The trial judge, Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam, who was taught by the late Law professor, led the court to observe a minute’s silence in memory of the late President who passed on at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra at exactly 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday.
It emerged at the court’s sitting that one of Woyome’s lawyers, Mr Sarfo Buabeng, had also been taught by the late President.
A former Minister of Education and Sports, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, who was billed to appear to testify at the trial at the Financial Division of the Fast Track High Court, also sent a message through the prosecution that he was too devastated by Prof Mills’ demise to appear in court.
A Chief State Attorney, Ms Cynthia Lamptey, who conveyed the message, said Mr Osafo-Maafo had called to inform her some few hours before the case was billed for hearing that he was a former classmate and good friend of the late President and, for that reason, he was not emotionally ready to give evidence in Woyome’s trial.
Woyome, who wore dark clothing in court Wednesday, had pleaded not guilty to two counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state and defrauding the state and is currently on a GH¢20 million bail.
Following the conveyance of Mr Osafo-Maafo’s message to the court, the trial judge and members of the bar also paid glowing tribute to the late President.
Justice Ajet-Nasam recounted that he had once attended a lecture on legal accountancy but had not understood a single point during the lecture.
Faced with the difficulty of failing the paper, he said, he had approached late Prof Mills, who took him through the lecture point by point, as a result of which he scored an A in that particular paper.
“He was my teacher and I mourn him,” Justice Ajet-Nasam sadly said, another lawyer told the court that the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) had told lawyers not to work, all in memory of the late President.
But the President of the GBA, Mr Frank W. K. Beecham, in an interview, denied that assertion.
“We all mourn the demise of the President but there is no directive that no lawyer should go to court. I am just coming from court,” he said.
Later in a telephone interview with graphic.com.gh,, Mr Osafo-Maafo, who is a former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said, “I was with him for seven years in Achimota from Form One to Upper Six. We were in Cadbury House. He was a good friend, top-class Arts student and also excellent in sporting activities.”
“His death is a big shock to me,” he stated, and accordingly expressed his heartfelt condolence to Mrs Ernestina Naadu Mills, the late President’s siblings, his extended family and his fellow countrymen.
“He is the father of the nation who spent all his life serving the country. He lectured for 25 years, moved on to serve the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), became the Vice-President and eventually President of the Republic and for that reason we should avoid politics and mourn him appropriately,” the former minister stressed.
The trial of Woyome, which began in February this year, is expected to resume on Monday, July 30, 2012.
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