The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Mr. Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, has pleaded not guilty to contempt of court.
Mr. Agyapong who allegedly scandalized the court by describing a High Court judge with unprintable words pleaded not guilty to contempt after he was charged for scandalizing the court and bringing its name into disrepute.
With his hands behind his back, and wearing a white top with black trousers and glasses to match, the MP said “not guilty”
The MP took the stand to give his plea after numerous attempts by his legal team for the case to be adjourned, reports Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson, Graphic Online’s court reporter.
Lead counsel for Mr Agyapong, Mr Kwame Gyan, urged the court to halt the case on numerous occasions by giving many reasons to buttress his arguments.
First, he argued that his client had petitioned the Chief Justice over an alleged case of bias on the part of the presiding judge, Justice Amos Wuntah Wuni, and has also filed a judicial review application at the Supreme Court challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.
Counsel further argued that his client had further filed an application for stay of proceedings pending the determination of the case at the Supreme Court
He, therefore, argued that it would be in the interest of justice for the case to be halted for all the three issues he argued to be resolved first, Graphic Online’s Hawkson reported.
Justice Wuni, however, ruled on all the submissions made by counsel and held that nothing prevented the court from proceeding with the matter.
On the issue of the stay of proceedings, he held that the filing of a stay of proceedings did not automatically mean a case should be halted.
This, he said, had been the position of the law as held by the Supreme Court.
With regard to the judicial review application, Justice Wuni held that unless the Supreme Court orders him that he had no jurisdiction, he was not bound by any law to halt the case.
On the issue of the petition to the Chief Justice, he ruled that he had already made his reply to the Chief Justice and therefore unless a directive from the Chief Justice, nothing stopped him from going ahead.
“Honourable Kennedy Ohene Agyapong step forward and answer the charge against you” he held, Graphic Online’s Ebo Hawkson reported.
All other attempts by Mr Gyan to have the case adjourned proved futile as the presiding judge insisted that no law prevented him from continuing with proceedings.
Mr Agyapong then took the stand and pleaded not guilty .
The video which also showed the alleged contemptuous comments made by the MP was also played in court.
Hearing continues on Monday, September 28, 2020 for the MP to present his defence and subsequently for the court to give its ruling.
Mr Agyapong’s alleged comments were made in connection with a land matter in which Susan Bandoh and Christopher Akuetteh Kotei had sued him (Kennedy Agyapong), Ibrahim Jaja, Nana Yaw Duodu aka Sledge and the Inspector General of Police.
While the case was still at the Land Division of the High Court (Land Court 12), the MP allegedly scandalised the court on a programme aired on Net2 TV and Oman FM on September 2, this year.
A court order signed on September 9, by Justice Wuni said, “I hereby summon the said Kennedy Ohene Agyapong per a warrant issued under my hand and seal to appear before the High Court (Land Court 12) on Monday, September 14, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. to show cause why he should not be severely punished for contempt if the matters are proven against him to the satisfaction of the court.”
The MP was expected to appear in court on Monday, September 14 to show why he should not be punished for contempt, but he failed to do so.
It came up in court that the court’s bailiff could not serve the MP with the summons order as all efforts by the court including channeling the summons through Parliament to be served on the MP proved futile.
In view of the difficulties mentioned above, Justice Wuni ordered that the summons be served on the MP through substituted service, a method of service allowed by law if personal service was proving problematic.
The MP on September 17 asked the Supreme Court to stop contempt proceedings against him by an Accra High Court.
Lawyers for the MP filed a judicial review application at the apex court, barely 24 hours after he was supposed to appear before the High Court and explain why he should not be punished for allegedly describing the judge as “stupid.”
The MP wants the Supreme Court to prohibit the High Court from hearing the contempt case and also quash the order of summons for him to appear before the court on the basis that the particular court (Land Court 12) that summoned him had no jurisdiction to do so.
In his affidavit in support, the MP avers that his comments were not against Justice Amos Wuntah Wuni of Land Court 12 but was rather against a different judge in another matter at Labour Court 2, for which he said had duly apologized.
“The words uttered which I deem uncomplimentary and I have since apologized were not directed at the Court, presided over by His Lordship Amos Wuntah Wuni, the Court is not seized with jurisdiction to order the applicant to appear and to answer why he should not be severely punished for contempt of court,” the MP said in his affidavit in support.