Exactly 13 years ago today ( June 18, 2008) legal colossus, Lawyer Tsatsu Tsikata was wrongfully convicted by an Accra High Court of willfully causing financial loss to the state.
On the day of his conviction, Mr. Tsikata’s lawyer was not with him in court -he had travelled and Mr. Tsikata was to bring this to the attention of the court and to seek adjournment. Indeed, the business of the day was to hear a pending application by Tsatsu’s lawyer.
No judgment was scheduled for the day because there were two other pending applications at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Significantly, the application at the Supreme Court was to determine whether or not Valley Farms was commercially viable. Tsatsu was accused of unlawfuly using GNPC ( of which he was Chief Executive Officer) to guarantee a loan for Valley Farms, a cocoa producing company.
The Supreme Court eventually determined in Tsatsu’s favour that Valley Farms was a viable commercial transaction. Infact, the Attorney General himself subsequently admitted at the Supreme Court that Valley Farms was so viable.
This commercial viability admission by the Attorney General was the basis on which Tsatsu’s lawyer applied to the High Court to have that admission factored into the evidence before the trial High Court.
It was also because of the various pending applications that the trial High Court adjourned the case on several occasions so it could complete trial and rule on the substantive matter of Tsatsu causing financial loss to the state.
The SC slated 25th June 2008 to make its ruling on the issue of commercial viability, but the High Court, despite the pending applications and the incomplete trial, decided to convict and sentence Tsatsu to 5 years on each of the 4 counts running concurrently.
The tribulations of Mr. Tsikata at the Nsawam Prisons is one of notorious public knowledge. President Kuffour would later offer Presidential pardon to Mr. Tsikata which he turned down with nobility and dignity- convinced by procedural assurance of the Judicial system. And God! was he so vindicated when on 30th November 2016, the Appeal Court overturned the convictions and sentences of all counts against Tsatsu.
The Legal and political history will also reflect that whilst Tsatsu; on the 18th of June 2008 drove himself to court, content with another adjournment, the state was ready- the Attorney General himself, for the first time since the case started in 2002, appeared with a full set of other legal officers of the AGs Dept.
The court premises was equally besieged with police officers, whilst curious journalists waited for the obvious outcome. The only stranger to the politico-legal spectacle was Tsatsu who was later to be hurled to Nsawam Prisons without his family’s knowledge.
We shall all be encouraged by Tsatsu’s extreme perseverance in the face of adversity. For what he endured, his belief in the legal system never waned- not only by refusing to accept a hypocritical presidential pardon meant to make Kufour look good, the statement he made on the day his conviction was overturned is a legal classic:
“Justice will again be found in the court and all righteous people will support it. I think justice has been found in the court”