A High Court in Accra presided over by Justice Ernest Owusu-Dapaa, was yesterday alarmed how National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Asutifi, Collins Dauda, who is standing trial for causing financial loss to the state, was able to travel to South Africa without his passport.
The MP, who is a former Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, is standing trial for wilfully causing financial loss to the state in the $200 million Saglemi Housing project scandal.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against him, and the court as part of his bail conditions ordered him to deposit his passport with the registrar of the court.
He was supposed to inform the court any time he needed the passport, for the court to decide whether or not to release it to him.
He was, however, absent at the trial yesterday and when the court enquired about his whereabouts, his counsel, Thaddeus Sory, told the court the accused was in South Africa.
He said Alhaji Dauda had received an emergency invitation to attend a pan-African conference in South Africa as part of his parliamentary duties, adding that his absence was not deliberate.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, who was as much surprised as the judge, wondered how the accused whose passport was supposed to be with the court’s registry was able to travel without the passport.
Justice Owusu-Dapaa asked Mr. Sory how his client was able to travel without the passport, and the lawyer indicated that he had filed an application for the release of the accused person’s passport.
Mr. Sory said the notice came to the accused impromptu, and he instructed his counsel to make the application but apparently travel arrangements had been made and was required to leave before the hearing of the application, which was filed on Friday, November 17, 2023.
Mrs. Obuobisa, who was not pleased, said it was not for nothing that the court added as part of the bail conditions that the court would be notified before the accused travelled outside the court’s jurisdiction.
Mr. Sory told the court that Alhaji Dauda would be absent from November 20 to 24, and subsequently withdrew the application.
Meanwhile, the prosecution has opened its case by calling its first witness in the person of Rev. Stephen Yaw Osei, acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Works and Housing.
His witness statement was adopted by the court in spite of objections by the defence lawyers. The case was adjourned to today for the witness to read his statement.
Deputy Attorney General, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, has indicated that the death of Andrew Clocanas, the contractor who executed the Saglemi Housing Project will not affect the prosecution’s case.
Mr. Clocanas, who was standing trial alongside Alhaji Dauda and four others, was found dead in his washroom beneath a shower on Saturday, October 21, 2023, at his Airport Residential apartment.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak