Wednesday, July 28, 2010

AG is wrong - Kulendi

Yoni Kulendi is one of the prominent lawyers in Ghana

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By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday July 28, 2010.
YONI KULENDI, a lawyer says the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Betty Mould Iddrisu exercised her discretion ‘wrongly’ in her bid to prosecute Dr. Charles Yves Wereko-Brobby aka Tarzan and Kwadwo Okyere Mpiani for causing financial loss to the state in the matters of Ghana@50.

He said at the trial yesterday “in this case, the exercise of the Attorney General’s powers under Article 88 of the 1992 Constitution is to say the least arbitrary and should not be endorsed by the court.”

Dr. Wereko-Brobby, a former Chief Executive Officer of the defunct Ghana @50 Secretariat and Mr. Mpiani, former Chief of Staff in the erstwhile NPP administration and also the Chairman of the National Planning Committee for the celebration have been put on trial by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government for the various roles they played during the 50th Independence Anniversary and the 2007 African Union Summit hosted by Ghana.

However, the two NPP stalwarts are saying that the charges preferred against them by the state “is a violation of their constitutional right under Articles 278 (1) (a) and 280 (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) of the 1992 Constitution,” but the state insists the two men have a case to answer in the Ghana @ 50 celebrations.

At their maiden appearance, the two accused persons pleaded not guilty to four counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state and were granted GH¢ 35 million self-recognizance bail.

Concluding his final argument in the application for an order to strike out and dismiss the charges against Mr. Mpiani and Tarzan, in Accra yesterday, Mr. Kulendi said the setting up of the Commission of Enquiry and its subsequent use as a pre-prosecution tool was abandoned as far back as far back as 1969 when the second Republican Constitution was promulgated and the 1992 constitution had even come to make issues much clearer.

He said “under this democratic dispensation, the 1992 Constitution is very clear that the president cannot set up a Commission of Enquiry, ask witnesses to appear before it and after everything the executive arm of government would turn around to mount a prosecution against the witnesses.”

Counsel argued that all those who appeared before the commission to testify as witnesses are immune from prosecution under the constitution in this matter, saying “when you appear before the commission, your right to protection against self incrimination is expressly take away from you and the law guarantees you protection.”

“The applicants participated fully in the Ghana @ 50 Commission sittings and corporated to achieve the objectives of the setting up of the Commission and after all these the state comes again to prosecute them when their protection is guaranteed under the constitution.”

Mr. Kulendi said “after choosing to apply Article 280 of the Constitution which sets up the Commission for the public’s greater interest, the President turns around to instruct the Attorney General to charge the applicants under Article 88 of the same Constitution. This move is arbitrary and capricious use of discretionary power.”

He said the affidavit filed by the state to oppose the application of Mr. Mpiani and Dr. Wereko-Brobby got the issues wrong saying “you mount prosecution based on the Commission’s report and when you are confronted with a protest you try to bring new facts.

The Chief State Attorney, Anthony Gyambiby who is the prosecutor is expected to move a motion opposing the applications filed by Dr. Wereko-Brobby and Mr. Mpiani today.

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