Two more High court judges cited in the judicial corruption scandal have been removed from office effective April 19, 2016. The two are Justice Kofi Essel Mensah and Justice Francis K. Opoku.
According to a statement signed by the Judicial Secretary, Justice Alex B. Poku Acheampong, the action was taken following recommendations by the committee formed to investigate allegations of “stated misbehavior” leveled against them.
“His Excellency the President, John Dramani Mahama, in a letter dated April 12, 2016 accepted the recommendation for their removal from office by the Committee set up by the Hon. Lady Chief Justice to investigate the petition from Anas Aremeyaw Anas of Tigereyepi for their removal on grounds of stated misbehaviour,”the statement added.
Some 22 lower court judges and 12 High Court judges were captured on video in a two-year investigative piece by investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, allegedly taking bribes to influence justice. So far, 20 of the lower court judges have been removed from office.
The statement further explained that in the case of Justice Francis K. Opoku, a second petition for his removal from office was submitted to the President by the Judicial Council on October 29, 2015 on grounds of stated misbehaviour and incompetence following complaints about his failure to sit regularly as a Justice of the High Court at the High Court, Bolgatanga.
The Committee after investigating the matter made the following observations: Engaged in ex-parte discussion with agents of Anas in respect of the case “Webajuwa Bazilyern vs. Kaponga Kunipwah contrary to Rule 3(7) of the Code of Conduct for Judges and Magistrates of Ghana. Received money from the petitioner and his team with a promise to satisfy the wishes of a party in a case that was pending before him.
In line with the above however, the committee concluded that Justice Opoku’s conduct constituted “stated misbehaviour contrary to Article 146 (1) of the 1992 constitution and Rule 3(7) of the code of conduct for judges and magistrates in Ghana.” “In respect of the second petition against him, the committee found that Justice Opoku’s dereliction in the performance of his duties and continued absence from duty at the High Court, Bolgatanga had eroded public confidence in the Judiciary in the region and portrayed him as incompetent.
It concluded that his conduct constituted stated misbehaviour and incompetence contrary to Article 146 (1) of the 1992 constitution.”
Justice Kofi Essel Mensah In Justice Kofi Essel Mensah’s case, the Committee found that he had held ill-intentioned discussion with one Gabriel Achana, a court staff, about a bail application in the case of “The Republic vs. Mohammed Nii Baa” with the prospects of receiving valuable consideration.
It further found that the judge secretly discussed the application for bail with the petitioner after which the petitioner gave an amount of GHC 5,000 to him through Gabriel Achana. “The committee concluded that the judge’s conduct amounted to impropriety which had undermined public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary contrary to Rule 2(A) of the code of conduct for judges and magistrates.”
Following their removal from office, both judges ahve been asked to vacate their bungalows and all official properties in their possession including their official government vehicles, Dockets and Record books returned to the Judicial Secretary. “The Director of Human Resource has also been requested to ensure that their names are deleted from the payroll of the Judicial Service with effect from April 19, 2016,” the statement added.
Some 21 lower court judges and 19 judicial service staff, have been fired for their roles in the scandal.