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Courts treating OSP with hasty dismissiveness, no regard – Kissi Agyebeng

The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has taken on the judiciary for some rulings made with regard to suspected corruption and corruption-related cases being investigated.

According to Kissi Agyebeng, the court is exhibiting some disregard for his office’s powers with what he sees as hasty dismissiveness of its cases.

Speaking at a press conference held in Accra on Wednesday, Mr Agyebeng described the trend as troubling.

He further rubbished arguments made by the court that the OSP breached the law in the handling of these cases.

“We do not force feed cases, we do not force feed our prosecutions. It is our belief that it is not a matter of us going beyond our mandate but rather a case of hasty dismissiveness and lack of regard because if you take the four cases I tabled out over a period of time spanning from July 2022 to Monday, there is a troubling trend.

“In one of the cases, I said a judge injuncted us from arresting a person. Mind you, we were not in court. We had declared the person wanted as a fugitive from justice, there was absolutely no enquiry as to why we believed that the person was a fugitive from justice so it is not as if we breached the law.

“No one asked us why we declared the person wanted. Then we were served with an injunction order that we cannot arrest the person meanwhile we know that in our law no one has the right not to be arrested. You cannot say you are granting a person a right not to be arrested.

“So when we receive judicial decisions like that it makes us assume that we are being prevented from arresting someone who is a fugitive from justice.

“What if we were not investigating corruption? What if the person was a suspected murderer or a suspected armed robber? The person will be running around in the street with an injunction not to be arrested.

“This is not a breach of law by the OSP, this is dismissiveness of his work” Mr. Agyebeng stressed.

The assertion by the Special Prosecutor follows the dismissal of some requests and applications made by the OSP in its fight against corruption.

In July 2022, an Accra High Court dismissed a request by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to freeze the assets of the late Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, popular called Sir John, a former CEO of the Forestry Commission.

This was after the OSP froze all the assets of Sir John as part of investigations into the acquisition of state lands and properties that were contained in his will.

Although the OSP applied to the court for a confirmation of the freezing order, Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe dismissed the case.

Again, an Accra High Court in June ordered the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) not to proceed to execute an arrest warrant against former Presidential staffer, Charles Bissue.

Apart from the execution of the arrest warrant, the court further restrained the OSP from applying for a further arrest warrant or publishing notices declaring Mr Bissue as wanted within the 10-day period that the interim injunction would be in force.

These dismissals were followed by another one involving former Sanitation Minister, Cecilia Dapaah.

In August, the Financial and Economic Division of an Accra High Court ordered the Office of the Special Prosecutor to return all monies seized from the embattled former Sanitation Minister.

The Court orders that this ruling be complied with within seven days.

The Court also said it cannot confirm the freezing of her bank accounts and other properties.

Finally, a High Court in Accra quashed a report by the Office of Special Prosecutor (OSP) that found wrongdoing by two individuals in the Labianca case. The court also awarded costs of GHC 10,000 against the OSP.

The OSP’s report had accused Colonel Kwadwo Damoah, a former Commissioner of the Customs Division at the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), and Joseph Adu Kyei, a former Deputy Commissioner of the Division, of wrongdoing in the case.

The report alleged that the two officials had used their positions to grant favourable tax treatment to Labianca Company, a frozen foods company owned by Council of State member, Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh.

But in its ruling, the High Court said the OSP had exceeded its authority in making the adverse findings.

The court also granted an order of prohibition restraining the OSP from further investigating Damoah and Kyei in connection with the Labianca case.

Reacting to these developments, the OSP emphasised that the court cannot prevent the Office from investigating people.

“A judge is seeking to prohibit investigations, it is unheard of. You may disagree with us with the outcome of our investigation; that is a debate of the law. But no one has a right in Ghana not to be investigated,” Mr. Agyebeng added.

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