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General News of Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

US$5 million bribery allegation against Chief Justice: What we know so far

Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah

• A lawyer by name Kwasi Afrifa months back made corruption allegations against Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah

• He accused the Chief Justice of demanding US$5 million from a client of his

• The Chief Justice has rejected the allegations

The judicial arm of Ghana’s government has in the last few months became the point of focus with some jaw-dropping developments within that space.

This was after no less a person than the man sitting at the apex of that arm of government, the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, became the subject of corruption allegations from a lawyer by name Kwasi Afrifa.

Kwasi Afrifa’s allegation

These yet-to-be proven allegations made by lawyer Kwasi Afrifa was contained in a response to a petition filed against him at the General Legal Council, GLC, by a client called Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta IV.

Kwasi Afrifa among other things claimed that the Chief Justice demanded US$5million from his client in order to pass a favourable verdict over a land issue.

“At the end of July 2020, the Petitioner informed me that friends of his who were highly connected politically had taken him to see the Chief Justice who had agreed to help him win his case on condition that he drops my goodself as the lawyer handling the case for him and engage Akoto Ampaw Esq in my stead,” Kwasi Afrifa said.

“He further informed me that the Chief Justice had demanded a bribe of US$5,000,000 for a successful outcome to his case and that he had already paid US$500,000 to the Chief Justice. He further indicated that he was hard-pressed to raise the remainder of the US$5,000,000 and so I should refund some of the GH¢300,000 paid me as fees because he had in line with the advice of the Chief Justice, engaged Akoto Ampaw Esq as solicitor to continue the case before the Supreme Court,” Afrifa added.

Petition by Ogyeedom

The quotes above which has a number of serious allegations against the Chief Justice were precipitated by a complaint filed by Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta IV at the GLC over the conduct of Akwasi Afrifa who used to be his attorney.

Ogyeedom said that his former lawyer acted in contravention of GLC rules when he handled the case “Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI v Ghana Telecommunications Co. Ltd” by suggesting to him [Ogyeedom] to “provide an amount of US$100,000 to enable him to do some ways and means (gymnastics)” on the case “so that we can obtain a favorable decision.”

Ogyeedom said he was beyond conviction that the Supreme Court was going to rule in his favour but had to fulfill the demand of his counsel as he was a novice when it comes to the justice delivery system.

But he later realized that he had been shortchanged and after removing Akwasi Afrifa as his lawyer made efforts to retrieve payments made to him.

“…so I fired him from the case and asked him to refund the money but he has since refunded US$25,000 leaving a balance of US$75,000 due and owing to me. All efforts to retrieve the amount have failed,” Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI stated.

Ogyeedom responds to Akwasi Afrifa’s allegations

Shortly after GhanaWeb published the story of Kwasi Afrifa’s response to his complaint at the GLC, the lawyers for Ogyeedom issued a response where they distanced him from all the allegations made against him, lawyer Akoto Ampaw and the Chief Justice.

Ogyeedom stated that he has at no point in his life had an interaction with the Chief Justice and that all the claims being made by lawyer Kwasi Afrifa hold no water.

“I unequivocally deny all allegations of intended bribery or actual bribery against any judge including the Chief Justice whom I have never met or known personally apart from seeing him in distance from the bench,” the rejoinder said in part.

“I have since applied for a copy of the said response to my petition against Lawyer Afrifa in which those fabrications and allegations are said to be contained and will appropriately react to the General Legal Council upon receipt of same.”

Chief Justice refers case to CID

The Chief Justice in a statement written on his behalf by the Judicial Service also debunked allegations made against him by Kwasi Afrifa.

He said that aside the courtroom where he usually hears the name of Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI when his case is called, he has never met him.

He further referred the case to the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service to conduct investigations into the matter and open criminal prosecutions where necessary.

“His Lordship the Chief Justice is saddened that without any shred of evidence, his name has been dragged into this sordid and potentially criminal matter.

"His Lordship further asserts that he has not demanded or received any money from any person to influence any decision,” the letter said.

ASEPA petitions CHRAJ

The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability, ASEPA, petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice to investigate the issue.

The petition, signed by the Executive Director of ASEPA, Mensah Thompson noted that the allegation levelled against Chief Justice Kwasi Annin-Yeboah is a serious one that needs critical attention.

Parts of the statement said, "We write to invoke the Jurisdiction of CHRAJ pursuant to Section 7(1)(a)(f) of the CHRAJ Act, 1993, Act 456 and Article 281(a)(e) to investigate the Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah for allegations of bribery and corruption. An allegation that Nana Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI disclosed to his former lawyer, Mr. Kwesi Afrifa Esq that the Chief Justice has demanded a bribe of US$5million from him to help him win a case he had at the Supreme Court

"...ASEPA treats these allegations very seriously and contends that the conduct of the Chief Justice if found to be true is in serious violation of Chapter 24 (code of the conduct for public officers) and several other provisions in our laws. It is therefore important that CHRAJ investigates this matter in accordance with the law and recommends appropriate sanctions in respect of the outcome of the investigations to restore the battered image of the judiciary and any other injury this allegation might have caused."

Lawyer Kwesi Afrifa slapped with nine charges

On July 29, lawyer Kwasi Afrifa faced the General Legal Council to answer to the allegations levelled against him by Ogyeedom. At the end of the day, he was slapped with nine separate charges of misconduct. The charges included his failure to disclose the allegation of bribery against the Chief Justice.

He was also cited for failing to issue receipts to his client following payment of legal fees, facilitating the commission of the alleged bribe by refunding fees he was legally paid, and making a reckless statement against the Chief Justice.

CHRAJ rejects ASEPA’s petition

The Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice issued a response to the petition of probe brought before it by ASEPA.

CHRAJ in a letter last week said that since the Council of State was working on the same issue, it could not work on it.

A letter to ASEPA, signed by CHRAJ boss Joseph Whittal, said “since the matter is pending in the appropriate constitutional forum, the commission, in the exercise of its discretion under Section 13 of Act 456, hereby ceases to investigate the complaint any further as the invocation of the Article 456 proceedings has effectively taken the matter out of the forum of the commission.”

The letter said “whilst the commission was conducting preliminary investigations into the instant complaint, it was brought to its attention that the complainant (ASEPA) has also petitioned the President of the Republic under Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution for the removal of the respondent as Chief Justice, grounding the petition on the same allegations of bribery and corruption. The said petition was submitted to the Office of the President on the 13th of July 2021, a day after the instant complaint was lodged with the commission.”

Presidency throws away ASEPA petition

ASEPA’s petition to the presidency was dismissed following a report by the Council of State which noted that a prima facie could not be established on the matter.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said of the petition as lacking merit and basis.

The statement from the presidency read in part: “It is correct to say that the petitioner does not possess any personal knowledge of any of the matter that the petitioner advances as the foundation of the petition.

“The petitioner fails to meet the threshold of proffering sufficiently strong evidence in support of his allegation for the opposing side to be called to answer to it.

“In actual fact, the petitioner fails to provide any evidence at all, in support of the spurious allegations made against the Chief Justice. It does not attempt to substantiate any of the claims in any form.

“To entertain further proceedings on third hand and fourth hand hearsay, as the petition is replete with, will violate legally acceptable standards of fairness and weaken the efficacy of the top echelon of the Judiciary.”

ASEPA responds to Akufo-Addo

Mensah Thompson, the Executive Director of ASEPA issued a strongly-worded reply to the statement from the presidency, accusing President Akufo-Addo of having no regards for the law.

“President Akufo-Addo has shown that he has absolutely no respect for the laws considering what has been done and the effect of such backlash,” he said.

Kwasi Afrifa sues GLC

Lawyer Kwasi Afrifa has ran to the Accra High Court to seek redress over the charges levelled against him.

He defended his innocence and also insisted that the $5million allegation he made against the Chief Justice is nothing but the truth.

Lawyer Afrifa also accused the GLC of sidestepping its own rules and also breaching the law of natural justice.

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