Feature Article of Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Columnist: Mensah and Quansah

The Rot in the Judicial Service at Cape Coast ( Part 3)

How Gustav Addington lied on Oath to obtain an Order for Joinder by Ex parte Application at the High Court at Cape Coast?

In part one of the this article we revealed some disturbing developments in the Judicial Service at Cape Coast which we felt inhibit the delivery of a transparent and impartial justice system at the High Court at Cape Coast. Documents and information we have come across lead us to conclude that there is enough evidence to suggest that there is a syndicate of corrupt persons operating within the confines of the Judicial Service at Cape Coast whose aims are to buy and sell justice to the highest bidder at the expense of the poor.
We owe it a duty to our country, to the good people of Ghana and to the Judicial Service of Ghana to expose and indict the few bad people involve in the judicial process who taint the entire Judicial Service of Ghana with their corrupt practices. We believe our revelations will ensure those bad few people are eliminated from the system to ensure judicial corruption are reduced to the barest minimum to help maintained public confidence in the justice delivery system in Ghana. We have consulted widely and are at pain to inform readers that the corrupt court officials operating at the High Court at Cape Coast are no other than a sitting High Court Judge, Mr Justice Alhaji M A Mustapha, Mr Gustav Addington, a Solicitor Advocate at Cape Coast and the Registrar at the High Court at Cape Coast Mr Samuel Agbah Otu.
The Cape Coast trio, including yet to be named persons operate a syndicate from the court premises at Cape Coast who strip clients of cash, pressurize them to go for settlement negotiations in probate cases, resulting in huge cash payments and transfer of assets to third parties to defraud the estates of their unsuspecting clients.
We submit our evidence in support of our claim against the Cape Coast trio by providing a brief background to this case: On the 24 February 2011, Ms Faustina Akua Amponsah aka Nana Nufa Seii from Breman-Asikumah in the Central Region of Ghana filed a writ of summons and an interlocutory injunction at the High Court at Cape Coast restraining John and Emma Hammond from performing the burial and funeral rites of their deceased brother George Kwesi Amoakwa Hammond, a British National of Ghanaian origin who died at his son's residence in Kumasi during on a short visit to Ghana. Ms Amponsah had claimed she is the wife of the deceased and therefore be allowed to take part in the funeral and burial rites of the deceased as a widow.
Before the substantive matter could be heard to ascertain the marital status of Ms Amponsah, the trial judge Mr Justice Mustapha on the 21 March 2011 made an unusual interim ruling in which he ordered the family to perform the burial and funeral rites of the deceased with the full participation of the plaintiff, Ms Amponsah. The ruling if carried out as directed by the trial judge would in effect confirm Ms Amponsah as the legitimate widow of the deceased.
Indeed, Ms Amponsah armed with the said ruling travelled to the United Kingdom to lay claim to the assets of the deceased. She claims in her court papers, which we have sighted, that the Ghana High Court has ruled that she is the lawful wife of the deceased. According to information we have gathered, including a police crime reference number, Ms Amponsah, whilst in the UK broke into some of the deceased's empty properties where she took residence with two of her children from a previous marriage. She then telephoned the Hammond family back in Ghana to go ahead and perform the burial rites of their late brother without her as she was in the UK to take over the affairs of the deceased.
However, unknown to her, the eldest son of the deceased, one Mr Eric Hammond acting as the personal representative of the deceased had applied and in June 2011 been granted letters of administration from the London probate office to administer the estate of his late father.
Ms Amponsah reeling with disappointment, on the 17 August 2011 proceeded in a capacity as the "widow" of the deceased sued Mr Eric Hammond on ex parte application, in his capacity as holder of letters of administration in respect of his late father's estate. The UK High Court granted Ms Amponsah a global freezing order injunction restraining Mr Eric Hammond and his agents from dealing with any part of the estate of the deceased both in the UK and Ghana.
On 24 August 2011, Ms Amponsah through her London agents applied to the UK High Court of Justice, the Family Division and before District Judge Robinson was granted permission to register the ruling of Mr Justice Mustapha as a foreign Judgement.
However, on the 16 November 2011, Mr Eric Hammond successfully applied to the UK High Court and got the registration of the ruling of Mr Justice Mustapha set aside: The reasons given by the learned Judge, Mr Justice Norris were two folds:
• The ruling of 21 March 2011 by Mr Justice Mustapha at the Cape Coast High court was made against John and Emma Hammond and therefore cannot be used against Mr Eric Hammond who is not a party to the ongoing suit E12/22/11 at Cape Coast.
• And in any case, under Administration of Justice Acts of 1920 and 1933 one cannot register a ruling or judgement when there is an Appeal.
On 25 October 2011, Mr Eric Hammond applied to the UK High Court and successfully obtained a variation of the freezing order injunction to enable him as a personal representative to manage his late father's estate pending the determination of the suit against him. The court however ordered that unless by 1 November 2011 Ms Amponsah issue a Claim in the Chancery Division seeking the revocation of the letters of administration and permission to participate in the intestacy of the deceased the freezing order cease to have effect. Ms Amponsah on the 31 October 2011 filed a claim which is pending.
Meanwhile, Ms Amponsah upon her unsuccessful trip to the UK to take over the assets of the deceased, on the 1 December 2011 filed a motion on notice at the High Court at Cape Coast to order the family to perform the burial and funeral rites of the deceased with her full participation as directed in the ruling of Mr Justice Mustapha of 21 March 2012. This we assumed would give her recognition as the widow of the deceased to enable her to go back to the UK to contest in the intestacy of the deceased. Mr Justice Mustapha on the 14 February 2012, granted her the request.
In his ruling of the 14 February 2012, (copy attached) instead of giving concerted account of the evidence, the judge burst straight into a series of extracts from his 21 March 2011 ruling and Ms Amponsah's affidavit. The particular matters which he extracted were in each case directed to showing some unsatisfactory feature of comments made by John Hammond on Ms Amponsah's claim and wrongly imputed dates. For example, the judge in his ruling states that Ms Amponsah obtained her first ex parte injunction on the 15 December 2010. The second occasion was 24 February 2011 when a interim application for injunction was made. But the records show that the first interim injunction was made on 15 December 2010, the second which was a repeat injunction made on the 29 December 2010 and the third on 24 February 2011. The judge omitted the second repeat injunction in an apparent face saving attempt to cover up the fact that the third interim injunction on the 24 February 2011 was an abuse of court process which he, Mr Justice Mustapha ashamedly presided over. The most which the judge said about John and Emma was that their defence was being financed by Eric Hammond, who is the son of the deceased who are not interested in whatever happens to the corpse but are only interested in what they reap from the estate of the deceased. And that John told Ms Amponsah that he does not care if the corpse rots in the mortuary for 30years.
In fact, our investigation revealed that John had told Ms Amponsah that they will not yield to any negotiated settlement as touted in a motion filed by Ms Amponsah on the advice of Gustav Addington. The usual trick by which the Cape Coast trio lure their unsuspecting clients to fraudulently transfer assets in probate cases to third parties. The family response was that if it will take 30 years to have the matter resolved by the courts, so be it. Mr Justice Mustapha stated: "At customary law, the body of the deceased belongs to his family and not to his brothers and children" The erred big time. The deceased was a British National of Ghanaian origin. His remains are subject to English Law and not Ghanaian customary law so this judge is wrong in principle and in practice. The courts of Ghana have no jurisdiction over his remains. The ruling is bogus and will not hold in any court of law except that at Cape Coast. Under the UK law of succession, the remains of the deceased belongs to his wife and where there is no wife, his remain belongs to his children, that is Eric Hammond the holder of letters of administration and the other two siblings. It is fundamental that a defendant is entitled to have a fair trial at the hands of the trial judge. But these aspects of passages in Mr Justice Mustapha's ruling were inappropriate and show a wholly hostile and bias towards the Hammond family.
Information we have gathered shows that the trial judge refused to give a hearing to an Appeal and a notice on motion to set the his ruling of the 14th February aside. The reason he gave was that he had information that the Hammond family had petition the Chief Justice over his bias conduct of the trial and therefore suspended the hearing until the court hears from the Chief Justice. The funeral rites has still not taken place.
Ms Amponsah had filed for a settlement negotiation on the advice of Gusatav Addington asking the court for time to involve the Omanhene and the chiefs of Breman Asikumah to seek settlement by negotiations. The family once again stood their grounds and refused this arrangement as they did not know in what capacity Ms Amponsah was seeking the settlement negotiations.
At a subsequent hearing at the UK High Court in London on the 7 February 2012 legal representatives of Ms Amponsah desperate to rope Mr Eric Hammond into the ongoing suit at Cape Coast, informed the learned Judge Mrs Justice Proundman that there were settlement negotiations going on in Ghana and if a settlement was reached, it would bind Mr Eric Hammond. They also claim that the ongoing suit in Ghana was a representative in nature and that the outcome of the proceedings would be binding on Mr Hammond. As there were no expect evidence of Ghana law in support of the above claims the judge adjourned the hearing to 14 February 2012 for both parties to provide supporting evidence of Ghana law to back the claims.
The plot thickens and the race was now on to join Mr Eric Hammond to the ongoing suit E12/22/11 at Cape Coast before the UK High Court hearing on the 14 February 2012.
On the 10 February 2012 in what appears to be a conspiratory rush to have the vital evidence to support their claim before the hearing on the 14 February 2012, the syndicate set their gargantuan ball in motion. Mr Gustav Addington made an urgent ex party application to Mr Justice Mustapha who have now shown keen interest in the case, to join Mr Hammond as co- defendant to the ongoing suit to the case at Cape Coast. The order was granted and processed on record time by the Registrar and faxed to Ms Amponsah's UK agent. A sworn affidavit in support of the ex party application made by Gustav Addington, a Solicitor of Addington Chambers at cape Coast States that he Gustav Addington "as a despondent and solicitor for Ms Amponsah was well seized of the facts of the matter from his personal knowledge as well as instructions furnished him by the Ms Amponsah" Gustav Addington stated further that Mr Eric Hammond "with the use of the letters of administration granted him by the London probate office Mr Eric Hammond had been able to withdraw huge sums of monies from the bank accounts of the deceased. And that Mr Eric Hammond was in the process of taking steps to sell some of the deceased buildings in London"
Gustav asked the Court to restrained Mr Hammond from the use of the Letters of administration or else the estate of the deceased would be dissipated by the time this matter is finally determined.
On the contrary, information we have so far gathered shows that Mr Eric Hammond has no direct involvement in the management of his late father's estate. The estate is managed under tight UK High Court instructions by Macalister Solicitors LLP. All incomes due to the estate are paid into solicitors client account pending determination of the suit in the UK.
Secondly, there were no cash balances on the deceased bank account which Gustav Addington claimed in his sworn affidavit that Mr Hammond had withdrawn. Our investigation show that all cash balances on the deceased bank accounts were transferred direct to Her Majesty's Revenue Service (HMRS) by the respective banks where the deceased accounts were held as a requirement before the grant of the letters of administration. Information we also have gathered show that Mr Hammond could not have had access to his late father's bank account because the deceased's bank accounts in the UK and Ghana were frozen once the Banks were notified of the deceased's demise.
We therefore ask Gustav Addington : on what evidence did he,Gustav Addington swear on oath that Mr Eric Hammond has withdrawn huge sums of monies from his late father's account? We are at a loss as to how Gustav Addington can confidently swear an oath that Mr Hammond is fraudulently moving monies from his late father's bank account when in fact that was not the case.
We also note that the UK High Court Order of 25 October 2011 permit Mr Eric Hammond to collect rent income due provided all such funds are paid into an estate account which are held by Macalister Solicitors LLP. But for the avoidance of doubt, Mr Hammond gave power of attorney to Macalister Solicitors to manage the estate account on his behalf. He has no direct access to the solicitors client account. We also note that the same Order permits Mr Eric Hammond to make disposition of the estate property with prior consent of the claimant. The dispositions will enable Mr Hammond as the personal representative of the deceased to make mortgage payments, including payment of mortgage arrears, payment of inheritance tax instalments due, make repairs to the properties, make payment of statutory debts and utility bills. All sales proceeds, if any, would be paid into the solicitor's client account which is beyond the reach of Mr Eric Hammond.
We again ask Gustav Addington: on what evidence did he Gustav Addington swear on oath that Mr Eric Hammond was in the process of taking steps to sell some of the deceased buildings in London? We are again at a loss as to how Gustav Addington could make such an allegation on oath knowing that the contents of the said affidavit to be false.
In regard to the above revelations, it is obvious that Mr Gustav Addington adduced dubious evidence on oath, with the implicit knowledge of Mr Justice Mustapha into granting the order for joinder, both knowing the contents of the said affidavit to be false.
At the hearing on the 14 February 2012, the learned judge Mrs Justice Proudman in her ruling stated: " Last Friday, 10 February 2012, he ( Mr Hammond) was joined to the High Court action in Ghana. I am told that was on the Claimant's application..... the application was ex parte so that the defendant has had no say in the matter." She refused to accept a copy of the order for joinder tendered as evidence at the hearing on the day. (She remarked: how can this be? Mr Hammond is here right in front of me. This comment was not captured in her ruling of 14 February 2012).
We are very much aware that the courts have the power to join anyone to a case at anytime, but what was the urgency in granting an order on an ex parte application in a matter that has been going on for almost 12 months, listed 29 times for hearings, and especially when Gustav and Mustapha were aware that both Ms Amponsah and Mr Hammond were in the UK attending a court hearing? It is abundantly clear that the order was granted by ex parte application to adduce evidence of doubtful value to influence the proceedings in the UK High Court.
Our enquiries revealed that Mr Hammond, as we write, has not been served with a notice that he has been joined to the suit E11/12/22 at Cape Coast but we have sighted documents( see attachments) that include his name as a co-defendant. Maybe the Registrar, Mr Otu is in the best position to explain this unusual occurrence. Not surprisingly, three days after the order for joinder was granted, and on the 13 March 2012 whilst Mr Hammond was still in the UK attending the hearings, Gustav Addington issued a motion on notice in the High Court at Cape Coast praying for an order of interlocutory injunction to restrain Eric Hammond - now a co-defendant "by default" to suit E11/12/22- from utilising the letters of administration, which he claimed was surreptitiously procured in London. The matter was listed for hearing before Mr Justice Mustapha on the 17 March 2012 .
In an accompanying affidavit which we have sighted, (copy attached) Mr Addington swore that he had personal knowledge of the matter and again falsely claimed Mr Eric Hammond had withdrawn a huge amount of sums from his father's account and was in the process of disposing his father's proprieties. Gustav Addington cannot deny that he was not aware that Ms Amponsah on the 17 August 2011 obtained a global freezing injunction order in the UK High Court for the same purpose for which he is now asking the Ghana Court to grant. He cannot also deny that as a Solicitor for Ms Amponsah, he had no knowledge that the freezing injunction order was on the 25 October 2011 varied by Mr Justice Mann so that Mr Hammond can manage his father's estate pending determination of the suit in the UK.
We note that the accompanying sworn affidavit in support of the motion by Gustav Addington was fraudulently made and littered with lies. It is again obvious that Mr Gustav Addington by his conduct deceived the court into listing a matter and indeed swore an affidavit in support of the motion knowing the contents of the said affidavit to be false.
By some design, the UK High Court hearing on the14 February coincided with the hearing in Ghana. Ms Amponsah's legal representatives at all material times were monitoring the hearing in Ghana and when no news was coming from Ghana, they asked the judge to adjourn proceedings so that they can receive the decision of the Ghanaian High Court. The judge obliged and adjourned the case to 2pm on the day. Its rather not surprising that when the hearing resumed the trial judge was informed, as she noted in her ruling:" a ruling has been given in Ghana today in the High Court in Ghana disposing of all relevant matters and declaring that the Claimant ( Ms Amponsah) is the widow"..... it is argued that the defendant (Mr Eric Hammond) is bound by the ruling as he is now a party"
We are reliably informed of frantic telephone calls made to the Registrar at Cape Coast to provide an instant transcripts of the hearing as real time evidence. Mrs Justice Proudman noted in her ruling: "I did adjourned until 2pm and asked and, perhaps not surprisingly, the order of the Ghanaian court is not available" However, she noted " it appears from the papers that the ruling today (in Ghana) is on the application for burial" not the determination of Ms Amponsah's marital status. Mr Hammond the learned judge noted has met all the time with a shifting case which makes it difficult for him to put up a logical defence.
We confidently come to the conclusion that Mr Gustav Addington of Addington Chambers at Cape Coast committed perjury in the affidavit in support of the application for the ex parte application and the affidavit in support of the motion on notice, which sought to restrain Mr Eric Hammond from utilising the letters of administration granted by a UK probate Office in June 2011. We leave readers to pass their own judgement.
Next week we will publish further additional evidence in support of our claim that there is a cartel of corrupt officials operating in the Judicial Service at Cape Coast. This syndicate interfere in the judicial process by deviously advising customers they represent in probate cases to go for settlement negotiations with third parties thereby fraudulently defrauding in the estate of unsuspecting clients. Please stay tuned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Source: Jay Mensah and Judith Quansah