20 November 2018

Ghana: IGP Contempt Case - Court Sets Aside Conviction

A high court in Accra yesterday set aside the conviction for contempt of court against Mr. David Asante-Apeatu, the Inspector General of Police (IGP).

In discharging the IGP, the court held that the proceedings and conviction was a nullity as it violated procedures of the high court.

The IGP was on September 25, 2018, committed for contempt for disobeying a court order.

He was subsequently convicted on November 1, following an application for contempt filed against him by two individuals; Mr Samuel Aggrey and Mrs Augustina Gyekye.

The two had gone to court concerning a case that the IGP disobeyed two court orders, dated October 23, 2017, and February 20, 2018, to provide security for an auctioneer to sell a 12-block uncompleted flat at Redco in Madina, which were legally theirs.

However, a deputy Attorney-General, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, asked the court to set aside the conviction on grounds that the trial judge made a serious error in law when he failed to take account that none of the mandatory procedures required by the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2004, C.I.47 for enforcement of judgement for recovery of possession of immovable property had been complied with in the case in question.

Ruling on the appeal, the court said it was minded of its inherent duty to set aside its own orders.

It stated that the failure of the respondent to seek "leave" of court to issue writ of possession with penal notice on the IGP violates order 43 (5) and 43(7) of High Court Civil Procedure.

It is the case of respondent that the failure of the IGP to obey the orders had brought the administration of justice into disrepute.

The presiding judge, Mr Justice Daniel Mensah, took serious view of the conduct of the IGP, and said he must be "sanctioned appropriately".

The judge said "the act of the IGP can appropriately be said to be wilful. The respondent (IGP) has failed to discharge the burden required to avoid a conviction and must, therefore, be committed for contempt of court and sanctioned appropriately".

Mr. Dame also filed an application for stay of execution of the court's decision.

On November 8, the judge allotted 10 minutes each to Mr. Dame and counsel for the applicants Mr. Kwadwo Osei Odame to argue for and against the conviction of the IGP.

The Deputy Attorney General urged the court to declare the process null, void and of no effect because the applicants failed to comply with the procedure of the high court.

He told the court that counsel for applicants does not have licence at the time of filing the process and said that amounted to a breach of the law.

Counsel for applicant opposed to the argument of the state and explained that a lawyer should not be penalised for the administrative lapses of the General Legal Council for issue of licence.

The contempt case against the IGP is the result of a legal dispute that started in 1988 between Redco Ghana Limited, the former owners of the flats, and one Mrs Isabella Odi Aggrey (now deceased).

In 1988, Mrs Aggrey sued Redco Limited for failing to pay an amount owed her.

On February 23, 1993, she won the case at the High Court and the court ordered Redco to pay her the money.

On March 15, 1993, the block of flats were attached, which meant that if Redco failed to pay the money, the court would sell the property to enable Mrs Aggrey to retrieve her money.


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