Ghanaians were last Monday left scratching their heads over reports that computer accessories including hard drives have been stolen from about four High courts at the Law Court Complex in Accra.
The affected courts, media reports indicated, include Criminal Court 1, the court hearing the case of a former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni and Seidu Agongo, a businessman. The two are standing trial over allegations of causing financial loss of GH₵ 271.1 million to the state.
All the affected courts are located on the first floor of the complex where the country’s ultra-modern courts facility opened in October 2015.
While the disappearance of the computer accessories may sound shocking, the reality is that dockets have been missing from the country’s courts for a long time. In some cases, litigants appear before the court on judgement days only to be told their case files which had taken years to build had disappeared.
Missing dockets of the past –The Ghana Report memory lane.
September 5, 2007
The docket on a case in which a Kumasi Magistrate Court ordered that the employers of a journalist, Mark Bunde, pay his severance package, was reported missing when he applied for a writ to attach his employers properties.
October 22, 2007
The docket of the case in which Charles Quansah was convicted for killing 34 women went missing from the registries of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. His appeal stalled because the docket could not be found. The docket later resurfaced.
August 16, 2011
The docket on popular hiplife musician Mzbel who was charged with offences including unauthorised parking, resisting arrest and assault on a police officer went missing.
December 20, 2011
The docket on the controversial cocaine-turned-soda case involving DSP Gifty Tehoda was reported missing.
July 7, 2014
Two litigants who turned up at the James Town Magistrate Court in Accra on July 7, 2014 for judgement in their case had to leave in anger and frustration after they were told that the docket on the case was missing.
The case had been in court since February 2012 and had travelled through the process until judgement was due on July 7, but the magistrate had to call the two parties to her chambers to find an amicable solution after the registrar had reported that the docket was nowhere to be found.
In the absence of the docket, the magistrate, Ms Grace Gunugu, prevailed on the parties to reach a consensus on three options — the case starts afresh, the two parties supply their copies of the proceedings for the case to continue or they petition the Chief Justice.
On August 7, this year, The Chronicle reported that Mr Ebenezer Nii Bi Ashitey Adjin Ayi-Bonte, a pensioner had an issue of encroachment concerning his landed property, which case was reported to the Ngleshie Amanfro Police Station in 2014.
However, almost five years down the line, nothing has been done because the docket on the case cannot be traced. Meanwhile, it is alleged that the suspects on this case continue operations illegally.
September 5, 2019
The docket on the alleged ‘missing’ $15 million oil cash meant for the development of communities in the West Cape Three Points Area in the Western Region, has reportedly disappeared.
This is because the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service has replied Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, that it cannot trace the docket.
Mr. Amidu had written to the Director General of the CID demanding information and documents to aid the investigations being done by the Office of the Special Prosecutor on the said missing cash.
Such was the concern about missing dockets that in 2017, the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) expressed serious concern about the rampant incidents of missing dockets at various courts in the country.
These were contained in a Resolution passed at the end of the 2017-2018 conference held by members of the Bar at Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo region in September, and signed by its National President and National Secretary, Benson Nutsukpui and Justin Agbeli Amenuvor.
The association, therefore, urged the Judicial Service to ensure that the registrars of the various courts take steps to effectively monitor movements of dockets and also be proactive in generating temporary dockets, where necessary, to facilitate expeditious determination of cases.