Sunday, 23 June

Ato Forson met, pleaded with me to drop ambulance case - AG claims; denies pressuring 3rd accused to implicate minority leader

Godfred Dame - Minister of Justice and Attorney General

Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame has claimed that Minority Leader Cassiel Ato Forson met with him and begged that he drop the ongoing criminal prosecution against him regarding the procurement of some ambulances during the Mahama administration.

This follows a claim by the third accused person, Mr Richard Jakpa, in court on Thursday, 23 May 2024 that the AG repeatedly pressured him to implicate the Minority Leader.

During a heated cross-examination by Dr. Forson’s counsel, Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe warned Mr Jakpa to answer questions directly and stop skirting around. 

In response, Attorney General Dame accused Mr Jakpa of protecting the Minority Leader, sparking a fiery reaction.

Mr Jakpa asserted that the AG had contacted him multiple times, even at odd hours, to build a case against Dr. Forson. 

“The AG has, on several occasions, engaged me at odd hours to help him make a case against A1, and I have evidence for that,” Mr Jakpa fumed. “If he pushes me, I’ll open the Pandora’s box. I don’t understand why the AG accuses me of defending A1 when I’m here to defend myself.”

The courtroom was tense as Mr Jakpa vowed to reveal more if provoked further. 

Dr. Forson appeared visibly shocked and angered by the allegations as the dramatic scene unfolded.

Speaking to the media after the hearing, the National Communications Officer of the National Democratic Congress, Mr Sammy Gyamfi, said: “We have time, without number, explained why we think that Hon Ato Forson is innocent, and that this case is needless. The minority leader has opened his case and closed it. Currently, the 3rd accused is being cross-examined by lawyers for a minority leader who is the first accused.'

“We were all in court to monitor the proceedings, but we were shocked to the marrow when the 3rd accused, under cross-examination, disclosed to the court that the Hon Attorney General has been reaching out to him, calling him over the phone that he has reached out to him and met him in person."

“That the Attorney General has been asking to give false testimony to the court and skew his testimony in such a way that corroborates the AG, against the first accused so that the first accused can be convicted and jailed. He said this in open court," Mr Gyamfi added.

However, a statement from the AG's office on Thursday, said: "For the record, the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice categorically denies the allegations and insinuations of the NDC."

It noted: “The public is entreated to disregard the allegations. The Attorney General remains focused on a zealous prosecution of the case.”

According to the statement, “The Republic has, throughout the trial, relied solely on the record of the impugned transaction, i.e. the purchase of ordinary vans purporting to be ambulances, to sustain its case against the accused persons. This record existed before January 2022 (when the case was commenced) and was duly filed in court by the prosecution before the commencement of the trial."

It continued: “The Republic has never required or desired the cooperation of any of the accused persons in the matter, in which it has already succeeded in establishing a prima facie case against all the accused persons. Neither the Attorney General nor any officer from the Office of the Attorney General has approached any of the accused persons with the view to obtaining evidence from them."

“It is rather the third accused who, by various letters dated 27th April 2023, 16th May 2023, 30th May 2023 and 12th June 2023, has proposed to the Republic through the Attorney General to engage in plea bargaining or plea negotiations. This plea bargaining proposal has, to date, not been accepted by the Attorney General."

“Even though the law on plea bargaining passed by Parliament permits a prosecutor to negotiate with an accused person after a plea proposal has been made, the Attorney General has not engaged the third accused person to give false testimony in the matter."

The statement alleged: “The Attorney General has also come under enormous pressure from all manner of persons for him to discontinue the prosecution of the 1st accused person, Cassiel Ato Forson, but has not yielded. The Attorney General has video evidence of the first accused person, Cassiel Ato Forson, coming to meet him and to plead with him to discontinue the prosecution. This, the Attorney General, has refused to do."

“The Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Justice considers the latest allegation levelled against the Attorney General as part of a grand scheme by the NDC to put more pressure on him to discontinue the prosecution or to divert attention from the real issues regarding the actions of the accused persons which have caused enormous financial loss to the State.”