Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, October 1, 2015
President John Dramani Mahama wants Ghanaians to ‘keep faith’ with the judiciary in spite of the recent bribery and corruption scandal involving some high-profile judges.
He said on social media platform, Facebook, yesterday that the mind-blowing scandal that has left about 12 High Court and 22 lower court judges battling to save their careers, did not affect the integrity of the judicial system.
“I always supported, and will always support the rule of law and our justice system,” the President, who is currently in the United States for the United Nations General Assembly, said.
“What we uncovered these days is that some people, judges, judicial officers and policemen, seemed to be willing to transgress the principles of a fair justice to their own interest,” he stated.
The President’s post, loaded with sarcasm, read: "Such persons should be subjected to what they, perhaps, denied others: a fair investigation and a fair trial. Sometimes the principles are to be re-learned the hard way, because justice should always be served.
“We must also understand that this is a problem of some people who may or may not be guilty: it’s for the investigators and the judges to decide.
However, this is not a problem of our judicial system as a whole. This is not something to make us lose our faith in the judicial system. On the contrary, the investigations that began these days prove beyond doubt that our justice system is intact and working, served by many people with integrity and determination.
"I urge every one of you to keep faith in the system. Justice will always prevail!”
Nana Addo’s Take
New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo also waded into the much-talked-about scandal when he said at the weekend that it was a ‘sad’ and ‘worrying’ situation for the administration of justice in the country.
Speaking at the maiden edition of Legal Luminaries Platform of the Law Students’ Union of the Faculty of Law of the University of Cape Coast, Nana Akufo-Addo said “it is a sad and worrying time for all of us who have spent our lives promoting the rule of law and I believe it is imperative on us to be careful to handle things in a manner that will keep the dignity of our institutions and restore confidence in the judicial process.”
He said it was imperative that “due process be strictly observed” in the impeachment process, adding that “there should be due process not only to safeguard or satisfy the rights of the judges involved, but also to ensure that wrongdoers are punished and no one, however elevated in society, is seen to be above the law. That is the meaning of equality before the law: that we are all subject to law and nobody should be seen to be above the law.”
The undercover investigations by popular journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas detailing bribery and corruption among judges has become the talk of the town.
Last week, viewers were gripped with awe and disappointment at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) when Anas and his Tiger Eye PI screened the video recordings of how some judges stooped so low to take bribes.
The numerous patrons who thronged the centre expressed shock and bewilderment at how the judges were taking bribes in broad daylight to throw away cases or let criminals off the hook in the almost three-hour video.
They were offered monies between GH¢100 and GH¢15000, some in red cedi notes.
The judges’ official residences were mostly the meeting points and some also took the bribes by the wayside in their official cars or other joints like shopping malls.
In the ensuing debate, some of the incriminated judges believe that they were set up by Anas and his team, citing what they called entrapment clause.
According to a statement issued by the judiciary, the judges who have been exposed by Anas’ undercover operations for allegedly taking bribes include Justices John Ajet-Nasam, Paul Uuter Dery, Kofi Essel Mensah, Charles Quist and Ernest Obimpeh.
The rest are Justices Mustapha Habib Logoh, Gilbert Ayisi-Addo, popularly called Saddam, Frank Opoku, Ivy Heward Mills and Kwame Ohene Essel.
However, two out of the twelve justices - Yaw Ansu-Gyeabour and Mohammed Iddrisu - are said to have already retired before Anas made the investigative report available.
The names of some of the suspended 22 lower court judges have been given as Florence K. Ninepence Otoo, Alex Obeng Asante, Emmanuel K. Sunu, Benjamin Y. Osei, Baptiste Kodwo Filson, Issac Akwetey, Albert Zoogah, Courage Ofori Afriyie and Seyram Tsatsu Yao Azumah, all of the Circuit Court.
The Magistrates are William Baffoe, Michael Boamah Gyamfi, Paul K. Alhassan, Stephen Asuure, Kaakyire Atta Owusu, Alfred K.A Mensah, Frank Kingsley Oppong, Samuel Ahaibor, Isaac K. Amoah and Jacob Amponsah.
The police administration is also initiating investigations into the conduct of seven of their officers, mostly prosecutors, who were also captured taking bribes in the Anas video.
They were said to have solicited various sums of money to free criminals standing trial for rape, robbery, dealing in narcotics, murder and defilement.
The policemen, stationed at the Takoradi, Cape Coast, Odumase Krobo, Aflao, Mpraeso and Akropong circuit courts, were captured on video allegedly soliciting various sums between GH¢100 and GH¢1,000.
The police prosecutors captured on the video include Seth Ahelegbe, a prosecutor based in Takoradi in the Western Region; Inspector Anku, a police prosecutor at Somanya court; Apronti of Cape Coast circuit court; Balla, a prosecutor at Mpraeso in the Eastern Region; a prosecutor from Akropong court, also in the Eastern Region; a woman yet to be named, from Cape Coast court; and Appiah, a prosecutor at the Odumase Krobo court.