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SC dismisses Ayawaso West Wuogon seat challenge

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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.

Source: DGN



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