Why the OSP wants the Chief Justice to remove judge on Cecilia Dapaah's case
The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has petitioned the Chief Justice to remove a Justice of the High Court, Justice Edward Twum, from all cases involving the OSP, including that of a former Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Cecilia Abena Dapaah.
At yesterday’s hearing, Justice Twum said he received a letter written by the OSP to the Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Araba Sackey Torkornoo, requesting that he recused himself from the case.
In view of the petition, Justice Twum adjourned the case, pending the decision of the Chief Justice on the matter.
The content of the petition by the OSP to the Chief Justice was, however, not revealed in court.
The 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 a minier.
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 yesterday.
However, lawyers for Ms Dapaah threw scorn on the petition by the OSP to the Chief Justice, describing it as a desperate attempt by the anti-graft agency to frustrate its own “ill-fitted” case against the former minister.
“Nevertheless, the inevitable cannot be avoided and there shall be a day of reckoning,” lead counsel for Ms Dapaah, Victoria Barth, said.
Counsel further said it was regrettable that the OSP had taken such a route without even deeming it necessary to notify the legal team of Ms Dapaah.
“It is regrettable that this petition should come so late in the day when no prior indication or complaint has been made regarding your lordship’s capacity, competence or integrity in dealing with this matter,” counsel added.
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.
“If he (OSP) is unsure as to ownership, how did he reach the conclusion that the property is tainted?” the presiding judge queried.
Last Wednesday, 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 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 two househelps of Ms Dapaah and her husband, Daniel Osei Kuffour, at an Accra Circuit Court for allegedly stealing money and items worth millions of Ghana cedis from the couple's residence at Abelemkpe in Accra.