The President of Ghana has suspended seven of the 12 High Court judges caught on video allegedly receiving bribes to pervert justice.
A statement signed by the Judicial Secretary, Alex Opoku Acheampong and issued in Accra said Vice-President Kwesi Amissah Arthur, acting as president, took the decision on the advice of the Judicial Council.
The Council under the leadership of the Chief Justice had in the past few weeks been trying to establish a prima facie case of misconduct against the 12 High Court judges.
The judges were filmed by investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas allegedly trading justice for pecuniary and other material benefits.
Anas petitioned the President to remove the said judges from the Bench which petition was forwarded to Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood to initiate steps in accordance with the constitution to establish their guilt or otherwise.
Article 146 (3) of the constitution states that, “If the President receives a petition for the removal of Justice of a Superior Court other than the Chief Justice or for the removal of the Chairman of a Regional Tribunal, he shall refer the petition to the Chief Justice, who shall determine whether there is a prima facie case.”
The statement said, “On the advice of the Judicial Council, the Vice President, Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, acting in his capacity as President of the Republic of Ghana on Friday, October 2, 2015, suspended from office with immediate effect ,seven (7) out of the 12 Justices of the High Court on grounds of stated misbehaviour. Their suspension is pursuant to article 146 (10)(b) of the 1992 Constitution.
The affected Justices are:
His Lordship Justice Francis K. Opoku
His Lordship Justice Kofi Essel Mensah
His Lordship Justice John AjetNasam
His Lordship Justice Ernest Obimpeh
His Lordship Justice Kwame OheneEssel
Her Ladyship Justice Ivy Heward-Mills (Mrs.)
His Lordship Justice Gilbert Ayisi Addo
The suspension of the seven justices, the Judicial Council observed “follows the establishment of a prima facie case of stated misbehavior against them by the Hon. Lady Chief Justice pursuant to article 146 (3) of the constitution and the setting up of a Committee under article 146 (4) to investigate the petition.”
The Committee consists of three Justices of the Superior Courts, that is, a Justice of the Supreme Court who is Chairperson, and two Justices of the Court of Appeal appointed by the Judicial Council and two other persons appointed on the advice of the Council of State, who are neither members of the Council of State, nor members of Parliament, nor lawyers.
The Attorney-General has been requested to provide a State Attorney to assist the Committee in its work whilst a Deputy Director at the Judicial Service will serve as the Secretary to the Committee.
The Chief Justice has decided to suspend the determination of a prima facie case in respect of Justice Mustapha Logoh and Justice Paul Uuter Dery, who were cited in the petition, as a result of the actions instituted by them against her and tigereyepi, which are pending in court.
The proceedings against Justice Charles Quist, have been deferred on grounds of ill-health, following a medical report submitted by his physician on his state of health.
Meanwhile, tigerepi has written to the Chief Justice informing her that the inclusion of Justice Daniel Obeng, a Justice of the High Court, in the petition for the removal from office was an error.
According to tigereyepi, further investigations indicate that the Judge they dealt with was rather Emmanuel Opare, a Circuit Court Judge. Our records at the Judicial Service have confirmed that at the time the investigations were conducted by tigereyepi, in August 2015, Justice Daniel Obeng, had been elevated to the High Court and transferred to the Northern Region.
The Council had previously suspended 22 junior judges who appeared in the video and investigated the conduct of high court judges to see if there was a case for their impeachment.
Some of the judges had denied any wrongdoing and had filed a challenge in court, saying their suspension had no legal basis because documents relating to the video that were submitted by the journalist were not made available to them.
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