Ablakwa not guilty of contempt — High Court
The Accra High Court has thrown out a contempt case filed against the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, by the Secretary to the Board of Trustees of the National Cathedral, Reverend Victor Kusi-Boateng.
After dismissing the contempt application, the court, presided over by Justice Charles Gyamfi Dankwa, slapped Rev. Kusi-Boateng with a cost of GH¢10, 000 in favour of the MP.
Rev. Kusi-Boateng, who had initially sued Mr Ablakwa for defamation following some allegations against him in relation to the National Cathedral project, filed a contempt application against the legislator.
In the contempt application, Rev. Kusi-Boateng accused the MP of refusing to be served with the defamation suit processes and kicking the documents when a court bailiff attempted to serve him.
It was said that when the court bailiff attempted to serve Mr Ablakwa on the premises of Metro TV on February 3, 2023, he rejected the documents with the explanation that he was on his way to Parliament and, therefore, the bailiff should follow the proper procedure in serving MPs with court processes.
The applicant described the actions of the MP as disrespecting and undermining the court and bringing the administration of justice into disrepute.
However, in a ruling yesterday, the court dismissed the contempt application on the basis that it was flawed with inconsistencies, was irregular and failed to meet the threshold of the law.
Firstly, the court held that the bailiff - Elis Armah, who served the court processes on the MP, was not a recognised officer of the judicial service.
Such a move, the court held was against a directive by the Chief Justice that court processes should be served by official bailiffs of the Judicial Service.
Again, the court said Mr Ablakwa had argued that he was on his way to Parliament and, therefore, the service should be done properly, which was for it to be served on the Clerk of Parliament.
The applicant, the court held, could not convince the court that the MP was not on his way to Parliament when he was served with the court processes
Justice Dankwa further dismissed the application on the basis that there were inconsistencies in the affidavits filed by Rev. Kusi-Boateng and the said bailiff who was supposed to serve the court process.
According to the court, whereas the purported bailiff claimed he put the court process in the MP’s car and the legislator threw it away, Rev. Kusi- Boateng said the process was put at the side of the MP and he kicked it.
“The application for contempt is dismissed as the applicant could not prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Justice Dankwa held.
Mr Ablakwa has petitioned the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate Rev. Kusi-Boateng over an alleged conflict of interest, including possession of multiple identities and other alleged criminal dealings.
The MP alleged that there was a transfer of GH¢2.6 million from the National Cathedral Secretariat to JNS Talent Centre Limited owned by Rev. Kusi-Boateng under a secondary identity - Kwabena Adu Gyamfi.
According to Mr Ablakwa, the petition is seeking to invoke the mandate of CHRAJ under Article 218 of the 1992 Constitution to investigate the “odious conflict of interest” with regard to Rev. Kusi-Boateng’s position on the national cathedral board as he “literally paid his own company a staggering GH¢2.6 million for no work done”.
Rev. Kusi-Boateng, who is also the founder of Power Chapel Worldwide, according to Mr Ablakwa, was the same person as Kwabena Adu Gyamfi who received the GH¢2.6 million from the National Cathedral Board.
Rev. Kusi –Boateng subsequently filed the defamation suit against Mr Ablakwa and further applied for an interim order to prevent the defendant from further commenting on the subject.