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Do the right thing – Supreme Court strikes out Barker-Vormawor’s application

Source The Ghana Report

A five-member panel of the Supreme Court has struck out an application that sought to invoke its jurisdiction over the trial of #FixTheCountry convener Oliver Barker-Vormawor.

The youth activist, who has been in custody since Monday, 14 February, faces a treason felony charge at the Ashaiman District Court.

Mr Barker-Vormawor’s team had run to the apex court regarding a habeas corpus ruling of the Tema High Court, which they said entail a grave miscarriage of justice.

It would be recalled that the team had filed a habeas corpus application for the release of their client, but the Tema High Court turned down their request because the case was already before another court.

A habeas corpus application is used to bring a prisoner or a detainee before the court to determine if the person’s imprisonment or detention is lawful.

However, on Wednesday, 2 March, the apex court struck out the application after lawyers for Baker-Vormawor withdrew it.

This was after the panel questioned why lawyers for the #FixTheCountry Movement campaigner had failed to make an application for bail at the High Court but rather sought its intervention regarding a Habeas Corpus ruling.

“You have an individual’s liberty at stake. You embark on this journey to this court. You want us to interpret this constitution in a mixed application. Your duty is to protect your client’s rights. Your priorities are mixed.

“Is this the time for this intellectual exercise? Should you not be taking a pragmatic approach to help your client,” the panel asked the lawyers.

According to the judges, the paramount objective of the team should be focused on the liberty of their client and not file applications.

Counsel for the accused, Dr Srem Sai, insisted that he was following his client’s instructions, but the court reminded him that as a lawyer, he was to guide his client.

The panel urged the team to do the right thing by going to the High Court for bail.

The court explained that although the constitution grants it the power to give any order, including bail, it would set a bad precedent.

A member of the panel, Justice Kulendi, said the danger was that if the Supreme Court refused his client bail, all other courts might refuse bail.

Commenting on the bail request, a Deputy Attorney General Diana Asonaba Dapaah said the AG’s office might not be opposed to a bail application for the accused.

She said there would not be reasons to oppose bail if it is made in the right forum.

The court was presided over by Justice Jones Dotse, with justices Nene Amegatcher, Prof Nii Ashie Kotey, Gertrude Torkornoo and Yonny Kulendi as members of the panel.

Background

The lawyers had dragged the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and Attorney-General (A-G) to the Supreme Court to challenge the jurisdiction of a district court to preside over the treason felony case against their client.

The applicants are, by their motion, praying the court to exercise its discretion to grant the following reliefs:

1. Make an order of certiorari to issue to the High Court ‘B’, Tema, to bring up to this honourable court to have quashed its ruling dated February 17, 2022, which was given under the hand of His Lordship, the judge, Justice Daniel Mensah, J., refusing to issue a writ of habeas corpus subjiciendum in respect of the detained directed at the respondents, their agents, assigns and workmen howsoever described or styled.

2. Give a true and proper interpretation of whether by sending a person they have restricted, arrested or detained to a court which has no jurisdiction to consider an application for bail in respect of the person who is restricted, arrested or detained, the police have discharged their duty under Article 14(3) of the 1992 Constitution.

3. Issue a writ of habeas corpus subjiciendum in respect of the detained directed at the respondents, their agents, assigns, and workmen howsoever described or styled.

Why Oliver Barker-Vormawor was arrested

The accused was arrested on February 11 by the Tema Regional Police Command following a post he allegedly made on social media to the effect that he would stage a coup himself if Parliament passed the E-Levy Bill.

“The post contained a clear statement of intent with a possible will to execute a coup in his declaration of intent to subvert the constitution of the Republic of Ghana,” the police statement dated 12 February 2022, signed by the Director-General of Public Affairs, DCOP Kwesi Ofori said.

After his post, a section of Ghanaians who found his comments distasteful poured out on social media to call the Ghana Police Service to arrest him.

He was arraigned on Monday, 14 February 2022, and has been on remand since his first Ashaiman District court appearance.

Mr Barker-Vormawor has been charged with treason felony, but he pleaded not guilty.

 

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