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Court Orders BNI To Return Former Minister’s Passport   
 
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15-Sep-2009  
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The Human Rights Court (Fast Track High Court Division) on Tuesday ruled that the Bureau of National Investigations could not continue to withhold the passport of Mr Akwasi Osei-Adjei, former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

This was after it dismissed a motion to halt the execution of its orders made in respect of the release of the passport of the ex-Minister.

Dismissing the motion, the FTHC held that it cannot make its judgement ineffective indicating that if the appeal filed by the state succeeded at the Court of Appeal, the BNI could ask Mr Osei-Adjei to surrender his passport.

The Fast Track High Court presided over by Mr Justice U.P. Dery, on August 15 ordered the Bureau of National Investigations to release the former minister’s passport to him unconditionally.

The BNI seized the ex-minister’s passport, following investigations into the importation of rice from India during his tenure.

Following the order, the state appealed against the court’s ruling and therefore filed an application for stay of execution.

In an application for stay of execution together with its supporting affidavit, Mr Barton Odro, Deputy Attorney General, said their appeal had the chance of succeeding at the Court of Appeal.

He said in a case of that nature, the rights of the state rather than the rights of the ex-minister should be considered.

According to Mr Odro, the ex-minister was being investigated for a matter, which his own affidavits attested to, adding “he has been made aware of all what is going on”.

He said the ex-minister was being investigated following a transaction between Ghana and India over the importation of rice and the former minister travelled to India to meet his former counterpart in India in February this year.

Mr Odro said that visit was captured on the internet with
the ex-minister seen having tete-a-tete with his former Indian colleague.

He contended that such a posture could interfere with state investigations in the said transaction.

According to him, “the people of Ghana need to know what their money was being used for.

“In the interest of criminal justice, we need to keep his passport.”

According to Mr Odro, the passport of the ex-minister did not belong to him but to the State, saying the State could at any point in time demand it.

However, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, who represented the ex-minister, noted that the application was malicious and did not contain any serious points of law.

He said Article 14 of the 1992 Constitution granted every person his or her personal liberty, including the right of movement.

Mr Dame said before the state could curtail the movement of anyone, it should be backed by law and in accordance with Article 21 of the constitution.

He said since May 29, when the state commenced investigations, his client had neither been charged nor cautioned.

Mr Dame admitted that his client travelled to India to meet his former counterpart asking whether his client should be banned from travelling to India “because they are investigating the said transaction”.

He said there was no valid visa in the ex-minister’s passport and demanded that the state should follow due process.
 
 
Source: GNA
 
 

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