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Non-Transparency and Eroding Accountability in the Nation?s Court System

Tue, 7 Feb 2006 Source: Obenewaa, Nana Amma

Mr. John A. Kuffuor
President
Republic of Ghana
Osu Castle Accra, Ghana

Dear Mr. President,

Complicitous Silence: Non-Transparency and Eroding Accountability in the Nation?s Court System

A Matter Between Richard Osam-Duodu and Nana Amma Obenewaah: High Court Case BL637/04

In response to your promise that ?the government would support, expose and prosecute people associated with every genuine allegation that could be proven?, please permit me to break the discomfort of my silence in a case before Judge Kobena Acquaye at Accra High Court # 8. I am disturbed by official inaction about my claim of fraud and influence peddling in the nation?s courts, despite the completion and submission of a report to your office. I am equally stunned by the abrupt hybernation of your recommendations, despite your directive that they be directed to the Inspectorate Division and Judicial Secretary?s office for action. While I happily look forward to the outcome of the investigative report, I am also saddened by the delay in making the recommendations public. The underlying reason for my complaint is to kindle national debate on the latency of injustices and bribery in the nation?s court system and the need for reform to preserve fundamental justice, a constitutional provision that has eluded the nation.

The referenced case involves the theft and sale of my land, and the tendering of falsified documents into evidence by the plaintiff, Richard Osam-Duodu. Despite forensic proof that the plaintiff?s documents were forged, your office has not offered me any explanation as to why an experienced judge allowed a perjured affidavit as evidence. (Please refer to Police Forensic Report to the Land Commission and a subsequent one to Judge Kobena Acquaye on his orders which establishes me and not Richard Osam-Duodu?s as the rightful owner of the land). The submission of the Police Forensic Report to the judge places on him the moral and legal onus to evaluate the balance of evidentiary probabilities amid other documentary submissions before him. While the judge may find it expedient to reverse his own flawed decision, the right thing to do is to restore judicial integrity.

Further evidence of the falsification is the plaintiff?s documents from the Land Commission which bear forged official signatures. While police investigations have traced signatures to certain senior Lands Officials, among them, Samuel Sarpong, who I have seen many times in the soothing embrace of Roger Amudzi, and Graham Addison. In his deposition to the police, Graham Addison stated that he was ?pressured by a senior Lands Officer? to transfer ownership of my property to Richard Osam-Duodu.

Evidence of my assertion can be found with Mr. Patrick Ampewuah, Deputy Director/CID and Ministry of the Attorney General (i.e. the State vs. Emmanuel Roger Amudzi sent on 04/01/2006). Having been vindicated by the police forensic report, which establishes me as the rightful owner of the said property and which indubitably affirms my initial claim that Judge Kobena Acquaye?s erred in procedural and substantive law by allowing the plaintiff to build on my property. The nation would like to know the circumstances behind such a miscarriage of justice from a judge who is touted as one of the nation?s best. While I have gone at great length and breadth to gather credible materials of evidentiary weight and value (i.e. flying home Mr. Carl Josiah Reindorf from London to give signature sample for forensic analysis on the orders of the court and also have my land was finally plotted in my name in 11/2005), the unending gymnastics in court, without any promptings from the Judge Acquaye that the plaintiff attend court to make his case is disconcerting. By lifting the court order without authenticating my documents as the rightful owner, the Judge allowed the plaintiff, Richard Osam-Duodu, the time to speedily complete and move into his new house which is built on my property.

While the plaintiff was the first to initiate interlocutory injunction against me and was granted relief by Judge Kobena Acquaye, the plaintiff has refused to make any physical appearance before the court since February 2005, all of which I have attended. Despite the plaintiff?s disinclination to attend court, Judge Kobena Acquaye continues to preside over the case without any directives to the plaintiff?s counsel, Mr. Jeffrey Quist?s, that he compel his client to come to court.

However, he did not hesitate to order that I produce Carl Josiah Reindorf who was at the time seeking medical treatment in London, England. Despite the fact that Mr. Reindorf left his statement with the police and the Land Commission denying the sale of the said land to Roger Amudzi, I was ordered to bring Mr. Reindorf before the court.

Prior to my counsel raising the question of false representation of plaintiff by one Nii Aryee, Judge Acquaye allowed Nii Aryee to claim to be Richard Osam-Duodu without any objection to the fact that impersonation was criminal. By allowing the case to drag on for reasons of non-attendance, the judge has broken one of the fundamental precepts of the law that ensures the orderly and expeditious disposal of case. In Anglo-American jurisprudence, which the Ghanaian judicature is no exception, the judge by virtue of his or her position must strike out cases where repeated patterns of non-attendance to court is established after a reasonable number of promptings through counsel(s) that they compel parties to the case to attend court. Whereas Richard Osam-Duodu has failed to attend any of the hearings since 02/2005 and has not established a reasonable excuse, the presiding judge has not treated plaintiff?s absence with the seriousness it deserves. While I agree that court adjournments are necessary given the complexity of some cases, adjournment for the reason that the plaintiff is not in the country, (which I have pictorial evidence to disprove) denigrates the integrity of our court system. It further raises suspicions as to where the plaintiff is getting his confidence from without incurring the impatience of the presiding judge.

On 15/12/2005, the plaintiff?s counsel argued that his client was in the process of amending his initial application, a plea which Judge Acquaye granted without questioning why. It was this very application that the plaintiff used in the court in November 2004 to be granted relief to build on my land. This same affidavit pleaded with the court that I should be restrained with my agents and persons directed by me from entering the land. It also stated that I came with the police to stop work on the land and that I should be compelled by the court to make restitution for lost wages, cost of building and loss of time. On 22/12/2005, the amendment on the same application reads that the plaintiff was not notified that I was the owner of the said land. He further contends in his amended affidavit that he is an innocent buyer and at no point in time was he given formal notice that the land was in dispute. If this is the case, (a) how does Richard Osam-Duodu explain the basis for the court initially ruling in his favour (b) how does he explain his invitation to the Police Headquarters, Greater Accra Striking Force and Criminal Investigation Office, and (c) how does he explain the many letters from the Lands Commission which informed him that Roger Amudzi stole my land and that his records, which were fraudulently entered on search records, have been expunged. The amendment of all the paragraphs in the plaintiff?s first application, and its subsequent introduction as evidence on 18/01 2006 means that judgement was obtained by fraud. Judge Kobena Acquaye?s judgement was in violation of Section 83 (1) (iv) of the Courts Act (1993)(amended in 2002/Act 620). I hope the Judge will see beyond the plaintiff?s perjured actions which brings the arbitrative integrity of the nation?s social justice to disrepute. To achieve expeditious justice, it is imperative that the nation?s court system adhere to the ethic of honesty and judicial transparency. Social justice is possible if the nation?s court system commits itself to the requisites of professionalism, independence and fairness under the rigours of enforceable modern procedures.

By failing to make the investigative outcome and recommendations public, the nation?s judicial system contributes to the murkiness in the nation?s court system and the campaign to eliminate the opaque culture of the court system. As an extended repercussion, the Ghanaian court system continues to commoditize justice and its attendant privileges to the social elite without due regard to the ?constitutional rights of the bottom-tiered citizenry?, a unfortunate chapter in the nation?s history which makes fundamental justice for the poor inaccessible, less meaningful and cultivates a feeling of disdain towards the structural functions of the court system.

The unethical demeanour of the plaintiff?s counsel, Mr. Jeffrey Quist, is phenomenal. For example, I have a signed document in my possession which he personally authored. It is a threatening letter to the Regional Lands Commission purporting that Mr. Roger Amudzi, a land fraudster, purchased my land from the Kwabena Aboagye, Mr. Carl Josiah Reindorf?s lawyer. The signatures of these named persons were falsified with the tacit knowledge of Jeffrey Quist, who was initially Roger Amudzi?s counsel. It therefore did not come as a surprise to me when Mr. Jeffrey Quist?s letter to the Lands Commission bore only his signature and not his full name, a concealment that bears the same hallmarks of fraud on Mr. Roger Amudzi?s and Richard Osam-Duodu?s forged documents (the letter will be provided if requested for investigation).

Jeffrey Quist?s letter to the Lands Commission needs further analysis given the seriousness of its content. I am also ready to support my assertion by giving copies of his letter to any institution or the media to make to make their own deduction. By sending such a letter to the Land Commission, Jeffrey Quist suborned and engaged in (i) fraudulent conduct and legal impropriety (i.e. willful misrepresentation of facts to help Roger Amudzi alter records at the Lands Commission (ii) perversion of facts for the purpose of helping a client with misleading claims and corroborating falsehood with the intention to acquire and secure property under false pretence and (c) suborning criminality by wilfully and deceptively omitting his name on the letter sent to Lands Commission to cover trace of authorship.

On 26/12/2005, Mr. Jeffrey Quist attended a party at Richard Osam-Duodu?s house which he recently built on my land. Knowing that the case was before the court, plaintiff?s counsel failed to advise him on the fact that he (counsel) told the court on 15/12/2005 that the plaintiff was not in the country. I have pictures to prove my assertion that the said party took place with Richard Osam-Duodu present. By their actions some members of the nation?s judicial/legal system have failed to meet the minimum requirements of probity and integrity. Their abuse of process without any reprimand from the upper echelons of the system compromises the quality of the nation?s court, a system that was once renowned as the linchpin of national security and identity. The massive injection of scarce state resources and taxpayers? money into the judiciary without treating citizens? complaints and concerns with the urgency they need contradicts the will to reform the decrepit justice system. Shortage of judges and court personnel and the difficulty to replace them if they are found liable/complicit in a criminal act or unethical behaviour should not be a justification to retain the corrupt and the unethical.

Mr. President, I understand the attendant difficulties that come with stifling unethical behaviour in the judiciary. However, we should not be oblivious to the fact that the structures of justice remain the cornerstone of the nation?s democracy. As a citizen, I have and will assert my rights under the provisions of the nation?s constitution to seek genuine justice. I respectfully call on the Chief Justice, Mr. George Kingsley Acquah to respond to the afflictions of her nation?s citizens. Expeditious justice and the rule of law cannot be a accessible to all citizens if judges, lawyers and court personnel are not sensitized to the gruelling experiential of ordinary citizens, as typified by my case. Justice only serves a greater good and the universal cause of humanity if all are treated equally and with the respect they deserve in the court of law. To allow courtroom intransigence in the face of overwhelming documentary and forensic evidence, which established me as the rightful owner of the property, compromises and debilitates the hard-earned credentials of our nation with respect for the rule of law. Genuine social justice must be based on objectivism and not subjectivism, exemplified by Judge Kobena Acquaye?s use of his ?laser? eyes to authenticate a forged document. I am determined to seek justice. Unlike many other citizens whose rights have been stifled by the courts, I do not and will not become part of the growing statistics of injustice. I look forward to your support and to hearing from you. It is also my humble request that you make public your recommendations in the aftermath of Mr. William Aborwu?s report.

Thank you.
Your faithful servant.
Nana Amma Obenewaa.

cc:

Mr. George Kingsley Acquah
Chief Justice Republic of Ghana

Ms. Monica Jerbi
Transparency International (USA) Washington

Ms. Nancy Zucker Boswell (TI/USA)

Ms. Barbara Ann Clay
Director of Communication

Ms. Sarah Tyler
Senior Press Officer

Mr. Lawrence Cockcroft (TI/UK)

Mr. Chandrashekhar Krishan



Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Obenewaa, Nana Amma