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Lawyer Accuses Chief Justice Of Leaking Evidence

By Sedi Bansah
 
Chris Ackumey, an Accra-based lawyer, has condemned in no uncertain terms, the Chief Justice (CJ), Mrs. Theodora Wood’s behavior to leak to the media the evidence he had provided her to prove that corruption in the judiciary is no longer a perception but a reality.
 
Reacting to the news that the family of the judge at the center of his evidence has come out in protest to the allegation that their father was corrupt, Mr. Ackumey said it was indiscreet and highly indecorous of the CJ to have leaked the evidence he gave her to the media.
 
“ What the Chief Justice did is very unbecoming to somebody of her stature; in fact it was an indiscreet and indecorous conduct that must be condemned in no uncertain terms”, said Ackumey, adding that “she is not fit to be a Chief Justice of the judiciary of this country”.
 
Mr. Ackumey doubted the sincerity of the CJ to investigate the alleged corruption in the judiciary, saying that if the CJ did not have other motives, “she would have called my attention to the fact that the judge I am accusing of corruption is dead”.
 
“I did not know that the judge is dead, and this particular judge is not my enemy in any sense of the word for me to want to baselessly tarnish his image, so I find the CJ’s behavior unfortunate and very reckless”, Ackumey lamented.
 
He said apart from the judge who is dead in the evidence that he had submitted to the CJ, there are other people’s names he had mentioned as having played a role in the bribery saga who are alive.
 
These are the registrar of the High Court where the judge presided, and three other people. He dared the CJ to express sincerity and decency in the matter by inviting the other people, mentioned in his evidence, who are alive, to hear what they would have to say, instead of using the death of the judge as an alibi to dismiss his evidence as unsustainable.
 
He questioned what he saw as double standards on the part of the CJ in handing over his evidence to the police as a basis for criminal prosecution whilst, he believed, the CJ is culpable for prosecution when, as reported, she had allegedly coached Lawyer Atta Akyea on what to say(in court that she had convened on New Years day, a national holiday) when he (Atta Akyea) filed an ex-parte motion to stop the Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Afari Gyan, from declaring the results of the 2008 elections.
 
Mr. Jonah Abanga, son of the High Court Judge said to be at the center of the bribe allegation, was on Joy FM, an Accra-based radio station, last Wednesday, to deny the allegation that his father was corrupt, and that he had asked for GH¢500.00 as bribe to pronounce judgement in favour of one of the parties in a dispute before him.
 
He said his father was highly incorruptible and would not take bribe from anybody, and for that matter the GH¢500.00 bribe, as was being alleged by Mr. Ackumey.
 
According to him, if his father had been corrupt, he would have been rich, and would not have left for them an inheritance in the form of an old rickety Corolla car.
 
Mr. Abanga, however, conceded that there were attempts by litigants to bribe his father, by bringing gifts and money to him at home, which were rejected.
 
He said he would go through any process with the Judicial Council to ensure that justice is done to the name of his father and the family. Otherwise, the accusation could leave an eternal damnation to the reputation of the family.
 
Mr. Ackumey in his reaction to John Abanga’s submission, said that Abanga had confirmed Dr. Raymond Atuguba’s assertion that corruption was a reality in the judiciary, and that parties in litigation mistakenly bring money and other bribery items to their home apparently meant for the judge next door.
 
Dr. Atuguba and three others – Dr. Amaliba, Mr. Larry Bimi and Mr. David Annan who recently said that the judiciary was corrupt, have been asked by the Judges and Magistrates Association to prove their claims before the Judicial Council. Without even waiting for the verdict on the matter, the Supreme Court has blacklisted the four lawyers, denying them hearing.
 
In the wake of these developments, Mr. Ackumey has volunteered to offer evidence to underscore the claims that were being made by his colleagues, that corruption in the judiciary had become a reality and no longer a perception.
 
Meanwhile, a group calling itself The Forum For Governance and Justice (FFGJ) has entered the fray, calling on the Chief Justice to “stop the wanton victimization of the four lawyers who made comments about the perceived corruption in judiciary”.
 
The group, a non-partisan, non-religious, non-governmental and non-profit-making organization, made up of like-minded persons, is committed to influencing the growth of Ghana’s democratic culture, social transformation and the delivery of justice.
 
According to it, it believed that the four lawyers were only “exercising their inalienable right to free speech, and should not be prevented from practicing their profession from which they derive their livelihood, and also that, the clients of these lawyers should not be denied their constitutional right to a lawyer of their choice”.
 
The group said it made the demand, knowing that the General Legal Council, the only body that can bar the lawyers, had not yet heard the lawyers.
 
The group urged the CJ to set up an independent enquiry, inviting members of the public to summit complaints about corruption within the judiciary; volunteers should be granted immunity.
 
The FFGJ said the CJ should ‘initiate credible and measurable actions to ensure that judicial accountability is entrenched”. It also advocated for the absolute independence of the judiciary – a non-negotiable principle undergirding any good justice delivery system.
 
The group urged the CJ to hold in check the Judges and Magistrates Association from becoming a threat to judicial independence, adding that the association’s mandate be reviewed to stop it from becoming a labour union which is not permissible on the bench.
 
The petition was signed by one Dr. Clement A. Apaak and Dr. Samuel C. K. Buame.