Court turns down invitation to discharge Woyome, three others
A Fast Track High Court hearing the case of Alfred Agbesi Woyome and three others over payment of the controversial GH¢51.28 million judgment debt on Monday turned down an invitation by the defence to discharge the accused persons if prosecution was not ready for trial to start.
The Court, however, ordered the State to expedite action on the prosecution of the matter, saying it would not allow the State to use it as a remand court.
This is the fourth time that Woyome and three others: Samuel Neequaye-Tetteh, a Chief State Attorney at the Attorney-General’s Department and his wife Gifty Neequaye-Tetteh a businesswoman, and Paul Asimenu, Head of Legal Duties, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, have appeared before the Court.
In a ruling on Monday the court said it was time for the prosecution to decide on what to do instead of appearing before it to say it was investigating the matter.
The Court criticised the situation where accused persons were hurriedly put before court and when they are discharged, are arrested again and put before another court to be remanded in order for the prosecution to buy more time to conclude their investigations.
The Court said it was high time the tax payer knew what their taxes were being used for.
It said as far as it was concerned, in the matter before it, the accused persons had been charged and their pleas taken.
The ruling was given when Ms Cynthia Lamptey, Chief State Attorney and Acting Director for Public Prosecution, informed it that the Police were stilling investigating the matter.
Ms Lamptey reiterated that investigations ought to be extended abroad to have some documents and signatures authenticated.
She, therefore, pleaded for more time to also build the case docket and properly charge the accused persons.
“We pray the Court to be magnanimous to give us more time to complete investigations, evaluate evidence and ascertain whether a case can be made against them … and arraign them properly,” she said.
The defence team, however, objected to the prosecution’s line of arguments, saying if the prosecution was not ready the accused persons should be discharged.
Mr Osafo Buabeng, one of Woyome’s lawyers, said the trial must start once the accused had had their facts and charges read to them and wondered why the State could go to court just because it wanted to beat the 48 hour deadline set by the Constitution.
Mr Jah Josiah, who represented Samuel Neequaye-Tetteh and his wife Gifty, noted that from the submissions made by the prosecution, one could deduce that the action before the Court was premature.
Mr Yonni Kulendi, counsel for Paul Asimenu, said the State had no case based on the conclusion it had drawn from its submissions.
He debunked the assertions of the prosecution that they had come to Court with preferring charges against the accused persons.
Mr Kulendi said: “The State cannot come and throw in the towel to the Court to decide. The subject before court has been thrashed in the middle of complexities. People cannot be put before court and remanded on fanciful allegations otherwise we would be setting a dangerous precedence.”
Woyome, who has been charged with conspiracy and defrauding by false pretences, and corrupting a public officer, has pleaded not guilty.
Asimenu and Neequaye-Tetteh being held for corruption of public officer and abetment of crime, have also denied the charges.
Gifty also denied the charge of abetment of crime.
Woyome has been granted a GH¢20 million cedi bail with three sureties each to be justified. He is to report to the Police twice in a week.
Neequaye-Tetteh and Paul Asimenu were granted GH¢6,000 bail with sureties each to be justified.
The court ordered Gifty to be on her former bail in the sum of GH¢500,000 with a surety because she is a nursing mother, and ordered her to report to the Police every Wednesday and Friday.
All the accused persons are to report at the Police Headquarters twice a week: Mondays and Fridays.
The case has been adjourned to April 30.