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Politics of Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Step aside, you can't be a judge on your own case - NDC to Chief Justice

NDC General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia NDC General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has called on the Chief Justice, Kwasi Annin-Yeboah to step aside in the $5,000,000 bribery allegation case levelled against him.

According to the General Secretary of the party, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, the Chief Justice cannot preside over his own case, hence the need for him to recuse himself for another judge to take over.

He furthered that since the Chief Justice cannot be a judge in his own case, it is not right for him to set up a committee to investigate the bribery allegations against him.

Addressing the press on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, Asiedu Nketia said, “The Chief Justice who is the subject of the bribery allegations in this matter and in whom disciplinary authority against Judicial Officers is vested under Section 18 of the Judicial Service Act...Good governance dictates that the Chief Justice steps aside during the pendency of the investigations by the Judicial Service relative to the issue of alleged misconduct on his part as a Supreme Court Judge. The Chief Justice cannot be a judge in his own cause, hence cannot set up a committee to investigate allegations of misconduct against himself.”

Chief Justice Kwasi Annin-Yeboah on Monday, July 12, directed the Department of the Police (CID) to conduct investigations into a bribery allegation against him.

He also directed that a petition be lodged with the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council in respect of this specific matter.

Background

The Chief Justice and lawyer Akoto Ampaw have been named in a statement by one Kwasi Afrifa of O&A Legal Consult, addressed to the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council, in which he [Afrifa] alleges that his client, Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI, once told him that “the Chief Justice had demanded a bribe of US$5,000,000 for a successful outcome of his case.”

Kwasi Afrifa’s statement dated July 8, 2021, is a response to a claim by Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI that he [Afrifa] while handling his case – Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI v Ghana Telecommunications Co. Ltd. - suggested 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 in his petition to the GLC on March 1, 2021, said despite knowing he had a good case before the Supreme Court of Ghana, he heeded the advice of his lawyer. However, he later realized that money was not used for the intended purpose.

“…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 while he appealed to the Chairman of the General Legal Council to help him retrieve the remaining amount from lawyer Kwasi Afrifa.

In a three-paged response available to GhanaWeb, Kwasi Afrifa has unequivocally denied all the claims. According to him, he never suggested to Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI to provide any amount for what he described as 'ways and means'.

While Kwasi Afrifa admitted to being Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI’s former attorney, he refuted the latter’s claim of requesting and taking funds to bribe the Chief Justice.

“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.

After the said demand was made, Afrifa said he rather took a decision to refund the amount Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI paid him for handling his case. This, he argued, he did out of a sense of dignity.

He said: “we aggregated the GH¢300,000 paid to me as being the equivalent of US$50,000 which I was to refund to him without any timeline being indicated. He said he wanted the payment in dollars because he was raising the remainder of the money to be paid the Chief Justice, and that currency was the currency of choice.

“On the 27th of January 2021, I paid an amount of US$25,000 to the petitioner and subsequently paid US$15,000 to him making a total of US$40,000 so the outstanding amount that I have to refund to him is US$10,000. I am ready willing and able to make the said payment of US10,000 when I appear before the Committee on the 15th of July, 2021.”