Court refusal to grant OSP application to freeze Cecilia Dapaah’s acount justified but…– Kpebu
Private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu has said the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) by failing to provide the court with details of the bank accounts of former Minister of Sanitation Cecilia Abena Dapaah when it filed an application requesting that her accounts be frozen erred.
The OSP, after visiting the houses of the former sanitation minister, found a significant amount of money and filed an application seeking to freeze her accounts.
However, the High Court in Accra on Thursday, August 31, instructed the OSP to return the money within seven days and rescind its August 9 decision to freeze her bank accounts.
In a television discussion programme on Citi TV on Saturday, Mr Kpebu said that the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Adjebeng, should have made the details of the accounts available to the judge in-camera.
He, however, disagreed with the court’s order for the money seized from Madam Dapaah’s apartment to be returned.
“For the seizure, I’m not with the judge, I think he could have done something about it. And not say the money be returned. Notwithstanding, he didn’t go within 7 days, I think that there was enough room, the judge could have confirmed that order. But when it comes to the de-freezing of the account, the judge is spot on, you can’t send a judge a case on an empty sheet for him to fill it for you. What prevented OSP from giving details? It didn’t give details of the account, the money in the account is the volume of transactions and not the account balance. Kissi Adjebeng should have applied to the judge to have an in-camera hearing so that you could show him and tell him that it would jeopardise the investigations if it went out in the public domain.”
He stressed, “Any judge will understand, but where you totally ignore this, and you just say that you are investigating Cecilia Dapaah, so because of that freeze the account, no, it doesn’t work that way. As for the de-freezing, the OSP got it wrong. He should realise that we are all partners in this fight, and so he shouldn’t be hiding information”.
The private legal practitioner advised the Special Prosecutor to reapply instead of filing an appeal.
“What he can do is reapply. Reapplying, he has the highest chances of getting the freezing other than an appeal. On appeal, he can’t bring those statements. It is better to show the judge the statements, so that if the judge refuses to hear the application in camera, then you run to the Supreme Court. You don’t just say once you are investigating, it’s sufficient, no you don’t do that.”
The court last week reversed an order by the OSP to freeze the bank accounts of Dapaah at Société Générale and Prudential Bank.
These orders were made after an application to confirm an order to freeze the bank accounts of the former sanitation minister and seize some monies found in her home was dismissed by the court as without basis.
However, the court dismissed the application on the grounds that it was made out of time.
Dapaah’s lawyers had argued that, in accordance with Section 32(2) of Act 959, such an application must be made within seven days of the seizure order being issued. The court agreed with this argument.
In response to the Court’s order, the OSP in a statement said it respects the directive but disagrees with it because it is erroneous.