Martin Amidu and Mahama Ayariga
Member of Parliament
(MP) for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, has challenged the capacity and
qualification of the Special Prosecutor, Martin ABK Amidu, to investigate him.
In an application
filed at an Accra High Court, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC)
MP contended that the charges levelled against him by the Special Prosecutor do
not fall within the powers conferred on him by parliament; hence he has no
authority to investigate and prosecute him.
Again, the MP contended
that Mr. Amidu is above 65 years and therefore disqualified to hold the Office
of the Special Prosecutor as prescribed by the 1992 Constitution.
The NDC MP was
dragged to court by Martin ABK Amidu over allegations of tax evasion by using parliamentary
privileges to import three Toyota V8 vehicles into the country.
Mr. Ayariga is
alleged to have fraudulently evaded customs duties and taxes in the importation
of the vehicles into the country.
He is also before
the court together with six others over charges relating to the purchase of
some ambulances by the MP.
The MP had tried to
use parliamentary privileges (Article 118) which, according to him, does not
allow him to be dragged to court while on parliamentary duty.
But the presiding
judge made an order which in effect meant that Mr. Ayariga must make himself
available before the court for trial any time the case is supposed to come on.
In her ruling based on
an application filed by his lawyer to that effect, the judge indicated that Mr.
Ayariga was appearing before the court as an accused person and not a witness,
for which reason Article cannot hold.
The case is still at
its preliminary stages, but the MP’s lawyers are making moves to ensure that
the trial does not go beyond that stage.
They have subsequently
filed two separate applications challenging the qualification and capacity of
the Special Prosecutor who initiated the process to haul their client to court.
The court, presided
over by Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe, has not discussed the issue of bail,
as the charges that resulted in the trial are being challenged.
In his application, Mr.
Ayariga averred that the decision by Mr. Amidu to sign the charge sheets before
the court make them a nullity and of no legal effect, as he is not qualified to
occupy the Office of the Special Prosecutor.
He also said that
three out of the five charges – fraudulent evasion of customs duties and taxes,
dealing in foreign exchange without licence and transfer of foreign exchange
from Ghana through an unauthorized dealer – do not fall within the powers of
the Special Prosecutor and cannot be prosecuted by him.
He is also
challenging the powers of Mr. Amidu to investigate and prosecute issues
concerning the public procurement.
The MP is therefore praying
the court to strike out the charges against him.
In opposition, Mr.
Amidu, in an affidavit, described moves by the MP to have the case thrown out
as vexatious and an abuse of the court processes aimed at frustrating his
According to him,
the issue of his qualification to occupy the Office of the Special Prosecutor
is before the Supreme Court and the court pursuant to an application struck out
his name as a party to the suit.
He said the
plaintiff in that suit did not pray the court for an order restraining him from
performing his duties, and hence nothing stops him from going ahead to carry
out his functions as conferred on him.
He further contended
that the high court where the current application is does not have the power to
interpret the constitution to determine whether he is qualified or not, as it
is only the Supreme Court, which is clothed with such powers.
He added that whatever
the outcome of the case at the Supreme Court may be, it’s unlikely to declare
his appointment retroactively as void, as that would render the whole Office of
the Special Prosecutor and all appointees and work done as null and void.
Mr. Amidu concluded
that the charges being challenged by Mr. Ayariga are well within the remit of
The presiding judge ordered both the prosecution and defence to simultaneously file their arguments by 3pm tomorrow for her ruling on Monday 17th July 2019.
By Gibril Abdul Razak
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