The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has asked Chief Justice Kwesi Anin Yeboah to step aside to allow for a transparent probe into allegations that he demanded and received part of a US$5million bribe from a litigant in order to skew justice.
At a press conference today, July 13, 2021, the General Secretary of the NDC, Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketia outlined conditions that would make a probe transparent including the need for the Chief Justice to step aside and subject himself to independent-minded organisations, if indeed he is clean.
“…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,’ Mr. Asiedu Nketia said.
The position comes after the Chief Justice had written to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Polices Service and the General Legal Council (GLC) which he chairs to probe the allegations against him.
“You can’t be a judge in your own court,” Asiedu Nketia slammed the embattled Chief Justice.
The scandalous allegation has to do with a prominent Lawyer, Kwesi Afrifa, alleging in a letter to the Disciplinary Committee of the GLC that a former client, Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta IV, whom he was representing in a case against Ghana Telecom and the Lands Commission had replaced him on the advice of the Chief Justice.
According to the allegation, Chief Kwesi Atta IV had confided in him (Kwesi Afrifa) that some politically well-connected people had introduced him to the Chief Justice who had promised to skew the outcome of his case for him. In exchange, the Chief Justice allegedly demanded US$5million bribe.
Also, the chief was advised by the Chief Justice to replace his Lawyer, Kwesi Afrifa with a long-time friend and Lawyer of President Akufo-Addo, Akoto Ampaw.
Both the Chief and the Chief Justice have denied the allegation with the Chief Justice stating his denial in the letter inviting the Police to probe the allegation. But the NDC has said that the Ghana Police Service cannot be trusted to conduct a transparent investigation into the matter either.
“We are of the considered view that the recent history of the Police CID with respect to investigations into allegations against high-ranking officials of the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government would not afford the sort of confidence that must be engendered in an investigation such as this considering the elevated position of the person against whom these allegations have been made,” The NDC said.
“We recall how corruption cases like the Australia Visa fraud scandal, the Galamsey fraud scandal, the 500 missing excavators scandal, just to mention a few ended in clear cover-ups when handled by the Police CID. The magnitude and gravity of this matter call for utmost transparency and confidence-building which the CID cannot muster at the moment,” the NDC said of the Police.
Mr. Asiedu Nketia said that ordinarily since the issue is about the misconduct of a judge the Judicial Service would be the best to probe it but since it involves the Chief Justice, he could compromise the investigation.
Therefore, it said, a full public inquiry into the matter would best serve the situation. “This can be done by invoking Article 278 of the 1992 Constitution under which Parliament can by a resolution compel the President to set up a Commission of Inquiry to look into the matters at hand in a transparent manner and make a faithful determination thereof.’
Conversely, he said, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), would be better placed to conduct such a serious inquiry.