They are supposed to be custodians of the rule of law and serve as a bulwark against dictatorship and give justice to the afflicted, cheated and robbed.
But that was not what was witnessed in a video shown at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) yesterday in which bare-chested and casually dressed judges and magistrates were seen allegedly negotiating various sums of money to tilt the scales of justice.
Hundreds of viewers who trooped to the AICC to watch the much-talked about Anas video were stunned to find court clerks and judges taking money to compromise cases.
The amounts ranged from GH¢10 to GH¢4,000 for court clerks, while the implicated judges took between GHc500 and GHc30,000.
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Thirty-four judges and magistrates were caught on a secret camera receiving money, goats, sheep and foodstuffs in their chambers and homes.
As a result, robbers, murderers, narcotic suspects, rapists and litigants in land cases got what they wanted on a silver platter on the blind side of complainants and victims.
The three-hour video, dubbed: “Ghana in the Eyes of God”, was screened after a courtroom wrangling on whether or not the video should be aired.
Booing, moaning and laughter
The crowd booed and moaned as court clerks, policemen, judges and magistrates negotiated various sums of money to free accused persons.
Intermittent bouts of laughter were also recorded each time the suspects took goats and sheep as bonuses.
The most striking part of the video was that Tiger Eye PI solicited the freedom of accused persons whom it had never met. All it had to do was part with money.
The Tiger Eye PI team, which produced the video, was crafty enough to lure court clerks to the homes of some of the judges because it helped the team to eventually capture clearer pictures of the suspects.
The faces of some of the suspects were blurred while they received the money, but follow-up gifts to their residences made it possible for the team to video their faces well.
Although viewers were barred from taking both still and motion pictures, some attempted to take still pictures to share on social media.
Others gave live feeds to their friends and family members who could not get tickets to watch the video.
Despite the fact that hidden cameras were used to capture the bribery scenes, majority of the faces were glaring.
Some of the clerks took time to count the money given them before leading the Tiger Eye PI team to the judges.
One court clerk was shown requesting for sex instead of money. The investigative team granted his wish and handed him a prostitute. Snippets of him having sexual intercourse with the woman was shown.
A high-profile judge took various sums of money totalling more than GH¢10,000 and was at a point spotted in a military camouflage collecting money by the roadside.
Some of the judges queried the Tiger Eye PI team as to why it brought the sums of money which were not concealed in envelopes, but the team feigned innocence.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Peace Council, Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante, in his opening remarks, commended Anas and his team for uncovering such massive rot.
He also took the opportunity to commend the judges who refused to take bribes and urged Ghanaians to join the fight against corruption.
A long queue was seen at the entrance of the AICC as hundreds of excited viewers waited patiently to be ushered into the centre’s main conference hall.
Some members of the public who did not have tickets asked around if the tickets were for sale, but the security details answered in the negative.
There was heavy security presence, both outside and within the AICC. All viewers were thoroughly screened before they were allowed in.
A number of viewers who spoke to the Daily Graphic expressed shock and disappointment at what had been captured in the video.
Some of them described the scenes captured in the bribery exposé as despicable acts that dented the reputation of not only the judges and court clerks but also the entire nation.
A former Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Mr Justice Emile Short, said with increased corruption in the Judiciary, there was a lot to be done in the recruitment of judges and magistrates.
“We need to take a serious look at the criteria we use in the recruitment of judges and magistrates to enable us to curb corruption in the system,” he said.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, said he believed that the Judicial Council and the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) would be able to competently deal with judges and court clerks who deserved condemnation, as well as those who deserved commendation.
“What we have seen is a lesson for all segments of society, including politicians, the clergy, journalists, businessmen and women, as well as people in positions of trust,” he stated.
Before the video was shown, a lawyer, Mr George Tetteh, said as a practising lawyer, he did not take the bribery allegations on the face value, hence the need to see pictorial evidence of the allegation.
“Ghanaians are here to watch the video because they want to be sure and double sure that those alleged to have taken bribes were surely caught on camera,” he added.
During the airing of the three-hour footage, the poor functioning of air conditioners in the theatre caused a lot of discomfort to viewers, most of whom were seen fanning themselves in order to cope with the situation.