Fall-Outs From Ya-Na Murder Trial
JUSTICE OPPONG VRS ATTORNEY-GENERAL
… The Records Of Proceedings Of August 16, 2010 & The ‘Bombshell Ruling’ Of August 23, 2010 Unveiled!
By Our Legal Desk
The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC)’s spirited attacks on the integrity of the Ghanaian Judiciary in recent times, assumed a new dimension last week Monday when a Justice of the High Court, Anthony Oppong rescued himself from the trial of Iddrisu Iddi alias Madugu and 14 others in the Ya Naa murder case.
Justice Oppong’s decision to “invoke section 104 of the Court’s Act, 1993, Act 459 and crave the indulgence of Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, in all humility and with the greatest respect, to transfer this case from this court”, was occasioned by an allegation of bias raised against him by the Prosecution in the name of the Republic on the grounds that he had allegedly made some prejudicial comments on the case to some people at a drinking bar.
Emphasizing the point that he did not feel safe at all in handling the case, in view of the threats of the NDC to ‘clean the judiciary’, Justice Oppong underscored that he “WILL NOT TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED BECAUSE THIS COUNTRY HAS A HISTORY”.
“I have gone through very low moments because of these unsubstantiated accusations but I console myself in the fact that the legal fraternity who are better placed to assess me do not regard me as a bad and irresponsible alcoholic judge as Barton Oduru, Esquire and his party wanted the Ghanaian pubic to believe”, lamented Justice Oppong.
He pleaded in the name of the Almighty God that the lawyers at the AG’s Department and their superiors will “stop these useless propaganda against the Bench and get their acts together as professional lawyers instead of appearing as political stooges”.
Justice Oppong made it clear that he had been confronted with “the weirdest and unmeritorious application by no other personality than the Attorney-General per Anthony Rexford Wiredu, Esquire, Principal State Attorney”, and lamented that at the same time, he had “been disabled from knowing the factual and legal basis of the application”.
It will be recalled that the Deputy Attorney-General, Mr. Barton Oduru recently went on the rampage on various radio networks, casting innuendos and insinuations to the effect that a judge who goes to a drinking bar to make prejudicial comments on a case before him, cannot be expected to dispense justice fairly, and could therefore be legitimately required to rescue himself from a trial.
THE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL ALSO CLAIMED THAT HE HAD A TAPE RECORDING TO PROVE THAT WHAT HE WAS ALLUDING TO HAD TRANSPIRED, RELATIVE TO THE YA NAA MURDER TRIAL, HENCE THE PRELIMINARY OBJECTION TO JUSTICE OPPONG’S HANDLING OF THE CASE ON BASIS OF BIAS, RAISED ON AUGUST 16, 2010.
Barton Oduru’s unsubstantiated allegation and innuendos and insinuations, subsequently provided the grounds for a series of attacks on the integrity and independence of the Judiciary by some media houses, political activists, social commentators and serial callers who might have assumed that the Deputy Attorney-General was referring to Justice Anthony Oppong!
“DRUNK JUDGE IN TROUBLE
…As A-G Files Motion To Oust Him From Ya-Na’s Murder Trial”, was one screaming headline by the pro-NDC Daily Post newspaper on August 20, 2010; clearly a fall-out from the innuendos and insinuations cast by Barton Oduru on radio in relation to the Ya-Na Murder Trial.
Published below for the perusal of readers are the records of proceedings of August 16, 2010 and August 23, 2010, both of which sufficiently capture the sequence and trajectory of events in the unfolding saga.
Please read on & stay tuned.
IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUDICATURE, IN THE AUTOMATED/FAST TRACK COURT (CRIMINAL) HELD IN ACCRA ON MONDAY, THE 16TH DAY OF AUGUST, 2010
SUIT NO. BIND. 14/2010
*CORAM: ANTHONY OPPONG
JUSTICE OF THE HIGH COURT
*1. IDDRISU IDDI alias MADUGU & 14 OTHERS.
*1ST ACCUSED PERSON – PRESENT.
*OTHER ACCUSED PERSONS – ABSENT IN LAWFUL CUSTODY
*PROSECUTION: REXFORD WIREDU-(PSA) WITH HIM IS MR. SOLOMON ATADZE (PSA)
*COUNSEL: PHILIP ADDISON FOR THE ACCUSED PERSONS,
WITH HIM ARE ATTA AKYEA AND ABUKARI ABDULAI
*BY COURT: In view of the absence of the other accused persons, I am wondering whether it will be appropriate to do the empanelling for purposes of trial. Because I thought if a matter is to be tried, the Accused persons ought to be present. So what have come for their absence?
*R. WIREDU: My Lord, according to the investigator, they were not told to bring the Accused persons to court today. According to them they did not have any Hearing notice, and that they only heard it, and then they rang me this Morning when I was preparing to come to court, and that we should take a Date to enable them bring the accused persons.
*BY COURT: Counsel for Accused, were you served with Hearing Notice to appear today?
*P. ADDISON: No My Lord, we were also not served with hearing notice, it was a rumour, so I called my learned friend, he said he was also not aware of it. So he called the Prosecutor who then confirmed that this matter was indeed coming on this morning, otherwise we had no idea of the matter coming on today.
*R. WIREDU: My Lord, we had our notice on Wednesday. So on Thursday, I reported here. I don’t know which court will be sitting. So I came to the Registrar, Mr. Gyimah, and he told me it is coming to this court. So I came to Madam who confirmed that the matter was coming on here today. We had the notice very late.
*BY COURT: Is it possible we can come tomorrow?
*P. ADDISON: Very well My Lord.
*R. WIREDU: My Lord, with the greatest respect, if we can come on Wednesday, it will help me, because I am now going to inform the Police. AND MY LORD, IF EVEN WE WILL COME TOMORROW, I HAVE A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION.
*BY COURT: About?
*R. WIREDU: ABOUT YOU SITTING ON THIS MATTER IN ACCRA HERE.
*BY COURT: Why?
*P. WIREDU: MY LORD, RESPECTFULLY, WE HAVE TO RAISE A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION TO YOUR SITTING IN THIS CASE ON THE GROUND OF …., OF BIAS. MY LORD, OUR GROUNDS ARE THAT, (INTERRUPTION BY COURT)
*BY COURT: Mr. Anthony Rexford Wiredu, I have just said that, in view of the absence of the Accused persons, we do not intend doing any business.
*P. WIREDU: WE DO NOT INTEND DOING ANY BUSINESS, BUT WE WILL COME HERE, AND I WILL SAY THE SAME THING, SO IT WILL BE USELESS GOING AND COMING AGAIN.
*BY COURT: WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT THE BENCH, FOR PURPOSES OF THIS CASE WILL BE BIAS? AT ANY RATE, ARE YOU FOR THE ACCUSED PERSONS OR FOR THE REPUBLIC?
*R. WIREDU: My Lord, I am for the Republic, and I have been for the Republic for about twenty something years.
*BY COURT: And you object to me sitting on this case?
*R. WIREDU: Yes My Lord.
*BY COURT: ON GROUNDS OF BIAS?
*R. WIREDU:YES MY LORD. THIS IS A PRELIMINARY ONE. WE INTEND EVEN FILLING FORMAL MOTION TO THAT EFFECT.
*BY COURT: I don’t think we have to belabour the point. Essentially the accused Persons are not here. If they were here, I would have set the processes for trial. But for the fact that they are not here, I don’t intend doing that. But if you will come tomorrow, and you could come with all the accused persons, and you have that preliminary point of the objection, you can raise it formally. But I would have even preferred that you put it in a form of a motion with a supporting affidavit for the other side to also respond. And thereupon when the two (2) are heard, then I will be in a position to rule as to whether or not your objection is something that can be sustained or otherwise. So you hold your peace, I am adjourning the matter to tomorrow, with the expectation that you will bring the Accused persons.
*R. WIREDU: I am not objecting to the sitting of tomorrow. I am trying to say that tomorrow will be too close, because I am now going to tell the D.C.O. about the arrangement to bring the accused persons to court. So most conveniently, if it will be on Wednesday.
*BY COURT: In view of what you are intimating, I will adjourn the matter to next week, with the expectation that, you will file your application deposing to matters by which you contend that, I am bias as far as the hearing of this case is concerned, and then that will enable the other side to have about 2 days to respond. And then when we come next week, we will take the application formally, because whether or not I will hear this case, will depend on that sort of process that you intend embarking upon. So I will adjourn the matter to a week from today which is 23rd August. 2010. You might file the application tomorrow – 17th August, 2010. Mr. Rexford Wiredu, do you have any idea as to when the matter should be adjourn to? I think the 2 of you can agree, once defence counsel is here, agree and suggest a date and let me see whether it can be accommodated.
*R. WIREDU: No My Lord.
*BY COURT: Is Monday, the 23rd of August, 2010 agreed?
*P. ADDISON: Yes My Lord.
*BY COURT: MR. REXFORD WIREDU, PRINCIPAL STATE ATTORNEY INTIMATES THAT HE HAS A PRELIMINARY OBJECTION TO RAISE WITH RESPECT TO ME IN TRYING THIS CASE. HE HAS BEEN ADVISED TO PUT THE OBJECTION IN THE FORM OF A MOTION WITH SUPPORTING AFFIDAVIT. In view of the absence of the accused persons, except 1st Accused coupled with the intimation from the learned Principal State Attorney, the case is adjourned to Monday, the 23rd day of August, 2010.
*R. WIREDU: As the court directs.
*(sgd.) ANTHONY OPPONG
JUSTICE OF THE HIGH COURT
August 16, 2010
IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUDICTURE, IN THE AUTOMATED/FAST TRACK COURT (CRIMINAL) HELD IN ACCRA ON MONDAY, THE 23RD DAY OF AUGUST, 2010
SUIT NO. BIND. 14/2010
*CORAM: ANTHONY OPPONG
JUSTICE OF THE HIGH COURT.
*1. IDDRISI IDDI alias MADUGU
*2. ALHAJI BABA ABDULAI @ ZOHE
*3. KWAME ALHASSAN @ ACHIRI
*4. MOHAMADU ABDULAI @ SAMASAMA
*5. SAYIBU MOHAMMED
*6. ALHASSAN BRAIMA
*7. ZAKARIA YAKUBU @ ZAKARI FOREST
*8. MOHAMMED HABIB TIJANI
*9. BABA IBRAHIM @ BABA ZEY
*10. ALHASSAN MOHAMMED @ MOHAMMED CHEAMPON
*11. MOHAMMED MUSTAPHA
*12. SHANI IMORO
*13. YAKUBU YUSIF @ LEFTEE
*14. HAMMED ABUKARI YUSSIF
*15. ABDUL RAZAK YUSSIF @ NYAA
*ACCUSED – ALL PRESENT
*PROSECUTION: REXFORD WIREDU – (PSA) WITH HIM IS MR. SOLOMON ATADZE (PSA)
*COUNSEL: PHILIP ADDISON ESQ, WITH HIM ARE ATTA AKYEA KWAME AKUFFO AND ABUKARI ABDULAI
*BY COURT: Mr. Wiredu, please have you filed the application I directed you to file?
*R.A. WIREDU: Yes My Lord, I have filed it.
*BY COURT: Do you have a copy on my docket?
*R.A. WIREDU: I do not know, but I filed it on the 20th day of August, 2010.
*BY COURT: Do you have a copy on my docket?
*R. A. WIREDU: I do not know, but I filed it on the 20th day of August, 2010.
*BY COURT: What application is that?
*R.A. WIREDU: Motion on Notice for Judicial Review – Order of Prohibition.
*BY COURT: THIS IS NOT WHAT I DIRECTED YOU TO FILE. YOU ACCUSED ME OF BEING BIAS, AND I ASKED YOU TO PUT THIS APPLICATION ON NOTICE, AND THEN SUPPORT IT WITH AN AFFIDAVIT BY WHICH YOU DEPOSE TO THE MATERIAL FACT BY WHICH YOU STAND BY FOR THE GROUNDS OF THE APPLICATION OF THE BIAS. BUT WHAT YOU HAVE FILED IS QUITE DIFFERENT FROM WHAT I DIRECTED YOU TO FILE.
*R.A. WIREDU: You directed me to file a formal application, you never asked me to file A certiorari, an injunction or otherwise.
*BY COURT: Well I have some short piece of ruling that I intend delivering this morning, But I will rise to chambers for some 5 – 10 minutes and then I will come and read it to the court.
*R. A. WIREDU: My Lord, without hearing us?
*BY COURT: Your application has not been fixed before me. Is there a return date on your application?
*R.A. WIREDU: My Lord, there is no return date. The Registrar said date could be fixed. That is what the Registrar said.
*BY COURT: Mr. Wiredu, as long as the Registrar has not fixed this application or placed it before this court, I am not seized with that application. I am not going to hear that application. You are asking for Judicial Review for Prohibition?
*R.A. WIREDU: Yes My Lord.
*BY COURT: Do you expect that the very Judge against whom the application has been filed will be the Judge that will hear the application?
*R.A. WIREDU: You said I should file it and you will rule on it.
*BY COURT: I will rise and come very shortly.
*SHORT BREAK BY COURT:
*BY COURT: RULING
I must confess that for the ten (10) years that I have been privileged to sit on the Ghanaian Bench initially as a Circuit Judge and now as a High Court Judge, the past few days since 16th August, 2010 proved to be the lowest moments for me.
I have been confronted with the weirdest and unmeritorious application by no other personality than the Attorney-General per Anthony Rexford Wiredu, Esquire, Principal State Attorney.
HIS SUBMISSION WAS THAT I SHOULD RESCUE MYSELF FROM HEARING THIS CASE ON GROUNDS OF BIAS. I DIRECTED HIM TO FILE A MOTION TO THAT EFFECT. TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE THE DIRECTIVE I GAVE HAS NOT BEEN RESPECTED. HOWEVER HE INFORMED ME THIS MORNING THAT HE HAS FILED AN APPLICATION FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW. AS I SIT HERE THIS MORNING, I HAVE NOT BEEN SERVED WITH ANY SUCH APPLICATION. THUS I HAVE BEEN DISABLED FROM KNOWING THE FACTUAL AND THE LEGAL BASIS OF THE APPLICATION.
Nevertheless, taking Judicial Notice of some news items and what Barton Oduro, Esq. the Learned Deputy Attorney-General said on air, I have a fair idea as to the reasons behind the application.
Barton Oduro, Esq. accused me of being a drunkard and being irresponsible enough to have gone to a drinking bar and under the influence of alcohol made prejudicial comments about this case. I vehemently deny this. I have never been to a drinking bar and made any comment whatsoever on this Ya-Naa’s murder case.
I CHALLENGE BARTON ODURO, ESQUIRE TO SUBSTANTIATE THIS ALLEGATION OR RENDER AN UNQUALIFIED APOLOGY TO ME FOR RUNNING ME THAT DOWN.
There is yet a matter that I deem relevant to comment upon. It has to do with the unfortunate impression being peddled that this case is a National Democratic Congress (NDC) case. That is devoid of substance. In any event, the Attorney-General’s office is not an appendage of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). The Attorney-General, the Deputy Attorney-General, all the lawyers in that office are not workers or staff of National Democratic Congress (NDC). They are on the pay roll of the Republic of Ghana and not National Democratic Congress.
It is therefore expected that the Lawyers there must first and foremost see themselves as Professional Lawyers and not party functionaries. They are there to make their expertise and knowledge in the law available in the supreme interest of the Republic of Ghana.
Ya-Naa suffered an unnatural death. These accused persons herein have been accused as those who conspired and killed him. WHAT IS POLITICS ABOUT THIS? THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S DUTY IS TO BRING FORTH COGENT AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE THAT IS CAPABLE OF CONVINCING THE JURY TO RETURN A VERDICT OF GUILTY. THAT IS TO SAY, THIS IS A JURY TRIAL AND THE JUDGE WHO WILL PRONOUNCE THE ACCUSED PERSONS GUILTY OR NOT IS THE JURY AND NOT ME FOR ANYONE TO ACCUSE ME OF BEING BIAS.
PERHAPS BARTON ODURO, ESQUIRE IS FORGETTING THAT BEING DEPUTY ATTORNEY-GENERAL, HE IS THE SECOND LEADER OF THE BAR AND IN THIS REGARD, A HIGHER STANDARD OF LEGAL PRACTICE IS EXPECTED OF HIM. WHY WOULD A PERSON OF THAT CALIBER GO ON RADIO AND USE ME AS A PAWN TO SCORE CHEAP PAROCHIAL POLITICAL POINTS, PAINTING ME AS THE WORST JUDGE IN THIS COUNTRY? HE SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF HIMSELF. HE MUST BE TOLD THAT THAT IS NOT HOW WE TAKE OBJECTIONS TO JUDGES SITTING ON A CASE FOR WHATEVER REASONS.
If he did that to bring disaffection or hatred to me and for that matter the Judiciary, he did nothing worthy of praise because one does not cut his nose to spite his face.
I HAVE FELT INSULTED, SCANDALIZED AND INDEED BASTARDIZED ALL IN THE NAME OF THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S OFFICE ATTEMPT TO PLAY POLITICS WITH THE BENCH IN GENERAL AND WITH ME IN PARTICULAR. I AM NO POLITICIAN. I AM A JUDGE AND HAVE TAKEN OATH TO DISPENSE JUSTICE TO ALL MANNER OF PERSONS IRRESPECTIVE OF WHATEVER.
I will only plead in the name of the Almighty God that they stop these useless propaganda against the Bench and get their acts together as professional lawyers instead of appearing to be political stooges.
I have gone through very low moments because of these unsubstantiated accusations but I console myself in the fact that the legal fraternity who are better placed to assess me do not regard me as a bad and irresponsible alcoholic judge as Barton Oduro, Esquire and his party wanted the Ghanaian public to believe.
Finally, I must quickly put it on record that in view of what is happening in this country, PARTICULARLY THE THREATS OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS (NDC), CHAIRMAN, I DO NOT FEEL SAFE AT ALL IN HANDLING THIS CASE. I WILL NOT TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED BECAUSE THIS COUNTRY HAS A HISTORY. IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES, I WILL INVOKE SECTION 104 OF THE COURT’S ACT, 1993, ACT 459 AND CRAVE THE INDULGENCE OF HER LADYSHIP THE CHIEF JUSTICE, IN ALL HUMILITY AND WITH THE GREATEST RESPECT, TO TRANSFER THIS CASE FROM THIS COURT.
And I so order.
*(sgd.) ANTHONY OPPONG.
JUSTICE OF THE HIGH COURT.
August 23, 2010