General News of Monday, 14 September 2015

Source: Anas Aremeyaw Anas

Justice Logoh frees murder suspect for Ghc3000

Library photo

His Lordship Logoh logs in, looking lusty, laudably learned, luminously legal, lust-free, reliably liable for a just ruling this afternoon.

Nothing about his stature both physically and experience-wise, suggests the wolf coming in the cloak of a sheep.

He is looked upon with unqualified reverence and deemed the mouthpiece of God for today. One look at him is enough to dispel any sacrilegious suggestion that such a sage looking personality could be susceptible to a dishonest and shameful behavior.

The stern voice with which he speaks alone silences such a suggestion even in the secret recess of one’s senses. When you catalogue the hideous flops of this supposed judicial watchdogs, you would realize that his judgment sometimes fogs and clogs justice.

Like a drunken man who gropes even as he jogs, he bogs the sensibilities of all who know how injustice cogs and mocks peace when fairness is thrown to the dogs.

Epitomizing Shakespeare's assertion in Julius Caesar that "every like is not the same", he sits there with the mask of fairness while compromising, jeopardizing and destabilizing justice.

His sternness and forthright attitude towards lawyers, court clerks, litigants and prosecutors made it unthinkable that he could even be tempted to contemplate compromising the true course of justice.

Justice Mustapha Habib Logoh of Fast Track High Court 4 in Accra, cuts a picture of a fearless personality over the period that Tiger sat through his court to observe his demeanor and dexterity.

However, Tiger was soon to uncover how loyal Justice Logoh has been to this laudable logo when it took interest in a case being handled by the learned Judge.

It was a case of the Republic vs. John Brobbey.

Case title: Republic vs. John Brobbey

Connection woman: Madam Peace (Court Clerk High Court)

Brief Facts

John Brobbey, a coconut seller at Tema Station (Accra), stabbed a driver’s mate called Faisal over an argument. One afternoon, Faisal was walking with a young girl, holding her hands. Brobbey who was standing near his coconut around a corner, called the girl to come to him. Faisal turned, looked at Brobbey, and told the girl not to mind him. Brobbey became angry, which resulted in an argument between the two. In the course of the argument, Brobbey pulled a knife and stabbed Faisal who died on the spot. This attracted onlookers to the scene. Brobbey sensing danger, ran away to his village.

While in his village, some of his friends who knew about the murder, reported him to the police, which led to his arrest. He was subsequently brought to Accra and committed at the District Court to stand trial at the High Court. When the prosecution started looking for witnesses to the crime to no avail, Brobbey was granted bail on the basis of unreasonable delay.

Dramatic Encounter with the Permeable, Peace- Brokering Madam Peace. (Hidden Camera Footage)

Having decided to intervene in the case, we approached the judge's clerk, one Madam Peace to whom we posed as relatives of the accused. Truth is, we did not know and had never met the accused in person. We had only seen him in court.

At that time, Madam Peace doubled as an official of the Dzamefe commission that was conducting its sitting at the media center of the Accra Sports Stadium. Consequently, our first meeting was at the premise of the stadium.

We exchanged greetings with Madam Peace. She updated us on the case, disclosing among other things, that the accused had failed to meet a bail bond and remained in jail even after the bail conditions had been varied.

According to her, the bail condition had been relaxed to such an extent that he now needed only four sureties to secure bail. Madam Peace, obviously sensing intuitively that we were in for business, did not mince words but plunged straight into business too. She boldly sought to know what we were in for and how she could help us in her own ‘small way’.

We also spoke her business language and told her in a straightforward manner what we had come for. The seasoned corrupt clerk then candidly suggested a ‘better’ strategy- a ‘traditional palace strategy’, she called it.

Peace: Okay! So how did you come, now you have…

Tiger: Ehhh in fact I’m just seeking opportunity to, if you can help us talk to my Lord and see if we can get something for him and plead with him so that…!

Peace: Ehhh as for that you know you can’t go…. (as) elderly people say; you don’t go to….!

Tiger: haha no, no, not empty handed, no!

Peace: So let’s see what’ll happen, now the ball is in your court.

Tiger: Oh as for me, that’s why I came. For me, I want to find out how much we’re looking at so that if I go, then we arrange it, you understand!

Peace: Okay! You know this is a high court; he’s the high court judge; I don’t want…! It is you who needs help so it is you who will come out and maybe say, (this) and then we’ll see if it is presentable, because it is not a district court or a magistrate court (kind of thing.) You get my point? Tiger: That’s true!

Peace: Yes.

Tiger: Okay, then let me just propose this; I don’t know if it’s acceptable. What about GHc 2,500? That excludes your share. Yours is not in. Yours will be a special treat after the help is done, we’ll treat you special; that one I mean it.

Peace: You see, at times people, they’ll say it like that (Tiger cuts in)

Tiger: Oh no, no, no! Once I’m coming, I’m coming with both.

Peace: You’ll say it like that, but you see this thing it is not something that I sold to you so maybe if I don’t see you again, it is not something that I can…

Tiger: Oh no, no! For that, be rest assured that we’ll always need your help once you are there.

Peace: So..! Well, I’m not going to take it so I’ll see, I’ll inform him.

Tiger: Okay, okay!

Peace: They say you cannot drink soup for somebody.

Tiger: For somebody yeah!

Peace: So I’ll tell him and we will know what is the next step.

Tiger: Okay, then if you inform him, whatever it is, you just inform me.

Peace: Okay!

In a rather swift response to our request, Peace reverted to us two days later, and confirmed that the judge was amenable, but on condition that we topped up our offer to GH3000.

"You Should Put The Cash In An Envelope" (Hidden Camera Footage)

At this second meeting, we went in to reiterate our commitment to getting John Brobbey out of the grip of the law. In furtherance of this commitment, we gave Madam Peace the first tranche of the money.

Peace: Yeah! Do you still doubt me?

Tiger: Oh! I don't doubt you as such but ehhh you know I told you that my uncle was saying that…

Peace: Yes, if anything at all, on the day (maybe) if anything at all, you can come with him.

Tiger: My uncle?

Peace: Yes, if you are doubting me; so that ehh…..

Tiger: No, let me explain my uncle’s position to you.

Peace: Yes I know I agree with you perfectly; mmm but as I’ve assured you, you would meet my Lord. Don’t worry at all, okay? So you’ll meet my Lord, you don’t worry okay? Because of you when I left here yesterday I had to go back to the office to see my Lord, mmm!

Tiger: Okay.

At last, it was time to deliver the money. We pulled it out rather indiscreetly but she reacted cautiously:

Peace: Don’t remove anything here. Can I get the rubber, all this?

Tiger: No, no, not all that. In fact actually, he wants me to come here for the rest but I have GHc 500. I was going to give it to you and then go and bring the rest.

Peace: Oh okay, okay!

Tiger: So I should give it to you!

Peace: Yes. It’s in an envelope?

Tiger: No it’s not in an envelope.

Peace: We’re about to sit (Dzamefe Commission of Enquiry)

Tiger: Or we should go somewhere…

Peace: Ehhh! Okay you give it to me but you should have put it in an envelope; my Lord’s own too?

Tiger: No my lord’s own that is what I am going to take.

Peace: Okay!

Tiger: You know the mistake I did is that I didn’t put it in an envelope, I thought we were going to sit somewhere and talk. I didn’t know I would meet you in this emergency manner.

Peace: Mmm you know I told you this morning that I am here. So you are now counting it?

Tiger: (laughs) hehe, let me see what it is. I am not sure of it. It is GHs 700.00 but I don’t know if you can count it or?

Peace: Oh okay, you, I would come there.

Tiger: Okay, alright.

Peace: So this is GHs700.00?

Tiger: Yeah you whatever that you count it, because I couldn’t count it, so whatever that it is just let me know then the balance would be added to you in due course..

Peace: Okay! Don’t worry, so when would I meet you again?

Tiger: I would be going to see him and then tell him of your assurance and then I’ll call you and then bring you the money.

Peace: Okay, okay!

Tiger: But my Lord is not here?

Peace: No, no!

Tiger: Okay so I’ll explain it to him; that you would have taken me to him but because he’s not here, you understand!

Inside my Lord Logoh's Cash Exchange Office (Hidden Camera Footage)

On the scheduled meeting day, the judge had just returned to his office after the day’s sittings. There he sat reading a newspaper when Madam Peace and Tiger entered his office to thrash out matters before he sat on the matter again. It was a brief engagement, excerpts of which are as follows:

Tiger: In fact, my lord we are seeking a help for one of our brothers.

Logoh: Where do you work?

Tiger: I am not working at the moment.

Logoh: Speak quickly so that… you can see I am busy.

Tiger: Yes Sir, yes my lord. So I approached my mother here and then talked to her and then she said she has spoken to you.

Logoh: Yes, she mentioned it to me, the case is such that the state is not finding any witnesses and if they are not there, there is nothing anybody can do about it.

Tiger: So he’ll be freed my lord?

Logoh: Hehehe… well, for now, yes because they are not getting their witnesses and if the witnesses are not coming, there’s nothing anybody can do.

Tiger: Mmm! Okay. It so happens that we were actually worried and (then) in fact it has been sleepless nights on the part of the family.

Logoh: What is your name?

Tiger: My name is Zett.

Logoh: Seth?

Tiger: Mmmm

Logoh: Okay so that is the information so don’t worry.

Tiger: Okay! My Lord, the family organized this for you.

Logoh: Thank you.

Tiger: It is three thousand

Logoh: You go.

We placed the money on Habib Logoh J.’s table, after which we saw him expertly pick it and drop it in his drawer. We were certain that he was going to keep his word at the next adjourned date and John Brobbey, a suspected murderer would indeed be a free man very soon.

And Logoh Freed John Brobbey, the suspected murderer

The court was very packed on that day. Tension was high and everyone was tense. A long, winding judgment was expected to be rolled out. Nobody knew to whose favor. One could never be sure. Justice Mustapha Logoh, however, within a split second, freed the suspected murderer without any doubts or prevarication, concluding the deal just as we had earlier on negotiated.

Madam Peace Grabs Her Last Cash Of The Deal (Hidden Camera Footage)

The last leg of the deal was to honor our pledge to Madam Peace. It was our last meeting with her and there we did pay her. She had interesting things to say.

Peace: Let sit here and talk, come you come, I am even tired. So you’re satisfied now?

Tiger: Mmm I’m very, very much satisfied.

Peace: Today when I even told my Lord he said oh but this man…

Tiger: I am going to give you something but just take your balance for the good job done.

Peace: Okay!

Tiger: So whatever it is, I’ll call you and then I would give you something. I also told my Lord that I would give him goat. I sell goats too, so anytime you also need some you can let me know, I would give you.

Peace: Okay! So now you agree, you agree with me now?

Tiger: Yeah!

Peace: You know we have different people,

Tiger: Mmm that one it’s true.

Peace: I agree with you but when somebody assures you that this is the best way… My Lord, he trusts me.

Tiger: You know my uncle was the problem, I went and told him that the one I got, she’s a credible person, but- and he is saying this..!

Peace: Otherwise I would not even show you where I am, let alone… Tiger: Yeah, yeah that one is true.

Peace: Look at even the first day that you called me, I never knew you, I don’t know you but..! It is not even everybody who can even approach somebody like that.

Tiger: Mmm!

Peace: Do you get my point?

Tiger: Mmm, mmm!

Peace: So I thank you.

Tiger: Okay thank you too.

Peace: So since I have your number, anytime, as you promised; a French man says (speaks a French language) promise is like you are owing, so you yourself you’ve promised me..!

Tiger: That one it’s true. I told you.

So, all in all, the accused was discharged, and according to Justice Logoh, it was largely because the state was failing in its duty to get witnesses to prosecute the case.

Justice Mustapha Habib Logoh has presided over landmark cases in Ghana including the limping man cocaine case, the New Patriotic Party Presidential primaries, the Kombian trial case, the Rawlings taxi driver case, the Issah Mobilla case and a lot of Narcotic cases.

Constitutional Provisions

It would appear as if he (Mustapha Logoh J.) freed the accused murderer because prosecution could not provide their witnesses; if that were the case, shouldn’t he just have abided by the 1992 constitutional provisions of Article14(4) and 19(1) without taking any financial consideration?

ARTICLE 19 (1)

A person charged with a criminal offense shall be given a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court

ARTICLE 14 (4)

Where a person arrested, restricted or detained under paragraph (a) or (b) of clause (3) of this article is not tried within a reasonable time, then, without prejudice to any further proceedings that may be brought against him, he shall be released wither unconditionally or upon reasonable conditions……

John Brobbey should have therefore been discharged. Moreover Logoh J. had adjourned this particular case because as at that time we were looking for the money to pay to influence his decision. He waited until he was paid before he set Brobbey free. He had already granted him bail in accordance with constitutional provisions.

At that same time, while we were monitoring, we realized that Logoh J. was not starting any new trials. He was not hearing any new cases, which means that even if the prosecution had brought witnesses, he would not have trialed the case. Also, he had many cases pending trial in his court for much more longer periods than the Brobbey case in which he had not discharged the accused person(s).

Again, we were not Lawyers for Brobbey and had not filed any application for his release in accordance with the law. Thus our sole conclusion as to what informed his decision to discharge Brobbey was the financial consideration.

The decision to release Brobbey was after Peace had contacted him on our offer of GHc 2,500.00 of which, according to Peace, he had asked for an increment of GHc 3,000.00. He only agreed to meet with us because of the money and the only reason why he told us what he was going to do on the next adjourned date was because he had confirmation from Peace that we had brought the money. It appears that even when it is glaring as to what this judge must do, his palms must be greased first.

The Code of Ethics for Judges and Magistrates

A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others; nor shall a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.

RULE 3 B 7

A judge shall accord to every person who has a legal interest in a proceeding, or that person's lawyer, the right to be heard according to law. A judge shall NOT INITIATE, PERMIT, OR CONSIDER ANY EX PARTE COMMUNICATION CONCERNING A PENDING OR IMPENDING PROCEEDING, except that:

(a) Where circumstances require, an ex parte communication is authorized when it does not deal with substantive matters and is for scheduling or administrative purposes or emergencies provided: (i) the judge reasonably believes that no party will gain a procedural or tactical advantage as a result of the ex parte communication, and (ii) The judge makes provision promptly to notify all other parties of the substance of the ex parte communication and allows them an opportunity to respond.

We contacted the Judge in question to give answers to the above but he declined comment. The Ethics of the bench does not permit Judges to comment publicly

Undercover – ‘Ghana In The Eyes of God’ is an investigative piece by Anas Aremeyaw Anas and the Tiger Eye Team which revealed corrupt activities of over 170 judicial staff and judges nationwide. The people involved in these acts of corruption were captured on hidden camera footage while they were taking the bribes. Stay tuned for more…