Cecilia Dapaah case: CJ refuses OSP’s petition
The Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo, has refused a petition by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) seeking the removal of Justice Edward Twum as the presiding judge in a case involving a former Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Cecilia Abena Dapaah.
The OSP, yesterday, posted on its X pages, formerly known as Twitter page, that the Chief Justice had refused to accede to the petition.
“By a letter dated October 25, 2023, the Judicial Secretary informed The Special Prosecutor that, the Chief Justice is unable to accede to the Office of the Special Prosecutor’s (OSP) request for his Lordship Justice Edward Twum to be recused and removed from all cases involving the OSP pending before him,’’ the notice by the OSP stated.
On October 12, this year, an Accra High Court, presided over by Justice Twum, was expected to take the plea of Ms Dapaah in a case in which the OSP had accused her of failing to declare her assets during her time as minister.
Aside from that, a second attempt by the OSP to freeze the assets and accounts of Ms Dapaah was also expected to be heard by the same court.
However, the court had to put two court processes on hold following the petition by the OSP to the Chief Justice, seeking the recusal of Justice Twum from all cases filed by the OSP, including that of Cecilia Dapaah.
Justice Twum is the judge presiding over all the cases filed against the former minister by the OSP.
On August 31, Justice Twum dismissed a motion by the OSP seeking to continue to freeze the accounts of Ms Dapaah.
It was the considered view of the court that the OSP could not provide any legal basis to continue to seize the accounts.
He held that the OSP was in doubt about the true ownership of the alleged tainted property found in Ms Dapaah’s house and also failed to convince the court that the alleged tainted property was used in connection with a crime.
Abridgment of time
Again, on October 12, Justice Twum granted an application for abridgment of time filed by Ms Dapaah for the fresh motion by the OSP to freeze her accounts earlier than the expected date.
The application by the OSP was expected to be heard on October 18, but the court decided to hear it earlier (October 12, 2023) after it upheld the application for abridgment of time filed by Ms Dapaah.
In a ruling, Justice Twum held that Ms Dapaah would suffer greater hardship if the application was not heard earlier.
Justice Twum said pursuant to a ruling by the court on August 31 dismissing a first freezing application, the OSP released Ms Dapaah’s funds to her on September 5 but seized them again on the same day.
The OSP, the court said, then filed an application for another freezing order on September 11, served Ms Dapaah on September 20, with a return date for hearing on October 18.
It was the considered view of the court that the long period for the application to be determined would be inimical to Ms Dapaah and cause greater hardship for her as she would be disadvantaged, not knowing her fate regarding her bank accounts.
“In the interest of fairness, justice and expeditious trial, the court grants the application for abridgment of time,” Justice Twum held.
The OSP replied with a certiorari application urging the Supreme Court to quash the ruling by the High Court for abridgment of time.
The OSP commenced investigation on Ms Dapaah for corruption and corruption-related offences following the revelation that she was keeping more than $1 million in her house.
That was after police prosecutors had arraigned the househelps of Ms Dapaah and her husband, Daniel Osei Kuffour, for allegedly stealing money and items worth millions of Ghana cedis from the couple's residence at Abelemkpe in Accra.