By C. Winnie Saywah- Jimmy
The full bench of the Supreme Court will not be sitting on the appeal hearing to reach a determination in the ‘Angel Togba’ Murder trial because Associate Justice Philip Banks who served as Justice Minister then has already recused himself; however, the legal team representing defendant, Hans Williams and fiancée Mardea Paykue, has commenced their side of the argument leaving behind important legal papers.
The Solicitor General, Betty Lamin-Blamo also recused herself from arguing in the matter because she served as one of the counsels for the defendants at the start of the case in the lower court before her appointment. The hearing which was supposed to be entertained by the high court was dismissed and rescheduled for another date subject to a call because Chief Justice Francis Korkpor is expected out of the country today to attend an important matter and three justices hearing an appeal and one against the opinion or absent determines no quorum.
The appellant/defendants’ legal representation which requested the court two hours for argument slipped when it gave notice to the court that it was arguing from its amended brief of November 14, 2013 when infact it had earlier filed an amended brief. The court reminded the legal team that not more than one brief is allowed by law to be filed in a hearing.
Cllr. Musa Dean on the opening of the defense’s argument attempted checking in the volumes of legal materials that were exposed on their desk but not one of the members on that legal side took along a copy of the amendment from which they had prayed to base their argument.
To make situation worst, prosecution told the court that it is yet to see a copy of the document in question therefore to make the case transparent, the bench requested to see a copy for the receipt that a copy of the said document was served on the appellee/prosecution and again, Cllr. Dean informed the court that he was expecting that the issue would have been raised therefore he did not take along the receipt.
The defense waived their rights for argument since they had erred and their presence before the court in the absence of the said instrument would have been termed as a ‘waste of the court’s time’ but when the prosecution took their stand, it prayed the court to grant continuance for the hearing so that the defense team could put their papers together for argument.
Chief Justice Korkpor said the court is not interested in any side of a trial but informed the appellant that the burden of proof is upon them to demonstrate before the bench that indeed the lower court’s judgment should be squashed and overturned in its favor.
The Chief Justice told the spectators as well as the party litigants how those were some of the instances wherein the public classifies the Judiciary as having a non transparent system and that justice is delayed and or denied because they do not see what goes on from the inside adding, “Too many things happen. Today we are postponing this matter and we already have one justice recusing himself. Tomorrow I will be leaving and if the case is assigned there can be no quorum.”
Meanwhile, the defense counsel’s have denied having knowledge about the legal papers filed to the ECOWAS Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria in which their clients are libel as plaintiffs. Cllr. Dean, when questioned by the high court about the document said, “It is not to my knowledge, your Honor.”
Many legal pundits see this as putting the matter in ‘harm’s way’ on the part of the defense team whose clients have informed the ECOWAS Court among other things that their rights have been violated to hearing before an unbiased court or tribunal as enshrined in Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
The legal paper named the plaintiffs’ solicitors as Cllr. Lofen Keneah, Jr and several other lawyers from Wuse Zone 4, Abuja Nigeria.