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General News Sat, 25 Jan 2020

Chief Justice petitioned to remove judge on NCA trial

Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, the first accused person in the National Communications Authority (NCA) case involving the purchase of an Israeli spy device, has petitioned the Chief Justice, Kwesi Ani Yeboah, to remove the trial judge, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, because he is afraid the judge, will not give him a fair trial.

In the petition dated January 20, 2020, Mr Baffoe-Bonnie, accused the trial judge of being “glaringly bias” and exhibiting many incidences of anger towards him, hence wants him changed.

He further asked the Chief Justice to investigate the content of a video by a Journalist, Kevin Ekow Taylor, in which some serious allegations were made against Justice Kyei Baffour regarding the NCA case.

“Your Lordship, based on all these unfortunate incidences of anger expressed by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour towards me, in addition to the already documented incidences of glaringly bias behavior of Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, I have come to a reasonable conclusion that I will NOT get a fair and just trial under the Lordship of Justice Eric Kyei Baffour. In this respect, I’m urgently appealing to your Lordship to call for an investigation into these matters and while these investigations are initiated, it is my humble plea to your Lordship for Justice Eric Kyei Baffour to recuse himself from this case”, the petitioner said.

The petition intercepted by The Herald stated that in the said video, Mr Taylor had alleged “that Justice Eric Kyei Baffour is being manipulated by this government to achieve a desirable/favourable outcome for the government. His Lordship Justice Eric Kyei Baffour in one of his earlier court proceedings in 2019, made a statement to the effect that that “he represents the state and therefore will not tolerate these foolish applications” this was when my defence counsel had made an Application on my behalf. This allegation made by Kevin Ekow Taylor against Justice Eric Kyei Baffour as being compromised has raised some serious concerns/anxieties which will bother on miscarriage of justice if Justice Eric Kyei Baffour does not recuse himself from this case. Hence, my humble plea to your Lordship for a thorough investigation”.

According to Mr Baffoe-Bonnie, the allegations against Justice Kyei Baffour, are verifiable through an investigation which the Chief Justice, must carry out.

“Kevin Taylor mentioned specific names in the video with respect to both high profile government and non-government individuals, who behind the scenes, have been communicating with Justice Eric Kyei Baffour to influence him on the determination of the outcome of the NCA case. Kevin Taylor made mention of audios that are in his possession to prove these allegations”, the petition said.

Below is the full petition by Mr Baffoe-Bonnie, who served as Board Chairman of NCA when the spy device was bought for the National Security Council.

PETITION FOR THE RECUSAL OF HIS LORDSHIP JUSTICE ERIC KYEI BAFFOUR IN SUIT NO. CR/904/2017 – THE REPUBLIC VERSUS EUGENE BAFFOE-BONNIE & 4 OTHERS AND TRANSFER OF THE SUIT TO ANOTHER JUSTICE FOR TRIAL.

I, the undersigned (Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie) is the first accused person in the case referenced above which is being tried in the High Court by His Lordship Mr. Justice Kyei Baffour.

Your Lordship, my documented fears/anxieties about not getting a fair trial under the Lordship Justice Eric Kyei Baffour seem to have been heightened by a recent development as borne out by a video being circulated in the social media which was created by a journalist by the name of Kevin Ekow Taylor. In this video, Kevin Ekow Taylor made some serious allegations against Justice Eric Kyei Baffour regarding the NCA case. These allegations against Justice Eric Kyei Baffour are verifiable through an investigation that can be conducted by your Lordship.

In this said video, Kevin Ekow Taylor made the following “summarized” allegations:

That Justice Eric Kyei Baffour is being manipulated by this government to achieve a desirable/favourable outcome for the government. His Lordship Justice Eric Kyei Baffour in one of his earlier court proceedings in 2019, made a statement to the effect that that “he represents the state and therefore will not tolerate these foolish applications” this waswhen my defence counsel had made an Application on my behalf.

This allegation made by Kevin Ekow Taylor against Justice Eric Kyei Baffour as being compromised has raised some serious concerns/anxieties which will bother on miscarriage of justice if Justice Eric Kyei Baffour does not recuse himself from this case. Hence, my humble plea to your Lordship for a thorough investigation.

Kevin Taylor mentioned specific names in the video with respect to both high profile government and non-government individuals, who behind the scenes, have been communicating with Justice Eric Kyei Baffour to influence him on the determination of the outcome of the NCA case. Kevin Taylor made mention of audios that are in his possession to prove these allegations.

That Justice Eric Kyei Baffour is a partisan judge who has been mischievously twisting the law to render a favorable verdict for the government.

That Justice Eric Kyei Baffour was “hurriedly promoted to execute the government’s agenda” to the extent that the case was “jumped straight” to the Commercial Court presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour so that he can execute this “government’s agenda”. He added that Justice Eric Kyei is “seriously doing the bidding of the president and more importantly the bidding of the National Security Minister Mr. Kan Dapaah”.

Kevin Taylor also alleged in this video, that the charge of causing financial loss to the state is being used as a political weapon in the NCA case and therefore he (Kevin Taylor) will resist any attempt to use this alleged accusation as a political weapon and therefore will always seek for a fair trial.

In the same video, Kevin Taylor said that in the weeks to come, he will release audios and videos of Justice Eric Kyei Baffour’s interactions with these people and how Mr. Kan Dapaah wants to use the court to “settle personal issue between himself and myself. Kevin Taylor made a serious allegation that Mr. Kan Dapaah and myself “are chasing the same lady”. According to Kevin Taylor, Mr. Kan Dapaah suspects that I’m the real father of Kan Dapaah’s kids.

Your Lordship, Mr. Kevin Ekow Taylor’s allegations, which are verifiable, are so numerous that I would rather implore your Lordship to conduct His own investigations into these allegations against Justice Eric Kyei Baffour who seems to be redirecting his anger at Mr. Kevin Taylor on me instead. Irrefutably, Mr. Kevin Taylor’s video has made Justice Eric Kyei Baffour extremely angry as he directed his anger towards me by his constant insults and frivolous ridicule of me on my “American influenced accent” which he referred to as “slanging”.

He sternly cautioned me not to “slang” in his courtroom and should resist from hiding behind the “American influenced accent”. At one point in his delivery, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour assumed that I had lived in the Bronx part of New York hence, in his opinion, the reason behind my “slanging” to which I reminded him that was not the case. In Justice Eric Kyei Baffour’s mind, the American pronunciation of the word “process” equates to “slanging” which is completely false. These personal attacks on me have significantly raised the “temperature” of my anxieties/fears and therefore I do not feel that I will get a fair trial under the Lordship of Justice Eric Kyei Baffour.

On the 14th of January, 2020, at the conclusion of the court’s proceedings for the day, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour openly addressed the courtroom regarding Mr. Kevin Taylor’s video that was being circulated in the social media. He made long disparaging comments about Mr. Kevin Taylor in addition to his characterization of Mr. Kevin Ekow Taylor as being a scoundrel. A visibly angry Justice Eric Kyei Baffour then said that Mr. Kevin Taylor had “surrogates” in his courtroom and, as far as he was concerned, the “surrogates” and Mr. Kevin Taylor will not succeed to tarnish his reputation as was equally demonstrated in the cocaine case that he presided over some years back. Justice Eric Kyei Baffour then went on to describe himself as an honest and fair-minded Justice by quoting the Bible to support this assertion.

To the best of my knowledge, I, Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie do not consider myself as a “surrogate” of Mr. Kevin Taylor, a person I do not even know. To this end, the burden is on Justice Eric Kyei Baffour to back up his claim about who the so called “surrogates” were in his courtroom and should not have redirected his anger at me.

On the 16th of January, 2020 around 10:20am, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour called my case for further cross examination by the prosecution and therefore I was called to stand in the witness box by the clerk. While waiting to be reminded by the clerk of my earlier sworn oath, a visibly angry Justice Eric Kyei Baffour told the clerk to hold off the reminder. I was, without any given reason, left to stand in the witness box for almost 20 minutes while Justice Eric Kyei Baffour wrote and read out his ruling for an “arrest warrant” for Mr. Kevin Taylor.

Once again, a visibly angry Justice Eric Kyei Baffour asked his clerk to remind me of my previous oath. When the proceedings started, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour continued his ridicule/insulting and embarrassing behavior towards me by focusing on my “American influenced accent”. Clearly, based on Justice Eric Kyei Baffour’s angry posture and tone towards me, there were a few murmurs in the courtroom which prompted Justice Eric Kyei Baffour to warn those individuals to be careful otherwise he will cite them for contempt.

Prior to the emergence of Kevin Ekow Taylor’s video, I had documented series of incidences that had taken place before the High Court presided over by His Lordship Justice Kyei Baffour.

I write to humbly request that in the exercise of your constitutional and statutory power as Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, you transfer the above suit from the High Court presided over by His Lordship Mr. Justice Eric Kyei Baffour to another Justice for continuation of hearing.

I have been constrained to make this humble request by reason of the conduct of His Lordship Mr. Justice Eric Kyei Baffour. This Judge has in many ways and on so many occasions been unable to hide the fact that he perceives his responsibility as the Judge in charge of the case to ensure that the prosecution secures a conviction by all and any means possible.

Throughout the proceedings, His Lordship Mr. Justice Eric Kyei Baffour has openly demonstrated his bias, prejudice and interest in the proceedings by deferring to the prosecution’s preferred manner for conducting the case even in the face of valid objections to such action by the prosecution and above all showing defiant and unacceptable hostility to my defence lawyers anytime my lawyers insist on any right to which I am entitled.

Your Lordship, I will just state the documented incidents which justify my present petition to you humbly requesting your urgent intervention.

On the 2nd of July 2019, the learned Justice descended into downright insults on my counsel Abu Juan Jagrara who had in the exercise of my right, filed a motion…on my behalf. His language was very derogatory and with all due respect very unprofessional.

On the 2nd of July, 2019 The learned Justice asked my counsel Abu Juan Jagrara to move an Application filed on my behalf for a stay of the court’s proceedings. The learned Justice for no reason at all flared into tantrums and instantly addressed my counsel thus;

“You don’t know what you are doing”.

“This is a foolish application”.

“I represent the state and therefore will not entertain such foolish applications since they are meant to delay the court’s proceedings”.

The language quoted above was uttered by His Lordship Mr. Eric Kyei Baffour in the presence of three (3) journalists from the Associated Press who were in the courtroom and can corroborate the utterances quoted above. Indeed, the learned Justice did not hide his deference to the prosecution when he added that the prosecution did not have to respond to my application which he repeatedly called “foolish” adding that the prosecution should rather save the “ink in their pens”.

The learned Judge’s conduct and his glaring show of passion and unalloyed deference to the prosecution stating in unequivocal terms that he represents the state thereby indicating as justified by his statements and conduct that he holds the scales of justice tilting in favour of the prosecution in my view is contrary to the judicial oath sworn by the learned Judge to uphold justice without fear or favour and also the Code of Conduct for Judges and Magistrates.

With respect, I humbly crave the indulgence of Your Lordship to state some parts of the Code of Conduct for Judges and Magistrates, which I think are relevant to our petition. Rules 1 and 2 of the Code of Conduct for Judges and Magistrates are headed; Upholding the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary and Avoiding Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in all of the Judge’s activities respectively and provide thus;

“Rule 1

An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should maintain and enforce high standards of conduct, and should personally observe those standards so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary is preserved.

Rule 2A

A judge shall respect and comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

The commentary on rule 2A says that;

“Public confidence in the judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct by judges. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. A judge must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny. A judge must therefore accept restrictions on the judge’s conduct that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen.

The prohibition against behaving with impropriety or the appearance of impropriety applies to both the professional and personal conduct of a judge. Because it is not practicable to list all prohibited acts, the proscription is necessarily cast in general terms that extend to conduct by judges that is harmful although not specifically mentioned in the Code. The test for impropriety is whether the conduct would create in reasonable minds a perception that the judge’s ability to carry out judicial responsibilities with integrity, impartiality and competence is impaired.”

Your Lordship, the language quoted above and the learned Judge’s disposition towards my defence counsels is certainly improper and definitely creates in the minds of many who attend his court to observe the proceedings that his Lordship Mr. Justice Eric Kyei Baffour carry out his judicial responsibilities with integrity, impartiality and with the requisite competence required

Justice Eric Kyei Baffour’s decision on several occasions to relieve the prosecution even of the obligation to be heard on matters by answering issues that the prosecution must be heard on to enable the Judge deliver a ruling or take a position on the matter leaves me panicking because the Judge has in many ways told me that I would not be given a fair chance to the extent that he presides over the case.

He plainly descends into the arena of conflict and expresses his opinions and takes positions favourable to the prosecution by waiving the need for the prosecution to even respond.

Justice Kyei Baffour’s comments that he represents the state and therefore will not tolerate these foolish applications from my defence counsel left me virtually confused because based on my basic understanding of the 1992 Constitutional of the Republic of Ghana regarding the separation of powers with the Judiciary operating as an independent entity.

By telling the prosecution “to save the ink in their pens” in opposing my Application, the Judge sufficiently demonstrated to me that at that point not only was Justice Eric Kyei Baffour making the prosecution’s case for them but he had rather assumed the role of the prosecution and consequently cannot give me a fair trial according to the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana. He further categorically made a statement in his ruling on the 2nd of July where he stated that “By Court – Prosecution not called upon to answer”.

After making those unacceptable statements, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour could not hide his emotions. He proceeded to pour them out thus;

“And looking at the nature of this Application, with its frivolous nature, it would have been a total waste of the time of Prosecution even to have filed an Affidavit in opposition”.

Justice Eric Kyei Baffour’s abusive behavior continued on the hearing held on 4th of July, 2019 where he made a personal attack on the Counsel for third Accused by asserting that the counsel does not deserve to be at the bar.

In one of the hearings, after the Prosecution led by DPP Yvonne Obuobisa, had finished making her submission and sat down, Justice Eric Kyei Baffour remarked that “No you have not finished” which appeared as if their interactions had been choregraphed in advance “behind the scenes” before the actual proceedings started in his courtroom.

At that point, the DPP stood up and said that she had finished with her submission. Justice Eric Kyei Baffour’s deference to the Prosecution is inexplicable including his exponentially deliberate attempts to help the Prosecution in making its case. Unquestionably, these efforts of his sent me a clear message that I will NOT have a fair trial in his courtroom as I open up my defence. Hence, my petition to have Justice Eric Kyei Baffour recuse himself from this trial.

It is abundantly clear that Justice Eric Kyei Baffour is frustrated with my defence Counsels’ primarily and overriding objective to defend me as their client. Some of his comments are borderline “unethical” For example, on this day, he suggested that all the defence Counsels could have submitted ONLY one (1) Application for the Stay of Proceedings losing sight of the fact that all the Accused persons have different legal representations with different interests to protect.

I also refer to the commentary on rule 3 of the Code of Conduct for Judges and Magistrates which I believe bears out my current frustration. It says that the duty to conduct proceedings fairly and with patience is not inconsistent with the duty to dispose promptly of the business of the court. Judges can be efficient and businesslike while being patient and deliberate.

It goes on to say that a judge’s patience may be taxed and trespassed upon not only by unreasonable and vexatious litigants, but sometimes by well- meaning and boring submissions of lawyers and that a judge who makes it a habit of insulting or being rude to either litigants or lawyers may lose his self-respect and may encounter rude behaviour or rude language. My lawyers and I have notwithstanding the learned Judge’s conduct shown respect and utmost decorum to the Court and the Judge.

The Code of Conduct for judges also says clear that judges must perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice. It forbids Judges in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct, manifest bias or prejudice, from giving impressions of bias and prejudice. The Code also exhorts Judges to refrain from speech, gestures, or other conduct that could reasonably be perceived as evidencing bias or prejudice.

Your Lordship, I could give so many examples of instances in which the Judge has breached the Code which guides his duties. I’m willing to submit myself for my trial to proceed before another Justice of the High Court where I’m hopeful that the Judge will conduct proceedings in a manner that gives me confidence that my trial will be fair.

I have been advised by my lawyers that it may entail the trial of the case afresh but my investigations have confirmed to me that the transfer of the case for continuation of hearing before another Justice must not necessarily involve a fresh trial.

In any case, if a fresh trial ensures that I get a fair trial, a fresh trial must not be a barrier to such a situation especially having regard to the facts just stated.

I trust that I will hear from you soon on my petition.

Your Lordship, based on all these unfortunate incidences of anger expressed by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour towards me, in addition to the already documented incidences of glaringly bias behavior of Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, I have come to a reasonable conclusion that I will NOT get a fair and just trial under the Lordship of Justice Eric Kyei Baffour. In this respect, I’m urgently appealing to your Lordship to call for an investigation into these matters and while these investigations are initiated, it is my humble plea to your Lordship for Justice Eric Kyei Baffour to recuse himself from this case.

ENCLOSED in this package is Mr. Kevin Taylor’s video

Yours faithfully,

EUGENE BAFFOE-BONNIE
Source: The Herald
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