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Opinions of Monday, 15 February 2016

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Is this court registrar not being corrupt despite Anas’……

Expertly revealed existence of judicial corruption in Ghana? The renowned Ghanaian investigative journalist, Mr Anas Aremeyaw Anas in his attempts to curtail or eradicate official corruption in Ghana, the bane of Ghana's socio-economic advancement, undertook a two-year covert investigations into the malpractices of the Ghana judiciary.

At the end of the two year in-depth investigations, he publicly announced his findings to the Ghanaian and the worldwide public to the greater admiration of all honest and seriously-thinking people who desire the best for Ghana. The judges, court clerks and all those found to be implicated in the perpetration and perpetuation of judicial corruption, selling justice to the highest bidder, suffered public humiliation and condemnations. Some have since been sacked with the consequent loss of their retirement pay package.

One will normally expect all those working in the judicial service to learn a bitter lesson from the fate of their sacked colleagues to not behave irresponsibly but that is not the case with the registrar under discussion.

The Registrar of the Judicial Committee of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs has not taken any cue from the fate of the sacked judges and that of the uncovered corrupt court clerks. He has rather decided against all odds to behave in contravention of the professional expectations of Anas. He is abusing his power and the functions of his office.

To better make myself more understandable to the reading public, I shall beg to precede the explanation of the registrar's attitude by mentioning the alleged Kumawuhene Sarfo Tweneboah Koduah (Dr Yaw Sarfo in private life).

From Barimah Sarfo Tweneboah Koduah's own camp, the citizens of Kumawuman have been made to understand that he has been gazetted as the paramount chief (Omanhene) of Kumawu since May 2015 by the Judicial Committee of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs.

How do we confirm the assertion by those handful supporters of Barimah Sarfo Tweneboah Koduah? It can only be ascertained by making inquiries at the Regional House of Chiefs. It is only the Registrar of the Judicial Committee of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs who can provide credible information and papers on whether or not Barimah Sarfo Tweneboah Koduah has been gazetted as alleged.

The registrar became unresponsive to the requests made to him for confirmation as to whether or not Barimah Sarfo Tweneboah Koduah has been gazetted, and if yes, on what grounds? Subsequently, the inquirer(s) filed an application of mandamus against him at one of the Regional High Courts in the Ashanti region.

What is MANDAMUS? Mandamus by legal definition is "an official order from a court of law stating that a person or organization must do a particular thing".

Yes, the said Regional High Court issued a writ of mandamus to force him to produce the proof or denial that Barimah Sarfo Tweneboah Koduah has been gazetted as claimed or rumoured by his supporters.

In his appearance response to the court, he rather applied for a motion saying that the said Regional High Court since it is not in the Regional Capital of Ashanti, thus, Kumasi, has no legal authority to hear the case since he resides in Kumasi. Therefore, he wanted the case to be moved to Kumasi where he claimed, has more judges highly qualified to preside over the case.

It must be noted that there are three Regional High Courts in Ashanti region. They are in Kumasi, Mampong and Obuasi. Additionally, readers are to take note that there is ONLY ONE High Court in Ghana according to our nation's Constitution however; you will find branches throughout the various regions and in the various parts of a region. They all have the SAME AUTHORITY and exercise the SAME FUNCTIONS. None is superior to the other. The registrar should have known better if he was not being sly and malevolent.

It is only when the issue of inter-regional transfer of a suit is raised, that one can argue that a High Court of a region has no authority to hear a case. For example when a case in say, a High Court in Ho in the Volta region, is being requested to transfer to a High Court in Tamale, one can arguably say the Tamale High Court has no jurisdiction to hear the case. Even in this instance, there can be exceptions, although often very difficult to agree to. When a defendant resides in Ho and the plaintiff is in Accra, then the defendant for some reasons that I cannot specify all here, may request for the case to be heard by a court in Ho but not in Accra where the plaintiff may have primarily lodged the case. I do not want to go into the details of this. However, when it comes to intra-regional, thus, having to do with the High Courts within one particular region e.g. Kumasi High Court, Mampong High Court and Obuasi High Court, it may be a bit easier to transfer the case provided the presiding judge where the case has first started agrees to any such request. Even here, one has to submit credible reasons but the decision to agree to any transfer is the sole prerogative of the judge. Within a particular region, one can file his court complaint against the defendant in any court in any area of the region and the defendant is obliged to attend without making any fuss about it.

When an adjourned date was fixed for the hearing of the case after the judge had stated to both the plaintiff (inquirer) and the defendant (registrar) that he would hear the case because the law permits him to, the registrar has again done the unthinkable.

He has petitioned the Chief Justice, Mrs Theodora Georgina Wood, about his doubts and non appearance before the said Judge or Regional High Court. He did not appear in court on the set date for the hearing of the mandamus application filed against him with the court. Subsequently, the judge has adjourned the proceedings sine die.

What is SINE DIE? It is a Latin legal term which means "without arranging a future date for something".

Until the Chief Justice issues her views on the application made to her by the registrar as to whether or not she supports the grounds of the registrar, or the plaintiff(s) on the other hand writes to the Chief Justice questioning about the petition so filed by the registrar, the judge has been rendered powerless as long as that particular case goes.

On what grounds can a plaintiff or a defendant file a petition with the Chief Justice about ongoing proceedings or court case?

One can petition the Chief Justice on two grounds. Firstly, when he/she sees the presiding judge as biased, will be biased or is being biased. Secondly, when one is not satisfied with a ruling pronounced by a judge in the belief that the judge has been unfair to them considering the availability of credible evidence and facts submitted to the court.

On what grounds has the registrar petitioned the Chief Justice? The judge has not started to hear the case. The registrar has not made appearance in court for the hearing proceedings to commence. How then can he prove beyond reasonable doubt that the judge will be biased or is being biased? He will have to prove this. Moreover, the judge has not pronounced any ruling on the mandamus declaring that the registrar is guilty of failing to provide the documents on Barimah Sarfo Tweneboah Koduah's gazetting to the plaintiff. How can he establish in this vacuum that the judge is unfair?

The registrar should please not make a big joke of himself. He should not try to embroil the Chief Justice in his cunning ploy to support his already disgraced masters and employers in Ashanti region. He had better note that there are many knowledgeable people out there in the world who are reading into his mind and his bound-to-fail delay tactics.

His behaviour portrays him as an absolutely corrupt individual who can hardly determine the consequences of his behaviour well in advance.

Why is he pursuing court action in order not to provide the asked for document? Has Dr Yaw Sarfo been gazetted as the eligible Kumawuhene or not? What benefit has he as an outsider to the Kumawu Stool dispute to fail to provide an answer to the simple question of whether or not Barimah Sarfo Tweneboah Koduah has been gazetted as the Omanhene of Kumawu? Should he as the registrar not supposed to remain neutral in the Kumawu chieftaincy saga?

They can run, but they cannot hide. If your mum is dead and you say she is asleep, we wait to see if she will wake up, so an Akan adage says. If you are pregnant and you say you are not, we live to see, for pregnancy distends a woman's stomach but does not contract it.

It must be noted by all that before one is gazetted as a paramount chief (Omanhene), he has to fill in a form. On the form, a questioned is asked about whether or not there is a pendency of court case against your enstoolment prior to filling in the form. The form can only be accepted for approval when you answer NO to the question. If you tick the Yes box, you will not be gazetted until the courts have determined your fate.

If there is a case already pending in the courts against your enthronement, let alone a court injunction placed on your enstoolment, as it was in the case of Dr Yaw Sarfo (Barimah Sarfo Tweneboah Koduah), and you answer NO just to have you accepted for gazetting, then I am sorry to say, when the truth is found out, you will be charged with perjury. And the truth will always out!

What then is perjury? Perjury is the crime of telling lies in court when you have promised to tell the truth.

Who then is the registrar in this case trying to fool if not himself? Who is he trying to protect in this case? Is it his duty to refuse to provide the documents in his possession that will tell how Dr Yaw Sarfo filled out the forms before he was gazetted if indeed he has been? How does the registrar expect the Chief Justice to help him not to submit the document requested to court?

One will least expect anyone who works in the Ghanaian courts to behave so irresponsibly corruptibly in the wake of Anas' mastery revelations of judicial corruption in Ghana.

Anyway, I have started typing an open letter to the Chief Justice about the actions of the Registrar of the Judicial Committee of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs.

The Judicial Committees were set up by law and can operate as lesser courts, if anyone cares to know.

Rockson Adofo

(Written on Sunday 14th February 2016) – Happy Valentine's Day!