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Chief Justice must now step aside in the interest of fairness and administration of justice

Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, Chief Justice of Ghana

Wed, 14 Jul 2021 Source: Kofi Pratt

Folks, this short piece is without prejudice nor malice against the person of the Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah but a genuine call in the interest of the administration of justice in Ghana following serious allegations contained in a petition filed at the General Legal Council involving a lawyer, Mr. Akwasi Afrifa and his former client, Ogyeedom Obranu Kwasi Atta VI.

This is a highly sensitive legal case that has ramifications for the administration of justice. Note that nothing has been proven and this in no way accepts that the CJ is guilty in any way.

Nor does it imply a belief in the accusations so far levelled. But as most of you may be aware, the CJ himself has found the allegations serious enough to refer the matter to police CID to investigate.

It has also come to light that a Civil Society Organisation, ASEPA, has petitioned both the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the speaker of parliament to conduct a full investigation. In addition to the fact that the General Legal Council (GLC) by virtue of its position as the body looking into the original case.

Also, let me put on record that the lawyer in trying to defend himself has not made any allegations against the CJ. He has not said he was aware of the bribery or the demands for money.

What he has done in trying to defend himself is merely recount and report a conversation with his former client in which he alleges claims made by the client. He is not stating that those claims by his client are true or false. All he is saying is that his client made those claims.

It is not a secret that the Chief Justice is also the Chairman of the GLC. While not impugning the integrity of the CJ by this call, his own refusal to step aside until this case is disposed of properly and all investigations concluded and cleared him may impugn his integrity.

Because as it stands, as chairman of the GLC, he would be sitting in “his own course “and his position as chairman even though unintended, may create the appearance of bias and create the impression of an undue influence on those who may need to take decisions on this case.

Also as the constitutional head of the judiciary and the highest judge of the land, it does not look good for the country if the sitting head of the judiciary is being investigated while he remains the head of the same judiciary, however unfounded the allegations may be.

This is the person who is the forth in line to be president in case of the unforeseen, which theoretically mean he could be making appointments to high offices etc.

The natural tendency of persons dealing with him to favour him is not an exaggeration. There is precedence for this in that when the former chair of CHRAJ was being investigated, she had to step aside.

Also under President Kuffour, one of his ministers, Dr. Anane resigned to fight a case at CHRAJ and was re-appointed only after his name was cleared.

The CJ has himself, demonstrated the seriousness of the situation by causing a report to be made to the CID for investigations. The reputation and the integrity of the administration of justice will suffer if he remains at post whiles the case is pending at the GLC disciplinary board involving Mr. Afrifa which puts the CJ at the centre of it.

And even though, I do not agree that the CJ has the right to “abuse” his administrative office by referring the case to the CID instead of personally and voluntarily cooperating with the full official investigations by CHRAJ if it decides to go ahead, I believe the right thing to do now to restore faith and trust in the justice system is to now recognise that his continued stay in office at this time as CJ, could create the unfortunate impression of bias and may well compromise an effective investigation.

THE PEOPLE MUST TRUST AND HAVE UNADULTERATED FAITH IN THE OUTCOME OF ANY INVESTIGATIONS.

I am also not unaware of the fact that this CJ has within this very short period in office as such, been involved in too many legal and political controversies that does not seem to do his office and his image much good.

I recall his appearance at a political party organised event in Kumasi recently, his role at the Supreme Court during the electoral petition of 2020 and how some lawyers found themselves on his wrong side when decisions and rulings were either challenged or criticised.

(What comes to mind immediately is Dr. Ayine, former Deputy Attorney-General’s invitation for contempt and later reported to the disciplinary committee of the GLC for comments he was entitled to make as a lawyer, a member of a reviewing panel, a party to the SC petition and a citizen of Ghana.

While throwing my full support behind His Lordship, Justice Anim Yeboah as a legal giant, who remains innocent, with all his credibility and integrity intact, until otherwise proven, in the interests of fair play, the administration of justice, and the image of the judiciary and the country, I call on him to without further delay step aside as the Chief Justice and head of the judiciary of Ghana until he is cleared by either his own request to the CID, parliament or CHRAJ.

In my view (and purely in my view) if he does not do this, parliament must in the national interest, pass a resolution or motion to require him to do so.

Also, the judicial council itself must see the logic in this call and the damage his continued presence will cause the administration of justice and the burden it places on the perception of impartiality and have a back room meeting with him to advise that he takes the only honourable route open to him at this time.

May I also humbly implore the Ghana Bar Association and other CSOs to look at the seriousness of what it does to the image of the judicial system and the administration thereof of Ghana and join what is likely to become the loud chorus for the CJ to step aside now.

Some of you well vested in constitutional and legal matters may have better ideas and better suggestions on how to make this process impartial and I hope that this being an open national discussion in a true democracy, you will not shy away from making your voices head and from making the right call. I thank you.

Columnist: Kofi Pratt
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