Judge recuses himself from former IGP’s defamation suit

BY: Mary Anane-Amponsah
Judge recuses himself from former IGP’s defamation suit

An Accra High Court judge hearing a case between the former Inspector General of Police, Mr David Asante Apeatu, and a television host, Mr Justice Kweku Annan, has recused himself from the matter.

The judge, Justice Ekow Baiden, said he was remitting the case to the Chief Justice for a directive.

At yesterday’s sitting, counsel for the plaintiff, Mr Sammy Darko, filed a notice to have the defamation suit against Mr Annan discontinued.

The trial judge said he had not seen the process to discontinue the matter and, therefore, could not grant the same.

“I have not seen the process so I can’t act on it. I need to see a process, go through it, and make up my mind on it,” he said.

He also announced his decision to recuse himself from the case.

Reasons

Explaining why he was recusing himself, Justice Baiden said at the previous sitting, he had directed the lawyer for the plaintiff — who had requested for a judgment in default of defence — to rather issue a hearing notice on the defendant to appear in court since Mr Annan had failed to answer to issues raised in the defamation suit.

However, the judge said, counsel for the plaintiff was not pleased with the directive, and rather caused a newspaper publication that suggested he was bias.

“There is no way a court of law will condemn a person without giving that person adequate opportunity to be heard,” he said.

Justice Baiden said it appeared that this fundamental principle in court was alien to Mr Darko.

“I reassure counsel for the plaintiff that my directive was not tainted with any form of bias and that the right to be heard is embodied in serving of hearing notice,” he said.

Cause of action

Mr Asante Apeatu, who was in court, sued Justice Annan in July for defamation for accusing him of being a fence for criminals in Nigeria and Ghana, and for also alleging that the former IGP was working in cahoots with criminals and was on the payroll of top criminals in Ghana during a broadcast on the Net 2 television station.

Mr Annan is reported to have evaded service continuously, for which reason lawyers resorted to substituted service where it was published in the newspapers and also posted at his office.

But after filing for an appearance, he failed to show up in court, compelling the counsel for the plaintiff to subsequently apply for a judgment in default of defence.

When counsel for the plaintiff informed the court of his notice to discontinue the matter, counsel for the defendant, Mr Rafael Adjapong, argued that the notice was not a proper legal process because the writ was not endorsed by a lawyer with a chamber number or license number, to which plaintiff counsel said it was with solicitor's license number.