Justice Ankamah did no wrong — Judicial Council
The Judicial Council has absolved a Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Emmanuel Ankamah, from any wrongdoing in a case involving the estate of a deceased pastor.
After investigations, the Judicial Council found no case of impropriety against Justice Ankamah, and further came to the conclusion that the Justice of the Court of Appeal acted within the confines of the law and in the rightful exercise of his discretion as a judge.
Why the investigations?
On June 6 this year, the Supreme Court referred Justice Ankamah — who presided over the estate dispute in 2022 at the Tema High Court — and the then Registrar of the High Court, Sebastian Agbo, to the Chief Justice for investigations and possible sanctions.
A five-member panel of the apex court made the referral after it quashed a decision by Justice Ankamah, which struck out a caveat challenging the letters of administration for the sharing of the properties in the estate of the late Rev. Emmanuel Dorgbadzi.
The Supreme Court, in the referral, accused Justice Ankamah and the then Registrar of acting in a manner that brought the administration of justice into disrepute, describing their actions as a “shameful specie of conduct”.
Delivering his valedictory judgment, the venerable Justice Jones Dotse held that Justice Ankamah failed to give the caveators a hearing before striking out the caveat, and, therefore, the court breached the rules of natural justice.
It was also the considered view of the court that the evidence on record showed that the case was not listed for hearing, but strangely it was heard on the blind side of the caveators, with the presiding judge striking out the said caveat for want of prosecution and granting the letters of administration to the interested parties.
According to Justice Dotse, the irregular manner in which the case was determined pointed to the fact that the presiding judge “appeared to be biased against the applicants”.
However, a letter signed by the Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo, and sighted by the Daily Graphic, said after investigations, a committee, constituted by the Judicial Council, established no wrongdoing against Justice Ankamah.
The Chief Justice revealed in the letter, dated October 31, 2023, that the report of the committee absolving Justice Ankamah from any wrongdoing was adopted by the Judicial Council at its meeting held on October 4 this year.
The letter stated that the committee came to the conclusion that the striking out of the caveat by Justice Ankamah was in “exercise of discretion”.
“Please be informed that the committee determined that the decision you took to strike out the case for want of prosecution could be attributed to the exercise of discretion.
“The committee, therefore, did not establish impropriety or misconduct that could trigger an enquiry under Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana,” the Chief Justice said in the letter.
Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution stipulates the process for the removal of Justices of the superior courts (High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court), as well as the top hierarchy of constitutional bodies such as the Electoral Commission, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) whose conditions of service are the same as Justices of the superior courts.
Under Article 146, a Justice of the superior court can only be removed from office “for stated misbehaviour or incompetence or on ground of inability to perform the functions of his office arising from infirmity of body or mind”.
The removal process commences with a petition to the President, who then forwards it to the Chief Justice for a prima facie case to be established, after which the Chief Justice sets up a committee to investigate the matter, and make recommendations.
Per Article 146 (9), the President is bound to implement the recommendations of the committee set up by the Chief Justice.
What happened to the Registrar?
Meanwhile, the then Registrar of the Tema High Court, Sebastian Agbo, who was referred together with Justice Ankamah by the Supreme Court on June 6 this year for investigations, had already been dismissed by the Judicial Service on May 18, 2023, even before the apex court made the reference.
Mr Agbo was dismissed for “fraudulently preparing over 30 court orders”.
In a notice of dismissal, dated Wednesday, June 7, 2023, and signed by the Judicial Secretary, Justice Cynthia Pamela Addo, advised people against dealing with Mr Agbo as a member of staff of the Judicial Service.
“The general public and staff of the Judicial Service are hereby informed that Mr Sebastian Agbo, formerly of the Land Court, Tema, was dismissed from the Judicial Service of Ghana on May 18, 2023, for fraudulently preparing 30 court orders, a major offence under Section 37(a) of the conditions of service for senior and junior employees of the Judicial Service.
“In view of the foregoing, Mr Sebastian Agbo no longer represents the Judicial Service.
All persons who deal with him, therefore, do so at their own peril. Please be advised accordingly,” the statement said.