US$ 5 Million Bribery Allegation; CJ Must Resign Or Step Aside
- Says Lawyer Sosu
Human rights lawyer and Member of Parliament for Madina Constituency, Hon. Francis-Xavier Sosu, has called on the Chief Justice, Anin Yeboah to resign from the office he occupies or step down as the Chairman of the General Council following accusations of bribery leveled against him by a Kumasi-based lawyer, Akwesi Afrifa.
In letter to the Disciplinary Committee of the Ghana Legal Council (GLC) in response to a petition against him by one Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI, Akwesi Afrifa alleged that the chief told him at the end of July 2020 that friends of his who were highly connected politically had taken him to see the Chief Justice who agreed to help him win his case on condition that he drops him (Akwesi Afrifa) as the lawyer handling a case for him and engage Akoto Ampaw Esq in his stead.
“He further informed me that the Chief Justice had demanded a bribe of USD$5,000,000.00 for a successful outcome of his case and that he had already paid USD$500,000.00 to the Chief Justice”, Akwesi Afrifa alleged Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI told him.
Ogyeadom Obranum Kwesi Atta VI on 11th July, 2021 issued a disclaimer in which he said he has never met the Chief Justice nor ever bribed him.
However, Hon Sosu thinks an allegation of this nature though not a direct allegation deserves all the necessary attention. According to him, the President of the Republic would have to pay serious attention to the allegation.
“For the public to continue to hold the judiciary and the high office of the Chief Justice in high esteem there is the need for some firm actions. By the application of law, the Chief Justice is the Chairman of the General Legal Council. This definitely would create serious doubt if he remains in the position whilst investigations into the allegations are done”, the MP argued in a write up posted on his facebook page.
According to him, Section 1 of the Legal Professions Act, 1960 (Act 32) provides for the establishment of the General Legal Council and section (2) provides for the constitution of the Council. He said as set out in the First Schedule to this Act, the Chief Justice is the Chairman of the General Legal Council.
“It is trite law that one cannot be a judge in his own course. Being the one whose name has popped up this this proceedings, the Chief Justice must do the needful. Justice, we say, must not just be done but must be seen to be done. There is no way the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council will be impartial in their work when the Chairman remains at post.
In any event, it is the Chief Justice as Chairman of the General Legal Council that will chair to approve the final decision of the Disciplinary Committee. That being the case, justice and fairness can only be done if the Chief Justice steps aside. Even if the allegation is false there must be independent investigation to ascertain the falsity of the allegation. Given the laws cited above, we can only ensure integrity of the judiciary if such allegations are taken seriously and dealt with. We cannot maintain public confidence in the judiciary when such serious allegations are swept under the carpet and no decisive steps taken against them”, he argued.
According to the Madina MP, the allegation is a serious public interest matter and how it is dealt with will set a new standard for dealing with judicial corruption.
“If it were any other arm or organ of state, whether Parliament or the Executive, the matter would not die merely because the one who was alleged to have made those statements came to deny them. What would we expect? The person who is alleged to have made the bribery allegation still has a pending case at the Supreme Court. The least he can do is to put in a disclaimer as he has done. But for anti-corruption watchers, the media, CSOs, Ghana Bar Association and all who care about the future of our judiciary, this must rather stimulate our curiosity. The Security agencies with the requisite expertise must be interested in investigating this matter to its logical conclusion. We can only unravel the truth if we investigate the matter.
Article 17 (1) provides that “all persons shall be equal before the law and Article 17(2) provides that “a person shall not be discriminated against on grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status” he wrote. Concluding, he recommended the following ;
*A resignation of the Chief Justice or stepping aside as the Chairman of the General Council.
- A full scale investigation by the Office of Special Prosecutor. There must be investigation into the accounts, recent assets acquired by the CJ (if any), and an investigation into all financial transactions by the said Ogyeadom Obranum Kwesi Atta VI and receivables by the Chief Justice in the last one year.
*EOCO must take steps to investigate potential proceeds of crime that could have been acquired by the Chief Justice.
*CHRAJ should institute anti-corruption investigation into the activities of the Chief Justice.
*Judicial Committee of Parliament must open a full scale public hearing into the matter to bring back public confidence into the judiciary.
*Police Protection for Lawyer Kwasi Afrifa until the final determination of the matter. This is because given the nature of the accusation, the witness need to be protected given the current state of insecurity in the country.
“In conclusion, as deputy Ranking Member of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, I wish to call on the President of the Republic, Office of Special Prosecutor and Coalition of CSOs, to officially request the CJ to step aside for an unbiased investigation to be conducted”, he asserted.
Source: Daily Post