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Opinions of Friday, 10 October 2014

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Re: Refrain from offering bribes to Judges - Judge

What a shock! I was taken aback by the frankness of the advice issued by a judge in the Volta region to the Ghanaian public. I read it on Ghanaweb under their Regional News of Saturday, 4 October 2014. The publication was titled, “Refrain from offering bribes to Judges – Judge”

The publication mentioned, inter alia, that “Mr Justice Charles Agbavor, Volta Regional Supervising High Court Judge, has cautioned litigants against acts intended to bribe officials of the court to tilt decisions in their favour. “Judges and Magistrates are not corrupt until you make them corrupt and you must, therefore, stop bringing them the dogs, the goats and the fowls,” he had stated.

I do agree with the judge but not fully. The purposeful offerings of bribes to judges with their acceptance by the judges make them guilty of corruption by the stringent interpretation and application of the Ghana Criminal Code Act 1960. Whoever offers or accepts bribes are both equally guilty of the offence. None can ever exonerate themselves of blame.

Therefore, one would have expected Justice Charles Agbavor to have been more truthful to himself and to Ghana. He should have chastised his colleagues for letting the law profession down by accepting bribes. It is the duty of a lawyer or a judge to be honest and be ready to tell the truth at all time.

Why should a judge take bribe and thinks it is right because it has been offered to him without him requesting it? The judge was expected to have warned his colleagues against taking bribes to twist the verdict. When they accept bribes from those litigants, be they plaintiffs or defendants, that are likely to be guilty, they find ways to rather declare them innocent. This is because the judges have been induced financially to decide as they do.

As Mamponghene once said to Kumawu Kontrehene, Akwamuhene, Nifahene and Gyasehene, before the Asanteman Council attended by chiefs and an audience of about one thousand people, “If you have accepted money (bribe), you have to work for it. Do the job for which you accepted the bribe”. Similarly, the judges have their hands tied, as soon as they take the bribes. They have to do whatever it takes to frustrate the party that would normally have emerged victorious from the suit or litigation, if the truth were told and the law applied.

They will keep on adjourning the case unnecessarily, asking you to appear in court at a week or two’s interval only to see the hearing of the case postponed. They can do this for years. In the end, they decide the case in favour of the one from whom they have accepted bribe, even if that person or party, is the guilty one before God and man and vis-à-vis the true interpretation and application of the law.

I shall publish articles on, and possibly name, some judges, who have delivered far worse stupid verdicts than that delivered by William Atuguba (JSC) on the Election 2012 petition. You will all see how corrupt, shameless and disgraceful these useless judges taking bribes are. Most of the problems we are witnessing in Ghana today; the collapse in law and order, the practice of selective justice, the stinking official corruption prevalent in Ghana and the breakdown of the economy are all to be blamed on the judges for being corrupt.

By their corrupt practices, they embolden criminals who can bribe them to commit crimes with impunity. No wonder, abuses are rampant in Ghana with nothing seeming to work. Had the rumoured bribery not taken place, President Mahama wouldn’t be at the helm of the nation’s affairs to cause the current economic mess Ghana finds herself in.

Litigants are not the only ones to be blamed for seeking to bribe the judges. The judges are blameable for accepting bribes to twist verdicts. Judges are aware that they take bribe but they do not want to change. Shame on them! We shall start suing them once we use modern gadgets to record them when taking bribes or their agents accepting bribes on their behalf.

Rockson Adofo