The former Chief Executive Officer of Capital Bank William Ato Essien’s chances of his application challenging the dismissal of submission of no case to answer is “very bleak,” according to the Commercial Division of the Accra High Court.
The court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, a Justice of the Court of Appeal sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge ordered Ato Essien to answer to some charges after declining to grant his application for Stay of Proceedings.
The court has held that the state after parading 17 witnesses has succeeded in establishing a prima facie case against Ato Essien and two others to answer to some 23 charges.
However, Ato Essien through his lawyers filed a Stay of Proceedings pending the determination of an appeal at the Court of Appeal.
Ruling on the Application for Stay of Proceedings on Thursday, July 29, 2021, the court declined the application.
“…reading the application together with the affidavit and examine the whole processes the court can only state that the chance of success of the applicant at the appellate Court is very bleak and on that score, I find no justification or compelling reason to grant this application,” the court ruled
Ato Essien’s argument
Moving the motion, lawyer Baffour Gawu Bonsu Ashia argued that, the motion was to pray the court to Stay its Proceedings pending the determination of an appeal against the ruling of the court on July 8.
He argued that, at the conclusion of prosecution’s case, his client (Ato Essien) caused to be filed a submission of no case on June 9, 2021.
But, it was dismissed on July 8 on grounds that the prosecution has succeeded in leading sufficient evidence for which the court invited A1 to open his defence.
To this end, he said, they have filed a notice of appeal on July 22 on behalf of their client which raises serious and fundamental issues involving the courts ruling.
“We are again saying that exceptional circumstances exist in this particular instance reason being that there is a viable chance of success of applicant’s appeal,” he argued.
He contended that the liberty of the accused person is at stake should the trial is allowed to proceed and urged the court to Stay its proceedings.
Chief State Attorney, Marina Appiah Opare, opposed to the application on three grounds that, the appeal has no chance of success, the applicant has not demonstrated exceptional circumstances or special grounds to warrant the grant of the application and should the court grants the application, it will delay the trial.
While relying on all averments filed on July 28 to oppose to the application, the Chief State Attorney argued that the pendency of the applicant appeal is no grounds for grant of stay of proceedings
She contended that the most critical grounds of consideration of court is for the applicant to demonstrate exceptional circumstances to warrant the grant, but failed woefully to do so.
She argued that no fundamental issues have been raised that could be described as exceptional circumstances.
Mrs Opare said, granted without admitting that, the is a viable chance that, the applicant may succeed, such cannot be described as exceptional circumstances.
She also argued that the grant of the application will delay and affect the two other accused persons in the trial.
The presiding judge, Justice Kyei Baffour said “I have read the application for Stay of Proceedings pending the determination of the applicant appeal against the ruling on the submission of no case to answer.
“I have also diligently attended to the affidavit in opposition to this application as well as the Vova Voce (oral) submissions made before me in court.
“It is now settled that for a court to invoke its power to stay its proceeding pending an appeal, an applicant must demonstrate special or exceptional circumstances why a court should stay its proceeding to abide by the determination of his appeal,” the court ruled.
“However, and for this discretion to be exercised in favour of the applicant, he may show that the appeal stands a great chance of success or that the further hearing of the suit on the Criminal case such as this will gravely infringe on his rights.
“A ruling in the submission of no case to answer will be holding that the applicant opens his defence cannot be said to be an infringement of his rights and lead counsel for the applicant posed it simply because the applicant has launched an appeal against such a decision.”
EIB Network’s Court Correspondent Murtala Inusah reports that, Justice Kyei Baffour said, “There is no such infringement of any such rights here.”
The case has been adjourned to October 14, 2021 for Ato Essien to open his defence.