Home / News / MAXWELL MENSAH writes: Ghanaians deserve Secured Anti-Corruption System and Lawful Supreme Court

MAXWELL MENSAH writes: Ghanaians deserve Secured Anti-Corruption System and Lawful Supreme Court

Is the Supreme Court’s order to return Cecilia Dapaah’s seized funds unjust and unlawful?

The Supreme Court of Ghana recently ordered the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to return the $590,000 and GH¢2.73 million seized from the former sanitation minister Cecilia Dapaah’s home within 72 hours. The court also reversed an order by the OSP to freeze the bank accounts of Dapaah at Société Générale and Prudential Bank. These orders were made after the OSP applied to confirm the seizure and freezing orders were dismissed by the High Court as without basis.

The Supreme Court’s order is unjust and unlawful for several reasons. First, it undermines the mandate and the authority of the OSP, an independent anti-corruption agency established by the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 Act 959. The OSP can investigate and prosecute corruption and corruption-related offences and seize and freeze tainted properties. The OSP was investigating Dapaah for suspected cases of money laundering and structuring, in collaboration with the FBI.

The investigation was triggered by the reports of a theft case in which monies over $1 million and 300,000 euros were stolen from Dapaah’s home. The OSP had reasonable grounds to believe that the monies and the bank accounts were tainted properties and that it was necessary to exercise the power of seizure and freezing to prevent concealment. Second, the Supreme Court’s order disregards the evidence and the arguments presented by the OSP.

The OSP had filed a certiorari at the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the High Court’s decision, which was based on a technicality. The High Court had dismissed the OSP’s application because it was made out of time, as it was filed 14 days after the seizure order, instead of seven days as required by the OSP
Act. However, the OSP had argued that the seven-day period was not mandatory, but directory, and that the delay was due to administrative challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic. The OSP had also submitted
affidavits and exhibits to prove the existence of a prima facie case against Dapaah, and to justify the seizure and freezing orders. The Supreme Court, however, did not consider these submissions and simply upheld the High Court’s ruling without giving any reasons.
Third, the Supreme Court’s order jeopardizes the fight against corruption and the rule of law in Ghana. The order sends a wrong signal to the public that the OSP is not competent or credible, and that the judiciary is not impartial or independent. The order also emboldens the corrupt and the powerful, who can use their influence and resources to evade justice and accountability. The order also deprives the state of the opportunity to recover the stolen or illicit funds, which could have been used for the development and welfare of the people. The order also contradicts the constitutional principles of probity, accountability, and transparency, which are the pillars of good governance and democracy in Ghana.

Therefore, the Supreme Court’s order to return Cecilia Dapaah’s seized items within 72 hours is unjust and
unlawful, and it should be reversed or reviewed. The OSP should be allowed to continue its investigation
and prosecution of Dapaah and retain the seized and frozen properties until the case is concluded. The
Supreme Court should also explain its rationale and basis for its order, and uphold the integrity and
independence of the judiciary. The people of Ghana deserve a fair and effective anti-corruption system and a just and lawful Supreme Court.


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