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General News of Sunday, 18 March 2012

Source: Jay Mensah and Judith Quansah

Saga of Corruption in the Judicial Service at Cape Coast

(Part 2):
Family Petitions Chief Justice to investigate allegations of Corruption and Bias conduct against High Court Judge
The Family of the late George Kwesi Amoakwa Hammond, a British Citizen of Ghanaian origin, who until his death was domiciled in the United Kingdom, has petitioned the Chief Justice of Ghana, Mrs Georgina Wood over what they claim to be bias conduct of a trial presided over by Judge Mr M. A. Mustapha, a Justice at the High Court at cape Coast.
The family accuses the trial judge of collusion with Counsel for the plaintiff Mr Gustav Addington of Addington Chambers of Cape Coast to skew the ongoing trial at Cape Coast in favour of the plaintiff, one Ms Faustina Akua Amponsah aka Nana Nufa Seii of Breman-Asikumah in the Central Region of Ghana, who is claiming to be the wife and widow of the deceased.
A source within the Complaints Unit at the High Court in Accra has confirmed that Mr John Hammond has, indeed, lodged a Petition with the Chief Justice to investigate the allegations of bias and corruption against the judge presiding over the ongoing trial case no E/12 22/2011 at the High Court at Cape Coast.
The troubling twist to this worrying saga which has led to the petitioning of the Chief Justice was that on 18 December 2010, the family of the deceased had made arrangements for the burial of their beloved brother, who died in Kumasi after a short illness during a visit to Ghana.
Just as the funeral arrangements were in progress, Ms Faustina Akua Amponsah secured interlocutory injunction order from the Circuit Court at Agona -Swedru restraining John and Emma Hammond the brother and sister of the deceased from performing the funeral and burial rites of their late brother.
Ms Amponsah claims she is the wife of the deceased and therefore should be allowed to take part in the funeral and burial rites of the deceased as a widow. The family refused her request as they knew their brother did not marry after his first marriage, with three siblings. The deceased, the family claims, was single and lived alone at his address in the United Kingdom. Ms Amponsah later filed a repeat injunction on notice at the Circuit Court at Swedru. The court after hearing arguments from Counsels for both sides dismissed Ms Amponsah's Application and claim.
Ms Amponsah not satisfied with the ruling at the Circuit Court at Agona Swedru discontinued her court action at Agona Swedru and later issued a fresh Writ at the High Court at Cape Coast. Documents we have sighted show that Ms Amponsah applied for an interlocutory injunction order, for a third time, restraining the family from performing the funeral and burial rites of the deceased.
An aspect of the claims in the petition is that whilst the substantive matter as to the marital status of Ms Amponsah is yet to be determined, the trial Judge at the High Court at Cape Coast, Mr Justice Mustapha on the 21 March 2011 made an unusual interim ruling which states that Ms Amponsah should be allowed by the family to take part in the funeral of their late brother as a wife.
We have sighted Mr Justice Mustapha's ruling of 21 March 2011, which stated, inter alia, that the respondents, John Hammond and others were estopped from denying that the applicant was the widow of the deceased and that the burial and funeral rites of the deceased should be performed with the full participation of the applicant. This ruling was based upon a purported agreement signed by the applicant on the one part and John and Emma Hammond (head of deceased’s family). The legality of the said agreement which was heavily relied upon by the trial judge in making his ruling is in dispute and forms part of an Appeal documents against aspects of Mr Justice Mustapha's ruling, which is still pending at the Appeal Court of Ghana. According to the family Ms Amponsah has refused to appear before the court's Registrar for the settlement of records to enable the Registrar forward the records for the Appeal to be heard.
The family submits that Ms Amponsah on the 1 December 2011 filed an application at the High court at Cape Coast presided over by Mr Justice Mustapha for an order directing the family to perform the funeral rites of the deceased. On the 14 February 2012, at the High Court at Cape Coast, Mr Justice Mustapha gave a ruling and directed the family to perform the deceased funeral and burial rites within 30 days of the order or suffer the consequence. To add salt to an injury, the trail judge directed that " The burial and funeral rites should be with the full participation of the applicant" (Order of 14 February 20102 attached below) The family are aggrieved because they claim the trial judge has no such powers to direct the family to perform the funeral rites of their late brother within 30 days as specified in the order and with the full participation of the Ms Amponsah. The family claims Ms Amponsah is not a member of their family and therefore the court cannot force them to let her participate in the funeral rites of their late brother. The pertinent question they ask is in what capacity is the trial judge asking them to allow the Ms Amponsah take full part in the funeral rites of their late brother?
The family claims that from all indications the trial judge Mr Justice Mustapha is in collusion with the Counsel for Ms Amponsah, Mr Gustav Addington to skew the hearing in favour of Ms Amponsah to enable her obtain the vital evidence needed to participate in the intestacy of the deceased in the UK. The court, they claim has been entertaining all kinds of applications with the view to delay the hearing of the substantive matter.
More recently, on the 10 February 2012 the trial Judge granted an Order for Joinder on a motion on ex parte application made by Gustav Addington on behalf of Ms Amponsah. The order seeks to join one Mr Eric Hammond who is the eldest son of the deceased to the ongoing case at Cape Coast. This order was granted by Mr Justice Mustapha without notice to the family or Mr Eric Hammond. A disturbing issue is that although Mr Eric Hammond has not been served with any notice as to why he has been joined to the ongoing case at Cape Coast, his name now appears on court documents and court orders as co-defendant . The family believes the scale of justice is not balanced at the High Court at Cape Coast.
According to the family, Mr Justice Mustapha from all indications has shown interest in the ongoing case and therefore pray that the Chief Justice investigates this matter and for the appropriate directions be given to ensure equity, fairness and justice.
In our opinion, it is a waste of scarce state resources and valuable court time in Ghana to entertain such an application of claim from Ms Amponsah, contesting the intestacy of the deceased at the Ghanaian tax payers' expense. Court documents we have sighted show that the deceased was a British Citizen of Ghanaian origin, domiciled in the United Kingdom for 44 years. He arrived in Kumasi in July 2010 on a Ghanaian 6 months visiting visa valid till December 2010. If he were to be alive and overstayed his visa, he would have been deported by the Ghanaian immigration authorities back to the UK. Ninety nine percent (99%) of his assets are landed properties in the UK which are subject to UK Law. The deceased was a UK tax payer and his properties are subject to UK inheritance tax law and therefore the Ghanaian tax payer would not benefit directly from his estate. Under the UK Law of succession, his remains belong to his wife, failing that his children, contrary to Mr Justice Mustapha's ruling of 14 February 2012 that " At customary law, the body of the deceased belongs to his family and not to his brothers and children" If Ms Amponsah feels she has a genuine claim to contest in the intestacy of the deceased, we would have thought the best course of action for her would be to take her case to the UK High Court and to contest the rights of the personal representative of the deceased. However, The UK High Court on the 25 October 2011 gave her such an opportunity but her claims were dismissed. All we can think of is that Ms Amponsah is looking for an evidence of customary marriage in Ghana to support her case in the UK. The manipulations by the likes of Gustav Addington will not help her course because the evidence she has so far produced in support of her claim under Ghanaian customary law has been dismissed by the UK High Court. Although it is clear that the courts in Ghana do not have jurisdiction over the UK assets of the deceased, it is debatable as to whether the same courts have jurisdiction over the remains of the late George Hammond. Why waste 13 months of scarce state resources over an issue that can be handled elsewhere?
Since we published Part 1 of this matter, we have received numerous emails from concerned citizens whose experiences with the justice system in Ghana is nothing to write home about. We have reports instances of miscarriage of justice in the Judicial Service. We have received names of court officials and counsels who are alleged to have taken financial backhanders to influence the judicial processes in Ghana. We publish an example from such emails for readers to see an instance of concerns that badly affect the image of the Judicial Service in Ghana.
Sent: Friday, 9 March 2012, 13:41
Subject: Revealed: UK Court "exposes" corruption and complicity in the Judicial Service at Cape Coast
Dear Sir, This same lawyer did the same thing to my late father's estate and mislead us to bribe the same judge who is involve in this case. Addintong stole court papers and forged his own not knowing to him we have copies of the original court papers. The cape coast court granted them probate and they stole ¢300,000. new Ghana cedis from my Dads estate. I wrote to the bar association and also to the Attorney general but they did nothing and these thieves are still practicing. The Cape Coast court is a disgrace to the Country. We have all the evidence of the case if you need it I will provide you with all the evidence. Artur Dadzie another lawyer thief was arrested for the crime but was let go. They mislead us to settle the case. Cape coast judges grant these probates to these fools and they steal from citizens. Please let e know if you need more information. I can help with my evidence to expose these lawyers and Judges.Thank you.

Respectfully, J.

Editor's Note:
We are reliably informed that the petition was filed at the Complaints Unit at the High Court in Accra this week. We therefore publish this as a public document. We attach below a copy of the Petition to the Chief Justice dated 24 February 2012 and a copy of the Order for Burial dated 14 February 2012.
Please stay tuned!!!!!!!!

Source: Jay Mensah and Judith Quansah