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Crime & Punishment of Friday, 31 January 2014

Source: The Ghanaian Times

SSNIT unhappy about Aguddey’s absence in court

George Aguddey, the 2004 presidential candidate of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), has since November last year, when an Accra Fast Track High Court started hearing his appeal challenging the judgment of the District Court, has not appeared in court.

The lead counsel of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Baffour Akoto, yesterday complained to the court about the continued absence of Mr. Aguddey and demanded that the court uses its powers to get him before it.

Mr. Akoto argued that Mr. Aguddey’s presence was necessary as the matter was a criminal one.

The District Court, presided over by Mr. Aboagye Tandoh, on September 14, sentenced Aguddey to a three-month imprisonment for failing to pay a total of GH¢2,635,161.90 being his workers’ SSNIT contributions to the Trust.

He, however, filed an appeal at the Accra Fast Track Court challenging the judgment but has since November, last year not shown up in the court for hearing

His counsel, Kwabena Baiden, yesterday told the court presided over by Justice Utter Paul Dery, that his client had been absent from court because he was indisposed.

He supported his claim with a medical report which indicated that Mr. Aguddey should be advised by his doctor to abstain from activities which cause stress.

Mr. Baiden assured the court that Mr. Aguddey would make himself available as soon as he is well.

The judge consented to Mr. Baiden’s plea but stated that since Mr. Aguddey was an appellant, proceedings could continue, even in his absence.

This was after the SSNIT counsel had presented a letter from the Attorney General’s Department permitting the SSNIT legal department to handle the case.

Mr. Akoto told the court that per the letter, SSNIT was formally empowered to defend the state in the matter. Mr. Aguddey, the 2004 CPP presidential candidate filed the appeal at the Fast Track High Court challenging the judgment of the Accra District Court for non-payment of SSNIT contributions totalling GH¢2,635,161.90.

The District Court in November, threw out his application for a stay of execution on its judgment because it lacked substance.

Aguddey subsequen-tly forwarded the same application to the High Court, praying it to halt the judgment, pending the determination of his appeal.

Mr. Aguddey, the Chief Executive of Gocrest Security Company, was last September 14, sentenced to three months imprisonment by the Accra District Court, presided over by Mr. Aboagye Tandoh, for failing to pay his workers SSNIT contributions.

The court further ordered him to pay all his indebtedness in addition to a fine of GH¢6,000 or in default, serve an additional 18 months in jail.

Few minutes after the judgment, Aguddey fell unconscious and was taken to the Accra Police Hospital where he received treatment for a number of days before his lawyer, Kwabena Baiden went to the High Court to attempt to annul his conviction.

His plea was accepted on health grounds, after Aguddey appeared in court in clutches.

A week later, he filed an application for stay of execution at the same district court, but was thrown out. He is now seeking redress at the Fast Track High Court. By Charles Amankwa