G was seeking to do. In response, Mr Otoo urged the Court to dismiss the application since it was frivolous and without any merit.
He said the Chief Justice was a public officer appointed by the President and any attack on him in the performance of his duty needed to be defended by the Attorney - General on behalf of the State.
According to Mr Otoo, the Supreme court had already set a precedent in a similar case, adding when the case was determined by the Supreme Court, what all other court ought to do was to follow judicial precedent and not to commence proceeding all over again.

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