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General News of Monday, 11 February 2008

Source: Fidelia Achama

Govt Spokesperson on Information's Application Dismissed

AN APPLICATION for stay of execution by the Government Spokesperson on Information, Mrs. Catherine Afeku, in an Accra Commercial Court pending the outcome of an appeal in a case in which she was ordered to pay US $217,000 has been thrown out by Justice Barbara Ackah-Yensu.

In the said case, she and the husband Seth Afeku were found to have persuaded an American couple, Patricia and Bill Gick, to invest in an internet caf?, Polymath Enterprise, with the understanding that they would be made partners.

However, Catherine and her husband failed to render accounts to the investors in spite of attempts by the investors to get them to do so.

Justice Ackah-Yensu, who presided over the substantive case, ordered the Afekus to pay every penny they took from the investors with interest and as well return a Mitsubishi Diamante shipped from the US by Mrs. Gick for her personal use which was still in their possession.

The government spokesperson, however, decided to appeal against the judgment and subsequently filed an application for stay of execution pending the outcome of their appeal, which had been dismissed with no costs awarded.

Mrs. Afeku, throughout the hearing of the matter, had alleged that Mrs. Gick offered to establish Polymath to be used to cater for her disabled son David Thomas, who was desirous of relocating to Africa, and convinced them to leave their lucrative jobs in the United States and return to Africa to cater for David who needed to be attended to 24-hours a day.

Mrs. Gick flew from the US to testify and brought all documents on remittances to Mrs. Afeku as well as monies sent to David for his upkeep which the Afekus claimed were used on David whom they said was blind.

In the course of the trial David came to testify and when he walked into the courtroom unassisted except for the fact that he used spectacles to read, the judge expressed surprise at Mrs. Afeku?s allegation, adding that she would have put her in the dock for lying under oath.

Mrs. Afeku, in her affidavit in support of the motion argued by her lawyer, Mr. Egbert Faibille, stated that her appeal stood a chance of success, noting that the judgment, if not stayed and the appeal was successful, would be nugatory.

She was of the opinion that if judgment was not stayed, she and her husband would suffer irreparable hardship and inconvenience and would be compelled to pay a colossal sum of money to the court or have their properties sold in execution, adding that the amount would be difficult to be retrieved from the Gicks if the appeal went in their favour.

Hubert Sevor of Jan Chambers, counsel for the American couple, however opposed the application by the Afekus on grounds that the court went through a copious documentation and had first-hand evidence in the matter before giving its sound and erudite judgment, so the appeal stood no chance of success.

He was of the opinion that the application was sought to deprive his clients of the fruits of the litigation and lock up the funds which they were entitled to, adding that it was better for effect to be given to a judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction than for it to be suspended awaiting an appeal whose fate was yet to be determined.

According to Mr. Sevor, it took the intervention of the court for judgment to be given in his clients? favour and that they were better placed to pay back the judgment amount in the unlikely event that the appeal went in favour of the Afekus.

In addition, counsel for the investors was of the opinion that if the Afekus really believed they could pay back the judgment amount with the interest and costs and wanted to test the serious questions of law or fact on appeal, they should pay the amount into court pending the determination of the appeal.

He further stated that the Mitsubishi Diamante saloon car with registration no AS 7323W and the documents covering it be placed in the care of the registrar of the court pending the determination of the appeal.

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