General News of Monday, 14 March 2016
Ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, says the Chief Justice erred when she identified Tiger Eye PI as the one who petitioned President John Dramani Mahama to remove 12 High Court judges over allegations of corruption.
The Chief Justice in a letter to the judges to respond to the allegations against them mentioned Tiger Eye PI, as the petitioner based on the fact that the petition was on the letterhead of the said entity owned by Anas.
Three of the embattled judges, justices Justice UP Dery, Mustapha Habib Logoh and Ayisi Addo have since filed multiple cases at the various courts, including the Supreme Court in which they are employing technicalities to invalidate the petition seeking their removal.
According to them, the petitioner does not exist and as such lacks the legal capacity to submit the petition, hence the entire petition is vitiated by fraud.
In their suit at the Supreme Court, three judges contended that the there is no identifiable petitioner in the petition to the President seeking their removal on the basis of the investigation by Anas, hence should not be made to stand
But in a sharp defence, Anas has challenged the claim by the three embattled judges, saying the Chief Justice erred in stating Tiger Eye PI is the petitioner whereas he [Anas] is the petitioner.
He quoted a portion of the petition to support the claim that he [Anas] indeed petitioned the President to remove the 12 judges and not Tiger Eye PI on whose letterhead the petition was submitted.
"This is the humble petition of Anas Aremeyaw Anas, under article 146 of the constitution of the republic (sic) of Ghana, to the president (sic)of the republic of Ghana, in my capacity as a citizen of Ghana, and by profession an investigative journalist and a lawyer, humbly requesting that you commence and put in place the process provided for under article 146 aforesaid for the removal from office the under listed superior court judges for stated misbehaviour," the petition read in part.
Anas contends in the defence filed by his lawyers that the most important feature of the petition is that the petitioner identified himself as Anas Aremeyaw Anas – who the owner and Chief Executive Officer of Tiger Eye PI.
"My Lords, in notifying the plaintiffs of the petition, the Chief Justice indicated that it was filed by tigereyepi, apparently taking the name from the letterhead and watermark on which the petition was printed," he argued.
In view of that, Anas argues the issues as stated by the three judges "are mischievous, self-serving, pre-emptive, prejudicial, and totally lacking in candour".
Anas contends it is untenable for the three judges to argue that the petition praying for their removal is vitiated by fraud, saying "We have shown per Exhibit 1 – the petition itself – that the petitioner was identified as Anas Aremeyaw Anas, a citizen of Ghana, a lawyer, and an investigation journalist and printed on the letterhead and watermark of the first defendant."
He said granted that Tiger Eye PI did not exist by way of incorporation does not in any way affect the material of the petition.
"We have demonstrated that the petition submitted to the President for the removal of the plaintiffs as justices of the superior court was, in substance, properly submitted by an identifiable petitioner," Anas argues.
He avers that no constitutional violation whatsoever were breached as claimed by the embattled judges, describing their contentions as "figments of the imagination" intended to prevent hearing into the allegations of corruption against them.
Anas submits in the defence that there is no constitutional requirement of incorporation for a petition to be well founded if it is not brought by an individual
According to him, a petition is also properly submitted to the President if it is submitted by a group of persons. It flows by way of common sense that if an individual can properly submit a petition to the President, then a group of individuals can properly submit same.
"My Lords, we daresay that a group of individuals, for identification purposes, may just choose a group communal name or a group association name. The name they choose to refer to the group need not be incorporated as long as the members of the group append their marks or signs on the petition and they are identifiable," he adds
Anas is thus praying the Supreme Court to show "fidelity to the accountability spirit professed in the preamble to the Constitution," and then dismiss the claims of the judges in its entirety.
Anas has over the years been at the forefront of uncovering rot across the world, particularly in Africa with primary focus on issues of human abuses and corruption. His latest investigation into Ghana's judiciary has resulted in the dismissal of some 20 judges caught on tape taking bribes.
Five other judicial staff who were incriminated in the video and found guilty of the stated misconduct have also been dismissed while some other High Court judges are going through impeachment processes.