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Ato Forson Ambulance trial: Recuse yourself – Judge orders AG Godfred Dame

Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, the High Court Judge presiding over the trial of Minority Leader, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, has ordered the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, to recuse himself from the case.

The judge ordered Dame to recuse himself from the trial, in which Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson and businessman Richard Jakpa are accused of causing financial loss to the state, citing allegations of professional and prosecutorial misconduct.

According to myjoyonline.com, the order of the court was made during the hearing of numerous applications filed by the first accused, Dr. Forson, and the third accused, Richard Jakpa, against the Attorney General on Thursday, June 6, 2024.

The accused persons in their respective applications sought several orders, including an inquiry into the Attorney-General’s conduct based on Jakpa’s claims that the Attorney-General had been contacting him at odd hours.

They also requested a mistrial to terminate the case, a stay of proceedings until the applications were determined, and a motion to strike out charges against Jakpa.

The court declined jurisdiction to order an inquiry and declare a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct and directed Dr. Ato Forson to seek redress from the General Legal Council if he wished to pursue the matter further.

Additionally, the court admitted a telephone recording between Jakpa and the Attorney-General as evidence, overruling the Attorney-General’s objections regarding its admissibility.

The report indicated that the ruling is unprecedented, marking the first time a Ghanaian court has directed an Attorney General to recuse himself from a trial due to misconduct allegations.

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Background:

Richard Jakpa accused the Attorney General, Godfred Dame, of attempting to collude with him to make a case against the Majority Leader.

Jakpa claimed during court proceedings on Thursday, May 23, 2024, that the Attorney General called him at odd hours to get his cooperation.

He made these remarks when Dame accused him of protecting Ato Forson, threatening to reveal more if the Attorney General dared him.

“The AG has on several occasions engaged me at odd hours to help him make a case against A1, and I have evidence for that.

“If he pushes me, I will open Pandora’s box. I don’t understand why the AG would accuse me of defending A1 when I’m here to defend myself,” the third accused is quoted as having said.

At a press conference in Accra, on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, the NDC played a 16-minute audio recording of a phone call conversation between Godfred Dame and Richard Jakpa, on the day the third accused was supposed to testify in court.

In the recording, Dame is heard urging the third accused to testify in a manner that differs from an explanation given to him (Jakpa).

Before the AG’s request, Jakpa explained that Ato Forson had done no wrong with the LCs he signed.

He could be heard telling the Attorney General that the contract was for the purchase of 200 vehicles with four LCs.

“With the security from the government being the LC, the condition precedent… the contract for 200 vehicles in tranches of 50, 50, 50, 50. The contract is one contract for 200 ambulances which has been broken down within the contract. You establish an LC for every 50 tranche. So, you have four LCs for the 200 ambulances,” Jakpa explained.

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Godfred Dame then stated that the third accused should accept his explanation because it wouldn’t cause him any harm.

“For that part, I disagree with you because if you look at the terms of the contract, it is quite clear, and it should not be difficult for you to accept because it doesn’t put you in any problem. You are not the Minister of Health, and you are not the Minister of Finance, so it doesn’t put you in any difficulty,” the Attorney General is heard saying.

However, Jakpa insisted that he could not grant Dame’s request because there were letters that confirmed the arrangement in the contract.

Dame continued to ask Jakpa to accept his position because it would not cause him any problems, but the third accused insisted he was not going to say anything contrary to what he knew as the truth.

The Attorney General is also heard in the recording telling Jakpa to fabricate a medical excuse so that he could travel.

Dr. Ato Forson, a former Deputy Minister for Finance; Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director at the Ministry of Health; and private businessman Richard Jakpa, are standing trial for allegedly wilfully causing financial loss of €2.37 million to the state through a contract to purchase 200 ambulances for the Ministry of Health.”

 

Source: Ghanaweb

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