Judicial bribery scandal: 20 lower court judges dismissed

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The Judicial Council has removed twenty justices of the lower court from office following their indictment in the recent judicial corruption scandal exposed by investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas.

At an emergency meeting of the council on Monday December 7, 2015, it unanimously decided to remove from office 20 out of the 21 judges and magistrates cited in the petition filed by Tigereye P.I. accusing them of taking bribes to influence judgments of the court.

Made up of eight Circuit Court Judges and 13 District Magistrates, they were removed for stated misbehavior under article 151 (1) of the 1992 Constitution. Some of them were removed from office without their end of service benefits and others with benefits.

The Chief Justice, Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood made this known at a press briefing in Accra on Monday evening.

Graphic Online’s court reporter Nana Konadu Agyeman, who was at the briefing reported that, one of them, Samuel Essel Walker of Bolgatanga District Court was reprimanded in a written letter since there was no adverse finding against him.

The council resolved that he should be given a written reprimand since the Disciplinary Committee, chaired by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Her Ladyship Justice Sophia Adinyira did not find that his conduct warranted removal from office.

According to our reporter, those removed with benefits according to the Judicial Council showed remorse when they appeared before the Disciplinary Committee and apologised profusely to the people of Ghana and the Judiciary for bringing the name of the institution into disrepute by their conduct.

However those who were removed without benefits, were said to have shown no remorse when they appeared before the Disciplinary Committee hence they go home with nothing.

Tigereye P.I. petitioned the Judicial Council 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 had been elevated to the High Court as of April 2015 and therefore could not be dealt with under the said article 151.

Later Tigereye submitted another name, Emmanuel Opare to put the total number at 23.

Without benefits

The names of those removed without benefits were given as 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 .

With benefits

Those removed with benefits are Benjamin Y. Osei of Juaben Circuit Court, Seyram Tsatsu Azumah of Akropong Circuit Court, Paul K. Alhassan of Agona District Court, Albert Zoogah of Ashiaman Circuit Court and Courage Ofori Afriye of Offinso District Court.

Already seven out of 12 High Court Judges who were also implicated in the scandal are already serving suspension over same the matter.

The Chief Justice addressing the press briefing according to our reporter said further announcements on the other Investigative Committees will be made soon and assured that the Judicial Council 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 said.

Other members of the Disciplinary Committee were Mr Frank Beecham, a former President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Nene Amegatcher, immediate past President of GBA, Ambassador James Victor Gbeho, Brigadier General Edward Fiawoo and Her Ladyship Justice Elizabeth Ankumah, a Justice of the High Court.

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