The High Court has approved the application by Former Sanitation Minister, Cecilia Abena Dapaah, for an expedited hearing of the case on the seizure of her money and the freezing of her bank accounts.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) filed an application seeking permission to re-seize money found at the residence of Cecilia Dapaah and her husband and re-freeze her bank accounts.
Ms Dapaah subsequently filed an application pleading with the court to expedite the hearing of the case.
The court, granting her request, has moved the next hearing from October 18 to tomorrow October 12.
The lawyers of Cecilia Dapaah, led by Victoria Barth, argued that the application to expedite the hearing of the case is based on the fact that the delay in hearing the matter is ‘causing undue hardships to the respondents’. They also argued that the application for confirmation is a repeat application hence the Office of the Special Prosecutor will not be “prejudiced by the granting of their application to abridge time.”
The OSP opposed the application, arguing that Cecilia Dapaah and her husband were seeking to prevent them from “responding to their affidavit in opposition to the substantive application for confirmation of freezing and seizure orders.”
Furthermore, lawyers of Madam Dapaah argued that the application for the abridgment of time is further grounded on the failure of the OSP to serve the confirmation application on them earlier.
According to them, even though their client served notice of her decision to waive her right to personal service to the application filed on September 5, it was not served on them until September 20.
The Special Prosecutor’s office argued that the said request was irregular as their process is “an originating notice on motion which is a process that requires personal service.”
But Cecilia Dapaah’s lawyers opposed this view saying “It cannot be correct that a party is not entitled to waive personal service of a process and to say I have instructed a lawyer to receive on my behalf.”
Cecilia Dapaah also grounded her application on an assertion that the confirmation application filed on September 5 is a repeat of an application that was dismissed on August 31.
According to her lawyers, “On August 8, 2023, the respondent applied to the same reliefs as those in their application with the return date of October 18. That earlier application was premised on the same events and information which they seek to rely upon in the second application and that is why I call it a repeat application.”
Lawyers for the OSP indicated that “The substantive application is a fresh process unfettered by any prior considerations. This application is originating from events of September 5 and not on July 24.”
The High Court To Hear Case On October 12 Instead Of October 18
Following these arguments, the court granted the application with slight modifications for the confirmation application to be heard on October 12 instead of the proposed October 18 by the OSP.
The High Court Judge, Justice Eric Twum viewed the timelines for the re-seizure, re-freezing and the return date selected to be unfair. The OSP re-seized the money on September 5, 2023, but made the application six days later.
The process was not served on Cecilia Dapaah and her husband until September 20. The OSP’s team however selected a return date of October 18, more than a month after the processes were filed.
The Judge further noted that the further delay in hearing the matter would be “inimical to the welfare of the applicants.”
The court will therefore hear the case in an expedited manner. Parties to the case are therefore expected to be in court on October 12 in lieu of the October 18 hearing.