STOP MY TRIAL Ayariga Tells Court
The embattled National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, has taken another step to avoid being tried for allegedly flouting procurement procedures in the purchase of an ambulance for the Bawku Municipal Assembly.
His lawyers have filed a fresh application for stay of proceedings pending the determination on an appeal against the decision of the trial judge which dismissed his challenge questioning the capacity and qualification of Martin A. B. K. Amidu as the Special Prosecutor.
Mr. Ayariga and six other current and former officials of the Bawku Municipal Assembly were hauled before an Accra High Court by the Special Prosecutor for offences relating to the purchase of an ambulance.
His lawyer, Godwin Tamakloe, had filed an application to strike out the charge sheet on the grounds that Mr. Amidu is not qualified to occupy the office due to his age.
The application was dismissed by the court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe, on the grounds that Mr. Amidu was duly sworn in by the President as the Special Prosecutor and he would continue to remain at post until the Supreme Court decides otherwise.
The NDC MP had tried but failed to use parliamentary privileges (Article 118) which, according to him, does not allow him to be dragged to court while on parliamentary duty.
He is now banking his hopes on the Court of Appeal to avoid standing trial for the offences for which he pleaded not guilty and was granted GH¢100,000 self-recognizance bail.
Moving his application, his lawyer told the court that their appeal raises ‘constitutional issues’ which relate to the enforcement of the “supreme laws of the country.”
He said the determination of the appeal would bring the entire case brought against Mr. Ayariga to an end and prayed the court to stay the proceedings.
The Office of the Special Prosecutor represented by Michael Baafi opposed the application saying it does not raise any exceptional circumstance warranting the trial to be stopped.
He said there is already a suit before the Supreme Court challenging the capacity of Mr. Amidu and should the apex court hold that Mr. Amidu is not qualified to occupy the office, it would make consequential orders which will affect the instant criminal trial.
He added that Mr. Ayariga did not indicate in his application that they had asked the Court of Appeal to refer the matter to the Supreme Court as the appellate cannot pronounce on a matter which is already before the highest court of the land.
Mr. Baafi also suggested that the application is just a rehash of the earlier application to strike out the charge sheet which was dismissed by the court.
The presiding judge, Justice Botwe, adjourned the matter to July 31 to give her ruling.
Meanwhile, the court has also adjourned the other case involving Mr. Ayariga in which he has been accused of allegations of evading tax by using parliamentary privileges in importing three Toyota V8 vehicles into the country to July 24.
The court momentarily discharged him after the prosecution withdrew their old charge sheet to replace it with another one which enjoins one Kenderick Akwasi Marfo to the case.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak& Rhodaline King