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Opinions of Sunday, 27 September 2015

Columnist: Sayibu, Akilu

When the judge is the suspect

The much anticipated video which is a product of investigations by Anas Aremeyaw Anas about the process and manner in which some Judges took bribes to skew judgement in Courts in Ghana was finally premiered at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) on the 22nd of September, 2015.
The premiering came after a few of the Judges, notably Justice Dery, tried to prevent it. He went to Court to give reasons why it should not be aired. These Justices did not deny the contents of the video but just that they wanted to hung on to some legal mechanics.
It was an irony that the very Justices who failed to live by the provisions of their work to dispense justice to all without favour or any form of inducement even at the peril of their lives violated this oath and when caught on video now wanted what they said was Justice and fair trials!
Is it only our Judges who are entitled to fairness even when they were caught on video making nonsense of the very justice they allegedly sold to the highest bidders?
One thing which should be clear is that the Judges are not demi-gods. They don’t sit on the right hand side of the Almighty God. They are supposed to be respected in society and called “My Lord” when they are adjudicating on cases. That respect they get. But when the Judge becomes a prime suspect in investigations accusing him to have taken bribe to dispense justice, then the story changes and they will also be expected to be crossed examined in open Court and have the laws of the land talk to them.
Trying to stop the tape and describing Anas as a lawlessness person and in some cases, accusing him of using wrong methods to extract evidence, is not the issue here. There is nothing wrong with using every possible method to expose wrong and corrupt Judges who take goats, sheep and money to dispense Justice.
Our Judges swore oaths to dispense trials truthfully and faithfully. If they have veered off the road in providing rightful verdicts through commercialisation, why should all methods not be employed to expose them? Do we know of the number of innocent people who have been incarcerated because a Judge somewhere took goats and their children probably dropped out of school?
Do we know of how many armed robbers have been released onto our roads by bribe taking Judges to continue to murder and maim innocent persons? The right of any Judge cannot be more than the lives of innocent persons who were sentenced to life imprisonment in some cases.
Some persons have decided to ignore the fact that Anas’ investigations also provided a list of decent Judges who stood by their oaths and even threatened to have Anas locked up for even thinking of giving them bribes in the first place.
The investigative piece was well balanced and the corruption within various stages of our judicial system abundantly established. The Court of public opinion agreed with the airing of the video which was done. All investigations conducted by Anas and his team have always been shown and this case is no exception.
The law lords who have been caught are now the suspects here. There is the need for the state to adequately probe into this and work towards how the bench can be made clean to enable it deliver clean verdicts in all cases.
It is not a small issue. The confidence in our legal system has collapsed for now. Most Ghanaians will not accept for their cases to appear before the Judges who have been seen taking bribes. The President must treat this case with all seriousness. The reputation of Ghana in terms of its effort to fight corruption is in doubt for now. Anas and his team must be commended for a good work done and also given substantial protection.
Justice must be served bearing in mind that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Very best, my dear readers
Akilu Sayibu, Email: