Twenty judges have been sacked following a unanimous decision of the Judicial Council after an emergency meeting held yesterday.
The action is a sequel to an investigation ordered by the Chief Justice as a result of a petition to the President and copied to the Chief Justice by Tiger Eye PI, in a case which has earned the euphemism ‘Anas Video’.
The decision was contained in a correspondence issued shortly after the resolution, part of which read: ‘The Council unanimously decided to remove from office 20 out of the 21 Judges and Magistrates cited in the petition.’
The affected persons, comprising eight Circuit Court Judges and 13 District Magistrates, were removed for stated misbehaviour under article 151 (1) of the 1992 Constitution.
In the case of Samuel Essel Walker of the District Court, Bolgatanga, the Council resolved that he should be given a written reprimand. The Committee did not find that his conduct warranted removal from office.
The 20 judges were among 34 persons, including 12 High Court judges indicted in a two-year investigation by sensational journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
The Judicial Council, according to Chief Justice Georgina Wood, was determined to take prompt, resolute and necessary measures to ensure the integrity of the Judiciary and the Judicial Service.
“… We are fully committed to redeeming the image of the Judiciary and the Judicial Service of Ghana,” she told journalists yesterday.
The action followed a recommendation by a committee set up by Chief Justice to investigate the implicated lower court judges.
The Judicial Council in September suspended 22 Circuit Court judges and magistrates following a damming audiovisual evidence detailing bribery in the Judiciary.
While some of the judges forfeited their benefits, others were lucky to have escaped that punitive action.
For those who are going home with their entitlements, the Judicial Council noted that they were remorseful and apologised to the people of Ghana for bringing the image of the judiciary into disrepute when they appeared before the Committee probing the issue.
Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Y. Osei of the Juaben Circuit Court has been sacked without benefits for a ‘stated misbehaviour under article 151(1) of the 1992 Constitution.’
The judges who have been dismissed without benefits are Frank Kingley Oppong of the Kasoa District Court, Alfred K.A. Mensah of the Somanya District Court, Alex Obeng Asante of Tarkwa Circuit Court, Emmanuel K. Sunu of Bolgatanga Circuit Court, Baptist Kodwo Filson of Bibiani Circuit Court and Emmanuel Opare of Techiman Circuit Court.
Others are Florence Otoo Ninepence of Tema Circuit Court, Isaac B. Akwantey of Wa Circuit Court, Samuel Ahiabor of Adidome Circuit Court, William Baffoe of Cape Coast Circuit Court, Michael Boamah Gyamfi of Mampongten District Court and Jacob Amponsah of Ejisu District Court.
Seyram Tsatsu Azumah of Akropong Circuit Court has been removed from office with benefits ‘for stated misbehaviour under article 151(1) of the 1992 Constitution.’
The other judges sent packing with benefits are Benjamin Y. Osei of Juaben Circuit Court, Paul K. Alhassan of Agona District Court, Albert Zoogah of Ashaiman Circuit Court and Courage Ofori Afriye of Offinso District Court.
The Chief Justice, in a press conference to put the decisions of the Judicial Council in context, traced the story from when the petition reached her desk.
‘We have gathered here today to inform you about the resolutions of the Judicial Council concerning eight (8) Circuit Court Judges and thirteen (13) District Magistrates who were investigated following allegations of bribery levelled against them by tigereyepi.’
She recalled how on ‘on August 31, I received a petition from tigereyepi dated same, for the removal from office of 22 members of the Lower Bench, on grounds of stated misbehaviour, pursuant to article 151 of the 1992 Constitution. Two of them, as we have already made public, had then been elevated to the High Court as of April this year and therefore could not be dealt with under the said article 151. Later, tigereyepi submitted another name, Emmanuel Opare, to put the total number at twenty-three (23).’
The petition, which she said was received with audio-visual evidence and transcripts of the alleged acts of misbehavior, was followed by an Emergency Meeting of the Judicial Council on 2nd September 2015, following which a five-member Disciplinary Committee chaired by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Her Ladyship Justice Sophia Adinyira, was constituted to thoroughly investigate the allegations.
The Committee, she elaborated, included two senior legal practitioners, a high level government representative and a Brigadier-General representing the Ghana Armed Forces, adding that ‘a Justice of the High Court was later added to the Committee. All the members on the Committee are members of the Judicial Council.’
An assurance, she recalled, was made at the time that the outcome of the investigations would be made public and that nobody, where culpability is established, would be spared the appropriate sanctions.
She expressed gratitude to the Disciplinary Committee for its diligence and expeditious work on the matter.
Members of the Committee were Justice Sophia Adinyira, a Justice of the Supreme Court, Mr. Frank Beecham, a former president of the Ghana Bar Association, Mr. Nene Amegatcher, immediate past president of the Ghana Bar Association, H.E. Ambassador James Victor Gbeho, Brigadier General Edward Fiawoo and Justice Elizabeth Ankumah, a Justice of the High Court.
Further announcements on the other Investigative Committees, she said, would be made soon as she gave the assurance once more that the integrity of the Judiciary and Judicial Service would be maintained.
By A.R. Gomda