Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, the Greater Accra Regional Minister, yesterday narrowly escaped jail when he popped up in an Accra High Court to purge himself of the contempt of court noose that hung around his neck.
According to Justice Daniel Mensah, in order to ground a conviction, it was key for the court to establish that the said disobedience to the court was intentional and wilful.
In the view of the judge, it was most unfair to convict the minister as well as John Kudalor, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), for contempt although Kwadwo Asante Boateng, aka Kwadwo Baah Asante, had secured a judgement from the court which had not been executed yet.
Justice Mensah stated that the IGP became aware of the order from the court per a letter from the Judicial Secretary but the officer’s failure to carry out the order of the court did not constitute contempt of court.
He argued that the current IGP was not in office when the instant suit was initiated but had indicated his clear intention to obey the order.
On the minister nicknamed “Lion”, the court held that the minister could also not be cited for contempt, although his office was aware of the judgement of the court which required that he played a specific role.
The judge, however, stated that the action of Lion was not intentional and wilful disobedience of the orders of the court and accordingly discharged him of the contempt.
Meanwhile the paper has gathered that plans are afoot to appeal the ruling of the court.
The two appointees were dragged before the court by Kwadwo Baah Asante, a livestock farmer, for failing to execute an order for writ of possession over parcels of land which were a subject of litigation.
The applicant in a 15-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion for committal for contempt argued that the court ought to jail the two for contempt following their inability to execute the judgement he had secured at a High Court in 2013.
He stated that on November 28, 2013, Samuel Boakye-Yiadom, the second deputy judicial secretary, in a letter addressed to the Director-General of the Police Legal Directorate, was asked to detail armed policemen to assist the deputy sheriff officers to execute the court order and instruct the policemen to maintain law and order.
It mentioned that in another letter dated October 1, 2014, DCOP Christian Tetteh Yohuno, the then Greater Accra regional police commander, forwarded a copy of the court order ordering the demolishing of the unauthorised structures to the National Security Coordinator, IGP and Afotey Agbo, advising that “the police have no option than to assist in the execution or else be cited for contempt.”
Kwadwo Baah said even in the face of the lucid and unambiguous terms of the letter, the defendants in flagrant and contemptuous rebuff disregarded the order and no efforts on his part could compel them to effect the order.
The plaintiff contended that the defendants up till date have treated the order of the court with extreme levity and have done nothing whatsoever to assist in its execution.
The statement of claim stated, “The conduct of the defendants clearly and unambiguously amount to an obstruction and interference with the due administration of justice and also brings the time of the court and the judicial process into disrespect and disrepute.”
In an attempt to purge him, Afotey Agbo in a response to the charges in his statement of claim said “coupled with my frequent travels outside the jurisdiction, I was unable to deal with this particular matter because like others, my attention was not drawn to it early.”
He claimed among other things that the said land fell within Katamanso and not Amrahia as the judgement creditor would want the court to believe, adding that it conflicted with Katamanso registered documents.
According to the minister, he and his council strictly scrutinise all applications for police assistance for demolitions.