The High Court in Accra has ruled to allow the National Democratic Congress parliamentary candidate for Assin North, James Gyakye Quayson to be absent in court on Friday, June 23, 2023. This follows the adjournment of the sittings to Friday where a ruling will be given on the motion by Quayson for the court to vary its orders to hear the matter on a daily basis.
The two sides on Monday argued out their cases as to whether the matter should be tried daily as ordered by the court from June 20 to June 23 or not.
PRELIMINARY OBJECTION TO SUPPLEMENTARY AFFIDAVIT
But before the arguments, Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame raised a preliminary objection to a supplementary affidavit to the motion.
His objection was on the grounds that the motion was not properly before the court as lawyers of Gyakye Quayson did not seek leave of the court to file the affidavit and the facts adduced in it were not relevant to the case.
According to him, the defence team has made reference to some comments attributed to him which related to the civil aspect of the matter against Gyakye Quayson, comparisons with the Adams Sakande case and some comments made about the Opuni trial which he insisted were not relevant to the criminal case nor the motion for variation.
Tsatsu Tsikata however insisted on the relevance of the facts saying that it seeks to prove a pattern of how the Attorney General has been making prejudicial comments about cases before the courts which in his view are against the ethics of the legal profession.
The judge after considering the arguments adopted the supplementary affidavit indicating the facts were relevant to the issues alleged in the motion and on the failure of the defence team to seek leave of the court before filing the supplementary affidavit, the judge held that the court has the discretion on regulating the filing of processes.
ARGUMENTS FOR MOTION FOR VARIATION
Following this decision, Tsatsu Tsikata moved the application for the variation of the order to sit daily. He insisted that the decision to contest the by-election in Assin North is a national duty and hence the trial should be conducted in a manner that will not impede this obligation. Mr. Tsikata argued that this obligation has been acknowledged by the Supreme Court and in Article 55(13) of the constitution.
He contended that the said article indicates that persons contesting for national elections have the right to conduct their campaigns in accordance with the Constitution. The defence also raised concerns about some comments made by Attorney General Godfred Dame which in their view goes against the presumption that one is innocent until proven guilty.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST MOTION FOR VARIATION
The Attorney General in his response however indicated that there were some misconceptions suggesting that he set the dates for trial. He explained that he only prayed for the case to be heard daily which the court obliged and set the disputed dates of June 21 to June 23.
According to the Attorney General, the adjournment of a criminal case is the discretion of the judge in which the parties have no say. Godfred Dame further argued that granting the instant application will be against fair trial rules provided for in Article 19 which provides for trial within a reasonable time.
He argued that the requirement of daily trials is provided for by the practice directions of the court and any other decision will be against Gyakye Quayson’s right to a fair trial. He also argued that it will be discriminatory. Godfred Yeboah Dame also debunked claims that the election is a national duty.
ADJOURNMENT FOR RULING
The judge after hearing the arguments deferred the ruling to Friday, June 23 while allowing a prayer by the accused to be absent on the next adjourned date.