Huge judgment debts linked to lack of coordination between police, AG

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Lack of co-ordination between the police and the Attorney General has been linked to the huge judgement debtsThe Sole Commissioner of the Commission on Judgement Debts, Mr Justice Yaw Apau, has identified the lack of coordination between the Ghana Police Service and the Attorney-General’s Department as accounting for the state losing huge sums of money to litigants.

He said the state could avoid the needless judgement debts it paid to individuals and organisations if persons who were supposed to defend the state against such payments were up to their responsibilities.

Mr Justice Apau made this observation at the commission’s sitting yesterday when an accredited representative of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Anthony K. Kokoroko, testified in respect of the wrongful dismissal of Lance Corporal Baba Bukari from the Ghana Police Service.

The commission sought to find out from Mr Kokoroko, who is a legal officer in the Ghana Police Service, what had accounted for the state paying GH¢12,000 to L/Cpl Bukari.

Mr Kokoroko explained that the corporal was dismissed by a service enquiry instituted to bring some disciplinary actions against him for insubordination.

He said L/Cpl Bukari, who was enlisted into the Police Service in June 1986, was transferred to the Seikwa District Police Headquarters in the Brong Ahafo Region in April 2006.

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He explained that the lance corporal complained of accommodation difficulties at the place and further petitioned the IGP on the matter and received assurances that his concerns would be addressed.

According to Mr Kokoroko, instead of reporting to duty while awaiting a response from the IGP, L/Cpl Bukari refused to report for duty, which resulted in a decision to institute a service enquiry into his conduct.

He tendered in evidence the Police Service disciplinary regulation which spells out procedures of disciplinary actions against an offending officer.

He stated that throughout the trial, L/Cpl Bukari failed to appear before the enquiry, in spite of several invitations extended to him to make an appearance to have his side of the issue heard.

As a result of his persistent failure to attend, Mr Kokoroko said, the body went ahead to try him in absentia and he was subsequently dismissed.

The embittered lance corporal, he explained, sued the IGP and the Attorney-General, accusing them of dismissing him wrongfully, for which he secured a court judgement in his favour.

Mr Justice Apau asked why the Attorney-General had failed to defend the state in court and also wondered why there were no witnesses to testify to the case in court which had resulted in the state losing such an amount.

According to the commissioner, the police ought to have been put in the witness box during the trial, pointing out that such laxity pointed to a lack of coordination between the Police Service and the Attorney-General’s Department.

He called for the strengthening of the Legal Department of the Police Service to make it more responsive to the handling of such matters.

Earlier, Mr Kokoroko had responded to questions in respect of a case in which Samuel Adjei, the owner of an Opel Cadet taxi, had been compensated with GH¢4,500 following the auctioning of his car by the police for GH¢20.

The taxi was said to have been involved in an accident and parked at the Nsawam Police Station when it was auctioned because the owner failed to move it from that location.

Adjei sued the IGP and the Attorney-General over the matter and got a court judgement directing the state to compensate him accordingly.

The Chief Director of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Major Mahama Tara (retd), who was the last to appear, tendered documents involving legal services rendered by Messrs Dewey and Leboeuf, an international legal firm, to the government of Ghana.

Sitting continues on July 29, 2013.

By Sebastian Syme & Sarah Mensah