The criminal trial of James Gyakye Quayson, the former MP for Assin North, witnessed a tense exchange between his lead counsel, Tsatsu Tsikata, and the Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, on June 21, 2023.
Tsikata, a renowned Ghanaian academic and lawyer who is also affiliated with the National Democratic Congress (NDC), accused Dame of making prejudicial remarks about the case in a recent interview.
Dame had compared Quayson’s case to that of Adamu Dramani Sakande, a former MP for Bawku Central who was jailed for holding dual citizenship when he contested as an MP.
Tsikata argued that Dame’s comments were unprofessional and prejudicial.
“The supplementary affidavit is indicating, clearly a pattern of behaviour and utterances by an Attorney General who seeks to prejudice criminal matters before the court.
“The statement he made, in reference to Adamu Sakande for instance shows that clearly”, Mr. Tsikata submitted whiles submitting documents to back his claims.
The AG urged the court to reject the said documents arguing that the case in point was a civil matter which had no bearing on the criminal case at hand.
“It contains absolutely unconnected and irrelevant material to the matters before the court. The instant proceedings arise out of a simple criminal trial.
“The affidavit raises matters bothering an already decided Supreme Court matter, comments they claim I made arising out of the Supreme Court ruling.
“That matter is not before the court and has clearly been adjudicated.”
Tsikata disagreed, stressing that Dame’s comments were insulting and needed to be controlled by the courts.
“I have never seen an Attorney General make insulting remarks about a person in this manner. We want this court to control this process such that it is not abused.
“It is our professional obligation to bring it to your attention. When the AG is acting in a manner that is prejudicing the court. We must bring it to your attention.
“Plain propaganda, those comments are just meant to be prejudicial. Mere citizens will be held in contempt if they had said same. If we can’t bring this to your attention. I don’t know what we can do,” he stated.
Dame’s rebuttal came in fast: “I am surprised that in all his years, he does not understand what is relevant. What is the relevance of those comments to the issue at hand on whether the case should be heard on a day-to-day basis or not?”
On the application for Quayson to absent himself on June 23 when the court rules on whether his trial should be suspended till after the June 27 Assin North by-election, Dame asked the court to stick to its June 18 position and threatened that Quayson will be arrested if he fails to show up.
“If he is saying he won’t come, he should refuse to do so and we will ask for a warrant to arrest him”, Mr Dame said.
Mr Tsikata had a brief reply
“Clearly, my lady, this is beneath me, so I won’t respond”. he stated.
The court granted the request for James Quayson to miss proceedings on June 23.
Trial Judge Mary Yanzuh also admitted Tsikata’s evidence citing the grounds of prejudice as raised.
She also urged the lawyers as officers of the court to desist from use of abusive language in their exchanges.
The court on June 23 will also deliver its ruling on whether the case should be put on hold to allow Mr Quayson to campaign on Friday.
He is the NDC’s candidate in the June 27 Asin North by-election that was ocassioned by his removal as MP due to eligibility issues around his candidature prior to the 2020 polls.