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Ayariga makes u-turn and reports to court to face Amidu over criminal charges

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
Mahama Ayariga with his lawyer, Godwin Tamakloe
Mahama Ayariga with his lawyer, Godwin Tamakloe

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, after an initial argument not to avail himself in court to face criminal charges in relation to fraudulently evading tax on imported vehicles, reported at the Accra High Court Tuesday afternoon.

Ayariga had argued that apart from Mondays, that Parliament would not sit, he was not going to be available on any other day to face court.

He, however, reneged on his stance after the Accra High Court on Tuesday morning demanded his presence, for him to stand trial.

Accompanying him to the courtroom were a host of Parliamentarians from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) who joined him to show solidarity as he faces the Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu in court over the charge of fraudulently evading tax on imported vehicles.

The MPs that accompanied him to the court included the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Casley Ato Forson, James Agalga, among other MPs.

Graphic Online's court reporter, Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson reported that the court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, directed Ayariga's lawyers to produce him before court by 1pm on Tuesday.

Ayariga has been charged by the Special Prosecutor for using public office for private benefit.

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When the case was called at around 9:30 am Tuesday, six other accused persons were present but Ayariga was missing in action.

Justice Asare-Botwe, enquired from Ayariga’s lawyer, Godwin Tamakloe, where the MP was, to which counsel answered that he was unavailable.

The judge stated that since the case was a criminal trial, it could not proceed without the presence of all the accused persons.

She, therefore, told the lawyers to agree on a time that they could come back to the court with all the accused persons.

The lawyers agreed on 1pm.

Ayariga had said he was not going to be able to honour the court summons by the Office of the Special Prosecutor because Parliament will be sitting on that day.

Mr Ayariga in a letter addressed to the Special Prosecutor (SP), Mr Martin Amidu and dated Sunday, June 2, said he can't honour the Tuesday, June 4 summons and can only be present in court on any other day that does not coincide with Parliamentary sittings.

He further warned that any conduct by the SP which impedes or obstructs his right to Parliament on that day will amount to Contempt of Parliament.

The legislator said he was not enthused about abandoning his parliamentary duties to respond to what he described as an "inappropriately timed invitation".