ASEPA criticises CHRAJ

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
Mr Mensah Thompson, Executive Director, Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability Ghana
Mr Mensah Thompson, Executive Director, Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability Ghana

A civil society organisation and pressure group, Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) Ghana, has criticised the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for discontinuing investigations into the alleged $5 million bribery allegation against the Chief Justice.

The Executive Director of ASEPA - Ghana, Mr Mensah Thompson, said CHRAJ’s decision to discontinue investigations following a petition by his outfit was a gross violation of procedural rules.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra yesterday, Mr Mensah accused CHRAJ of failing to go by the tenets of the law when it decided not to pursue the investigations any longer.

Context

The allegation against the Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, came out during a disagreement between Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI of Gomoa Afransi in the Central Region and his former lawyer, Mr Akwasi Afrifa.

Ogyeedom Atta VI petitioned the General Legal Council (GLC) to intervene in his failed attempt to retrieve an amount of $75,000, being part of a $100,000 sum he had allegedly given to Afrifa who had requested for it to enable him procure a favourable verdict from the apex court.

Mr Afrifa in response to the petition had indicated that it was Ogyeedom Kwesi Atta VI rather who had claimed to have met the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, and that the latter had demanded a $5 million bribe to help him win the case.

The Chief Justice, who has since denied the allegation and others, petitioned the Disciplinary Committee of the GLC to investigate the matter and he also reported same to the police CID for criminal investigation.

Petition

The pressure group further sent a petition to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, asking him to trigger impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice.

CHRAJ, in its report noted that ASEPA’s petition to the President seeking for the removal of the Chief Justice could adequately resolve the issue and, therefore, there was no need for it to continue with its investigations into the same matter.

The Commission, therefore, declined jurisdiction to investigate the matter per Section 13 (1) of the CHRAJ Act, 1993 (Act 456).

Section  13 (1) of Act 456 stipulates that the Commission may refuse to conduct investigations into a matter  “where in the course of the investigation of any complaint it appears to the Commission- (a) that under the law or existing administrative practice, there is an adequate remedy for the complaint, whether or not the complainant has availed himself of it; or (b) that having regard to all the circumstances of the case, a further investigation is not necessary”.

ASEPA’s case

It is however the case of ASEPA that per a Supreme Court decision cited by CHRAJ in its report, CHRAJ should have allowed it (ASEPA) to decide which of the two petitions it wanted to go ahead.

“CHRAJ itself engaged in a number of procedural violations in churning out this report and apart from that, it exquisitely violated the rights of we the complainants when it arrogated to itself the powers to elect which of our petitions should stay and which one should proceed contrary to their own reference case,” Mr Thompson said.

He said ASEPA would soon file an application at the court seeking a judicial review of CHRAJ’s decision not to continue with the investigations.

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