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Opinions of Monday, 23 May 2011

Columnist: Abubakar, Shuk

Our Judges are unelected, they are out of touch ....

.... and unsurprisingly very corrupt... there I’ve said it!

I am sick of the censorship that our judges are trying to impose on the four brave and tenacious lawyers for exposing corruption within our judiciary. So I shall defy it. Of course not all judges are corrupt. But most judges are. It is high time other lawyers take a bold stand against the ‘Cancer’ of judicial corruption.

The maxim ‘Justice must not just be done; it must be seen to be done’ is a fundamental tenet of our law, but it is one which some of our senior judges and members of the judiciary seem to have lost sight of.
When these four lawyers - Dr. Raymond Atuguba, Larry Bimi, David Annan, and Abraham Amaliba made comments to the effect that the judiciary was corrupt at a round-table discussion on the Judiciary and Ghana’s justice system organised by the National Commission for Civic Education as part of its annual constitution week celebrations, many Ghanaians would have taken it as coming from the “school of bleeding obvious”- So no surprised there at all.
The fact is that, substantial percentage of the Ghanaian society perceived the
judiciary as corrupt. Dr. Amaliba emphasized this further that, “judicial corruption in Ghana is no longer a perception but a reality – the Chief Justice has alluded to this, judges themselves have also alluded to this.” “There is a perception which has gained currency that without a bribe, you cannot secure a favourable decision in court,” he added.

Now these fine brave lawyers are being dragged before Legal Council by the Judges and Magistrate Association to ‘substantiate’ their assertion that, the judiciary was corrupt. This is what happens when they went on the round table discussion and tried to speak their mind as if Ghana were a free country. As the quickly found out, it is not and I am not surprised.

As the General Legal Council is composed entirely of judges and lawyers, we should not be very surprise that their investigation will be a whitewash, inadequate and will do little or nothing to lift the veil of corruption within the judicial authority. The finding of the General Legal Council will be as one should expect when two notorious sharpshooters sits on a committee discussing the use of firearms in the Wild Wild West. These lawyers fate will be akin to facing a secret kangaroo court with the outcome a ‘justice at its most pernicious’. However by contrast, Dr. Raymond Atuguba, Larry Bimi, David Annan, and Abraham Amaliba are heroic figures now.

It is a well-established principle of our constitution that, freedom of speech is guaranteed for all yet what these lawyers said about corruption within our judiciary, even though I believe made “in good faith and without malice” yet seems not protected by the law of our Atta Mills’ republic. Article 21 (b) of the 1992 constitution says: "All persons shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief which shall include academic freedom,"

Judge and Jury

The results of this complain by the Judges and Magistrates Association will most likely presided by people who essentially want to keep things as they are. And like most poor Ghanaians waiting to receive justice from our corrupt judges, these lawyers will find out the hard way that, ‘the powers that be’ will crush their attempt to expose their corrupt practices with iron fist and with no mercy. One begs to ask the question, “who was defending the public interest in this case” – the judiciary or these four lawyers? In my view, it is outrageous that the Judges and Magistrate Association should be given protection by the General Legal Council to sanction these lawyers.

Complain without all facts

What will be absent from the complain of the Judges and Magistrate Association ( or Judges and Juries Association ) is the remotest glimmer of an admission that judges (at least most of them) are corrupt and- have gone too far – and very fast – in reporting these four lawyers to the General Legal Council. These lawyers comments about judicial corruption are necessary and are essentially all about creating ways and means of ensuring that, judgments from our judges are devoid of political interferences and ‘telephone justice’.

Freedom of Expression

And yet, if our judges and their colleagues at the General Legal Council have their way, any attempt to expose corruption within our judiciary and journalists publishing reports about judicial corruption could be prosecuted.
This is a preposterous infringement of both our constitution and freedom of expression, which illustrates an alarming arrogance on the part of our judicial authority.

The Role of our Police Force

It had been reported today that, a legal practitioner and a leading member of the National Democratic Congress, Mr Chris Ackumey has stated that he has evidence to prove that a judge in 2008, took a bribe of GHS 500, a situation he says is a clear indication that there is corruption in the judiciary. ( )
What one will expect from a free society is that, the police will immediately contact this Mr Ackumey for his statement and a full and thoroughly independent investigation into his claim will then commence. But Ghana now under president Atta Mills is not what one will describe a free society.

However, it’s never completely too late, I therefore call on the Ghana police force to immediately commence full investigation of this gentleman’s comment. If they can arrest and prosecute one Amina for ‘false’ reporting of mass rape of passengers, surely they can investigate this gentleman’s comment.

What is now surely obvious is that, the reform of our judiciary is never going to come from our corrupt judiciary, and that our elected leaders and the police, must sort out this mess.

Shuk Abubakar
(Student of Educational Planning)
Institute of Education
Sir George Monoux College
My Blog