The Economic and Financial Crime Court has struck out four out of the five charges the Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu leveled against Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga and a businessman.
The court presided over by Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe granted the request of lawyers of Mahama Ayariga to strike out count 1, 3, 4 and 5 because they are offences that are not within the remit or powers of the Special Prosecutor and same cannot be prosecuted by the Office.
Mahama Ayariga and the second accused person, Kendrick Akwasi Marfo were charged with five counts: Count One, fraudulent evasion of Customs Duties and Taxes Contrary to Section 121 (2) (f) of the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891); Count Two, using public office for private benefit contrary to Section 179C (a) of the Criminal Offences Act 1960 (Act 29); Count Three, fraudulent evasion of Customs Duties and Taxes Contrary to Section 121 (2) (f) of the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891).
The rest are: Count Four, dealing in foreign exchange without license contrary to Section 3 (1) and 29 (1) (a) of the Foreign Exchange Act, 2006 (Act 723); and Count Five, transfer of foreign exchange from Ghana through an unauthorized dealer contrary to Section 15(3) and 29(1) (a) of the Foreign Exchange Act, 2006 (Act 723).
According to the court, the particulars of the offences struck out did not relate to corruption or corruption related offences and are, therefore, not under the remit of the Office of the Special Prosecutor.
Effectively, the second accused person, Kendrick Akwasi Marfo, has been discharged and Mr. Mahama Ayariga has only count two, using public office for private benefit contrary to Section 179C (a) of the Criminal Offences Act 1960 (Act 29), to answer to.
The court however dismissed an application by the Bawku Central MP, Mahama Ayariga, challenging the qualification of Mr. Martin Amidu to bring charges against him.
The affidavit filed last week in support of Mr. Ayariga’s motion by his lawyer Dominic Ayine had argued that Mr. Amidu was not a legitimate holder of the Office of Special Prosecutor of the Republic of Ghana.
Ironically, a pending application at the Supreme Court of the land which has raised similar issues was also filed by Dominic Ayine.
According to the affidavits in support of the motion, Mr Ayariga states that he has been advised by his counsel and verily believes same to be true that the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, who is above 65 years, is not qualified to hold the Office of Special Prosecutor since the holding of that office is in contravention of Article 199(1) and (4) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
The affidavit further explained that Martin Amidu has no capacity in law to append his signature on the charge sheet, the process originating the criminal charges against the applicant (Ayariga).
But the presiding judge indicated that she will not be invited to assume the powers of the Supreme Court and injunct a public office holder while he is still in office.
The qualification or otherwise of Mr. Amidu to hold office as the Special Prosecutor is solely a power reserved for the Apex Court of the land.
“The application stands dismissed and the plea of the accused persons will be taken immediately,” the court asserted.
Meanwhile, Mahama Ayariga has been granted a self-recognizance bail to the tune of 100,000 cedis.