Politicians Opt Out Of Court Settlement

James Agalga, one of the counsels for Dr. Edward Mahama, the 2008 flag-bearer of People’s National Convention (PNC), and six other officials of the party who were dragged to court for contempt of court, yesterday informed an Accra High Court that the applicants have opted for an out-of-court settlement. Mr. Aglaga, who held brief for Dr. Raymond Atuguba, lead counsel for the applicants, told the court presided over by Justice Charles Quist that he had met the applicants – Dr. Somtim Tobinga, Ahmed Jatoh and Abu Seidu Baba Gama – who had expressed willingness to settle the contempt issue out of court. The trial judge told Mr. Agalga to file an application to that effect for the matter to be settled by the parties themselves. The applicants, as well as the respondents, Dr. Mahama, Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan, Bernard Monnah, Attik Mohammed, Alhaji Baba Mohammed, Col (rtd) George Luri Bayorbor and Abraham Kaba, were there. The case has been adjourned to June 6, 2011. At the last hearing, counsel for the respondents prayed the court to dismiss the application because it was irregular. According to Dr. Atuguba, from the records of the court, they could not identify who the applicant of the contempt application was. Dr Atuguba, who raised a preliminary objection to the contempt application, explained that the criminal case at the Adjabeng Magistrate Court, from which the contempt application emanated, was titled Dr. Somtim Tobinga, Ahmed Jatoh and Abu Seidu Baba Gama. However, the application had only the name of Dr. Tobinga, while the affidavit in support had jointly been signed by all the three persons. In addition, he said one Hon. David Apasara, whose name did not appear anywhere in the suit at the lower court, had also filed an affidavit in support of the application, noting that for this reason, it was not clear as to who the applicant was. Dr. Atuguba further indicated that assuming, without conceding, that the applicant was Dr. Tobinga, then that would mean that there was no affidavit in support of the contempt case because the affidavit in support was not signed by Dr. Tobinga alone but by the other two as well. “If Dr. Tobinga is the applicant then it would be an irregular affidavit in support of application,” he indicated. In response, counsel for the applicants stated that there was an identifiable applicant in the person of Dr. Tobinga, and that he was acting on behalf of the others, who signed the affidavit in support. The counsel, who was of the view that the motion should be heard because the irregularity could be cured, informed the court that David Apasara had withdrawn his affidavit so they were only relying on the affidavit signed by Dr. Tobinga and the other two. After the two lawyers made their submissions as to why the contempt motion should be heard or not, the judge adjourned the case to May 12, 2011, for ruling. The three applicants, Dr Somtim Tobinga, Ahmed Jatoh and Abu Seidu Baba Gana are praying the court to cite Dr Edward Mahama, Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan, Bernard Monah and Attik Mohammed for contempt of court for flouting a court order. The applicants are further praying the court to also convict Alhaji Baba Mohammed, Col George Luri Bayorbor (rtd) and Abraham Kaba. According to the applicants, the respondents flouted a District Magistrate’s court order which directed Dr Tobinga, his agents and party members, including the respondents, to vacate the PNC party office until the final determination of a case brought against the applicants. In the said case, the applicants are standing trial at the Magistrate Court for allegedly causing damage and stealing. On January 6, 2011, the court directed the applicants and party members to vacate the party office until the final determination of the criminal case. The applicants’ bail was revoked by the court on February 24, 2011, for flouting its order to enter the party office. However, the High Court later quashed that decision after almost two weeks on remand, on grounds that the lower court exceeded its powers. An affidavit in support of the application for committal for contempt deposed to by the three applicants stated, among others, that the respondents flouted the court’s order by forcibly breaking into the party’s office to organise a press conference. According to the applicants, the respondents committed the contemptuous act on January 18, 2011, which was subsequently captured on national television. The affidavit in support further stated that the respondents, who are mostly parties in the criminal case, had knowledge of the January 6, 2011 order and for that reason they had mocked the said order.