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Ato Forson, Jakpa Want Judge Removed4 min read

Ato Forson, Jakpa Want Judge Removed<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">4</span> min read</span>


Minority Leader and former Deputy Minister of Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, has filed an application asking Justice Afia Serwah Asare- Botwe to recuse herself from presiding over the trial in which he and two others have been charged for allegedly causing €2.37 million financial loss to the state.Richard Jakpa, a private businessman who is also standing trial for same offences and others, has also petitioned the Chief Justice to remove the judge from the trial, alleging bias on her part as a result of an incident which occurred during one of the court’s sittings.

He is alleging bias because the trial judge on June 20, 2023, issued a stern warning to the accused person that it was the last time she would tolerate any disrespect from him and let him go home.

Counsel for Dr. Forson was expected to move the motion asking the judge to recuse herself from the trial, but the case had to be adjourned to July 27 because Justice Asare-Botwe had indicated that it was brought to her attention that Mr. Jakpa had petitioned the Chief Justice asking for her removal from the trial.

The judge said as a result of that petition, nothing new is to happen in the trial until the petition is determined by the Chief Justice.

She, therefore, adjourned the case to July 27, 2023, by which time the Chief Justice may have given a directive regarding the petition.


Dr. Ato Forson, Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director at the Ministry of Health, as well as private businessman, Richard Jakpa, are standing trial for willfully causing financial loss of €2.37 million to the state, through a contract to purchase 200 ambulances for the Ministry of Health, among other charges.

The prosecution, led by the Attorney General and Minster for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame and Director of Public Prosecutions, Yvonne Atakora-Obuobisa, closed its case on February 14, 2023 after calling five witnesses, including the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu to prove its case.

The main issue raised during the prosecution’s case was whether the defective vehicles were purchased in accordance with the purchase agreement approved by Parliament.

The other was whether Dr. Forson was authorised by the substantive Finance Minister or any superior officer to write a letter to the Controller and Accountant General directing the establishment of irrevocable Letters of Credit (LCs) which led to the payments.

An Accra High Court on March 30, 2023, ordered Dr. Forson and two others to open their defence in a trial in which they are accused of purchasing defective vehicles as ambulances for the Ministry of Health.

The court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, a Court of Appeal judge sitting as an additional High Court judge, in a ruling held that the three had a case to answer in the charges of causing financial loss and others levelled against them by the Office of the Attorney General in a deal that saw the state spending €2.37 million on the defective ambulances.

Jakpa/Judge Incident

Dr. Forson opened his defence on June 20 and called Henry Myles Mills, an official of Stanbic Bank, who was being questioned by counsel for Dr. Forson when Mr. Jakpa incurred the wrath of the trial judge.

He had raised his hand indicating that he wanted to use the washroom and the judge initially declined the request but later permitted him to use the washroom within the courtroom facility adjacent the holding cells.

The accused obliged and spent more than five minutes there, and the judge asked his counsel to check on him.

Both the accused and lawyer emerged shortly after that, and the judge asked one of her clerks to hand over a sanitiser to Mr. Jakpa who had taken his seat.

“Mr. Jakpa, I asked them to bring it (sanitiser) to you because I was told there was no soap there,” the judge said.

“You didn’t even want me to go in the first place, now you are giving me a sanitiser,” the businessman replied loudly.

This got Justice Asare-Botwe furious and in putting the accused in his place told him, “This disrespect is the first and last… Nobody should think I will counter such disrespect. This is the last time you will be in contempt of the court and go home. Don’t try me, I won’t hesitate to use my powers if necessary.”

Thomas Aubyn, counsel for the accused rose to his feet and apologised to the court, but the judge was not impressed, indicating that the accused is an adult and did not need another person apologising on his behalf.

The lawyer then approached the accused and urged him to apologise to the court, which he did, but the judge was still not impressed, stating that “You are not sorry. You are an adult who can speak. You do not need someone to tell you to apologise.”

BY Gibril Abdul Razak

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