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General News of Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Source: GNA

Appeals court grants applications of Bawku Central MP

Accra, Sept. 2, GNA - The Court of Appeal on Wednesday granted two applications filed on behalf of Mr. Adamu Daramani, Member of Parliament for Bawku Central.

The two applications are stay of proceedings and stay of execution of a default judgment pending an appeal. The court further awarded a cost of GH¢2,000 against Mr. Sumaila Biebil, a Bawku cattle farmer.

Mr. Biebil had gone to the High Court to challenge the citizenship of Mr. Daramani during which the court ordered Mr. Daramani to vacate his seat as MP for Bawku Central because he had failed to file his defence in the matter and therefore entered default judgment against him. The MP therefore proceeded to the Court of Appeal with the two applications - stay of proceedings and stay of execution of a default judgment pending an appeal.

The Court of Appeal (CA) panel presided by Mr. Justice Yaw Appau in its ruling noted that there were serious questions of law that needed to be determined in the substantive appeal. The members were Mr. Justice P.K. Gyeasayor and Mr. K.N. Aduama-Osei. According to the Court of Appeal, a grave injustice would be done to the MP if the applications were refused.

It said there was the need to look at whether or not the trial judge at the court below exercised its discretion properly when it set aside the default judgment on the grounds that the MP failed to file his defence. It said the doors of justice should not be shut on the MP because he delayed in filing his defence, adding "this court will not obliterate injustice and all cases must be heard on their merit". It further directed that all proceedings of the court below be halted pending the determination of the substantive appeal. Moving the application and its supporting affidavit, Mr. Yonni Kulendi, the MP's counsel, said before granting stay of execution, the application must have some key components. These are whether or not the appeal raised substantial questions of law and facts; whether or not the MP would suffer irreparable damage and the trial court's jurisdiction over the matter.

Mr. Kulendi said his client had won an election with a clear substantial majority of his people and that his absence in Parliament would deprive his constituents the right of representation in the House.

Dr. Raymond Atugubah, who represented Mr Biebil, opposed the application to stay proceedings saying the judgment of the trial court was valid and should be not be invalidated by a statutory authority. He contended that because the MP had no defence, the court went ahead to exercise its discretion. "The MP had two sets of invitation to file his defence but he failed to do so." He said the issue before the CA was not denunciations of citizenship by the MP but holding of a British passport. The CA is yet to fix a date to hear the substantive appeal filed by the MP. On August 25, a different panel of the Court of Appeal granted the application to re-list the stay of proceedings which was earlier dismissed for want of prosecution. It noted that it was misled by a court bailiff, Mr. Felix Quao Ofori, who said Mr. Daramani's counsel had been served with court processes.