An Accra High Court, presided over by Charles Gyamfi Danquah, says there is no evidence on records that the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, had been served with a contempt process filed by the National Cathedral Board of Trustees Secretary, Rev. Victor Kusi Boateng alias Kwabena Adu Gyenfi.
Rev Kusi Boateng filed a defamation suit against Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa by applying to the Accra High Court to restrain him from further publishing his personal data on social media and a Committal of Contempt.
According to the court, it is incumbent on the applicant to ensure that all the necessary legal steps are taken to serve the respondent (Okudzetu) for the contempt issue.
The court, therefore, before adjourning the case yesterday, stated that “from the records before this court, the respondent has not been served with any contempt procedure, and the court has also not made any order for such process.
“What learned Counsel for the respondent procured, either from social media or from learned Counsel for the applicant cannot be taken as service of the contempt processes. For this reason, all the necessary legal steps should be taken to serve the respondent for the contempt issue.”
The court was informed by Counsel for the applicant that the motion was an Application for a Committal of Contempt.
Mr. Kusi’s legal Counsel told the court that although Okudzeto Ablakwa had not been served, he had responded to same in respect of the contempt application.
However, the Counsel noted that in the respondent’s purported response to the contempt application, he stated categorically that he was responding to the contempt application, though he has not been served, but had seen same on social media.
Meanwhile, he said the application required personal service, thereby describing it as unconstitutional, as it was only proper that personal service for the application of contempt was effected on the respondent.
The Counsel continued that the danger was that, if there was no proof of service of the contempt application on the respondent, and the respondent says what he saw on social media may not be the true copies of what was on the docket, “then we find ourselves in a quagmire.”
“My submission is such that … if the respondent is now minded to waive personal service, then the appropriate thing is for him to go to the Registry of the court, pick a copy of what is on the court’s docket, so that he does not respond to what he has seen on social media, and then we can come back and do business if we indeed have to proceed with this matter, so that your record will be sanitised,” the Counsel argued.
The Counsel further stated that in the respondent’s purported response, he referred to the application as the purported applicant simply because he claimed he had not been served, “so, to avoid all of these, I believe it is better he is served, so we can proceed.”
Counsel for the respondent, Thaddeus Sory, counter-argued that in relation to serving Okudzeto Ablakwa, he would have thought that Metro TV would have been the best place to serve this.
He continued that the rule on personal service was that the party had the right to waive personal service if the party intended to fight it under ways set out by the court, and the respondent had elected not to do any of them and to waive the requirement on personal service on the application.
Mr. Sory added that it was not correct that the response to the application was based on the social media circulation of the application, and he was quite surprised the applicant made that point, because he requested directly from him copies of that application, and “he obliged me copies through his clerk.”
He stated that the best standards of the bar, which he believed the applicant should do, was for them to send the respondent copies of the filed application at the court.
Furthermore, he said the use of purported in relation to the affidavit, “My learned friend knows what to do. If it is purported, he should apply to set it aside. Now, he also says that the waiver the respondent is talking about relates to the contempt application. I say it is incorrect… and the waiver is by way of unconditional response filed by the respondent …”
Events outside court
Like many cases involving politicians, supporters from all walks of life thronged the court premises to support the MP.
They include party executives of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), MPs and constituents.