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General News of Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Source: Daily Guide

Lawyers fight Anas over mask

Anas Aremeyaw Anas Anas Aremeyaw Anas

Lawyers for some of the high-profile judges caught in the alleged bribery and corruption scandal that has rocked Ghana’s judiciary say the processes leading to possible impeachment of the judges are being undermined with their inability to see the face of the petitioner, Anas Aremeyaw Anas.

Gary Nimako, counsel for Justice Kofi Essel Mensah, said that he did not understand why Anas Aremeyaw Anas, the popular investigative journalist whose company, Tiger Eye PI, exposed the alleged misconduct of the judges, should still be masked before the investigative committee.

He is not the only lawyer who is fighting the authorities to remove the mask Anas has been wearing to conceal his face.

Nkrabea Effah-Dartey, counsel for Justice Gilbert Ayisi Addo aka Saddam and veteran John Ndebugre, who represents a number of lower court judges caught in the scandal, also did not understand why Anas should be allowed to mask himself even at in camera hearings.

Anas, who filed the petition against the 12 high court judges and other circuit court judges and magistrates, has been helping the committee set up by the Judicial Council to come out with prima facie evidence that would lead to the impeachment of the affected judges.

However, Anas has been appearing before the committee, which sits in camera, with his face covered; and there is a huge debate about the appropriateness of his dressing, with Ndebugre wondering if they had been dealing with the right person, especially since his face is covered.

Some of the lawyers have even threatened to go to the Supreme Court to unmask the investigative journalist since, in their opinion, their clients (the indicted judges) want to see the person they are dealing with.

“I do not understand why a person who claims to have walked into somebody’s premises when he was not wearing any mask will now go to a judicial committee and say that ‘I want to mask myself,’” Mr Nimako said on Joy FM’s ‘Newsfile’ programme on Saturday, whilst demanding that Anas should be made to remove the mask at least before the committee.

“How do we identify who the person sitting there is? The person’s demeanour, his truthfulness…how do we identify him or determine all those things? I don’t understand why you believe in the integrity of your story and yet you want to be masked,” the legal practitioner wondered.

He said, “The hasty manner in which we are proceeding is dangerous. We all want fairness and justice and we should allow the committee to do its work.

“It is proper we all take our time over this issue. If the person has done the wrong thing and it takes 10 years he will be punished.

“If we are not careful and we rush the process, we are going to have a lot of problems. If we bastardise our judicial system where will we go to? I am not saying exposing corruption means to destroy the judiciary. There is a good reason why proceedings for a petition are done in camera.”

Mr Nimako underscored, “I am against any proceedings which will attempt to stifle the entire process initiated by the Chief Justice,” adding, “She’s doing her work. Why won’t they let her do her work?”

He said that “We have bastardised all of them. In fact, we have hanged them in the media. The public now expect one result – that is, to remove them from office. What happens if it turns out that at least some of them are found not to have abused their office?

“The video footage suggests my client is not guilty but we can’t argue our matter on the television.

“I’ve watched it myself and I think that if time is taken and the committee does its work, some of the evidence will be impeached.

“We need to evaluate the issues and see which action to take. My client thought submitting to the investigative process and not going to court to stop any action is the way to go. It is not for me to question the decision of a very senior person. He wants to go through the process.”

“I wish to have the opportunity to cross-examine him (Anas); and trust me, he and his team will regret the day he was born. I will ask the committee to remove the mask and if they fail I will personally force them to remove it to tell us the truth,” Nkrabea Effah-Dartey said.

He maintained that the video footage given to the CJ does not show his client receiving any money as he sacked the Tiger Eye PI team from his home, and thus wondered why he was included in the list of suspended judges.

“Regardless of the immunity granted to him (Anas), though we will not institute any action against Anas, we will have him punished in one way or another, in terms of compensation. [We will] demand massive cost because what he has done is improper, is unethical, is immoral.”

Mr Ndebugre said, “You can’t see his face and the rules don’t allow that. The demeanour of the witness is very important.

“Where you have come and concealed yourself behind all sorts of things, I cannot see your demeanour and those who are the ones investigating cannot see his demeanour…. I will not cross-examine a person who is hooded.”

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