The Financial Court Division of the Accra High Court presided over by Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe, has today, 17 June 2019 dismissed an application filed by the Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga, in which he challenged the capacity of the Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu to prosecute him on tax evasion charges.
The court directed that the plea of the seven accused persons including Mr Ayariga should be taken.
Mr Ayariga’s lawyers were seeking to challenge the legitimacy of Mr Amidu to prosecute their client arguing that Mr Amidu was above 65 years as of the time he was nominated and approved as Special Prosecutor and, therefore, per Article 199 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, he is not qualified to hold a public office.
But the court said Mr Amidu is legally before the court until the Supreme Court rules otherwise.
Explaining her ruling, Justice Botwe stated that it is certainly not her will to overreach the Supreme Court, hence, nobody should consider any attempt to lead her into doing that.
She added that there are no limitations with regard to prosecution of criminal cases.
Justice Botwe acknowledged the receipt of a letter from the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye with regard to the privileges and immunities of MPs but maintained her stance that the MP was hauled before the court as an accused person rather than a witness, thus, not entitled to such immunities as spelt out by the Speaker’s letter.
Mr Amidu’s suit against Mr Ayariga was filed a few weeks ago. Five charges have been levelled against the lawmaker.
Mr Amidu alleged that Mr Ayariga abused the privileges he enjoyed as an MP by conniving with a private company to secure a loan, import three vehicles from Dubai at cheap prices and failed to pay duties on them under the guise that they were for official duty.