Ajet-Nassam, Obimpeh Sacked



Two High Court judges, Justice John Ajet-Nassam and Justice Ernest Obimpeh, have been dismissed from the judiciary, following their involvement in the bribery scandal that rocked the country’s third arm of government late last year.

This was contained in a statement signed and issued by the Judicial Secretary, Justice Alex Poku-Acheampong, as directed by President John Dramani Mahama, drawing on the recommendation of the five-member committee set up by the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Woode, to investigate their conduct. The committee was headed by a Justice of the Supreme Court.

The dismissed judges were among 34 Judges—12 High Court Judges and 22 Circuit Court Judges and Magistrates—captured by the ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, in audio-video recordings allegedly collecting bribes from litigants to pervert the course of justice.

Also indicted in the bribery scandal were Justice Paul Uuter Dery, Justice Gilbert Ayisi Addo, Justice Frank Opoku, Justice Charles Quist, Justice Kofi Essel Mensah, Justice Mustapha Logoh, Justice Kwame Ohene Essel and Justice Ivy Heward-Mills, all High Court judges.

Anas and his Tiger Eye PI investigative team, having gathered enough evidence to bring the moral conduct of the judges to question, petitioned the Chief Justice and the President of the Republic, demanding the initiation of impeachment proceedings against them, in accordance with article 146 of the Constitution.

The audio-visual recording of the affected judges was screened in September last year at the Accra International Conference Centre. It was a sight to behold that day, as hundreds of people, including diplomats, ministers of state, the clergy, lawyers and Members of Parliament thronged the place to catch a glimpse of the woes which had befallen the very people charged with the responsibility to serve people of Ghana justice.

Following Anas’ exposé, the Chief Justice suspended the judges as their conducts were being investigated. Since then, suits from some of the affected judges, especially Justice Paul Uuter Dery, challenging their suspensions, have occupied the judicial space. These suits were, however, not successful.

After thorough investigations by a committee set up by the Chief Justice, some of the affected judges and magistrates of the lower courts were dismissed for violating provisions of the 1992 Constitution.

While some of them were sacked without benefits, others were to go home with benefits. His Honour Seyram Tsatsu Azumah, His Worship Paul K. Alhassan, His Worship Albert Zoogah and His Worship Courage Ofori Afriyie received their benefits after the committee found them guilty of compromising justice.

The committee did not recommend benefits for His Honour Benjamin Y. Osei, Her Honour Florence Otoo Ninepence, His Honour Isaac B. Akwantey, His Honour Alex Obeng Asante, His Honour Emmanuel K. Sunu, His Honour Baptist Kwadwo Filson and His Honour Emmanuel Opare.

The rest included His Worship Samuel Ahiabor, His Worship William Baffoe, His Worship Michael Boamah Gyamfi, His Worship Jacob Amponsah, His Worship Frank Kingley Oppong, His Worship Samuel Esselwalker and His Worship Alfred K. A. Mensah.

News of the dismissal of Justices John Ajet-Nassam and Ernest Obimpeh appear to be the first tranche of the determination of the fate of the judges of the superior courts of the land implicated in the alleged bribery scandal.

According to the statement, the dismissal of the two judges “follows President Mahama’s acceptance of the recommendations of a five-member committee that investigated their conduct, in accordance with article 146 of the 1992 Constitution.”

Two other High Court judges, Justice Paul Uuter Dery and Justice Gilbert Ayisi Addo, who are still under investigation in lieu of their cases pending before the courts, a few days ago sued the Judicial Council and the Chief Justice and four other institutions for serving them notice to slash their salaries by half, and also suspend the payment of all their allowances, except rent.

In a related development, Justice Poku-Acheampong has indicated that President John Dramani Mahama had directed the removal of a High Court Judge, His Lordship Justice Ringo Cass Akurugu Azumah, from office on grounds of stated misbehaviour and incompetence.

“The President acted upon the recommendations of a five-member committee that investigated a petition against the Judge, in accordance with Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution. The Committee was chaired by a Justice of the Supreme Court,” the statement pointed out.

It explained that several complaints of absenteeism were filed against him by users of the court and a leading law firm. “On receiving the complaints, Justice R.C Azumah was asked to appear before a Disciplinary Committee of the Judicial Council for Superior Court Judges.

The Committee found his conduct to be in breach of his Judicial Oath and office, in continuously failing to sit without permission or stated reason. The Committee further found that the Judge’s general conduct amounted to gross dereliction of duty, stated misbehaviour and incompetence,” it added.

The Judicial Council, based on the report of the Disciplinary Committee, decided that Justice Azumah be impeached, with a petition forwarded to President Mahama. “H.E the President, in line with Article146 (3), requested the Chief Justice to set up a Committee to investigate the matter, pursuant to article 146 (4) of the Constitution.

“The Committee’s recommendations have been accepted by the President in accordance with article 146 (9) of the Constitution, thus his removal from office as a Justice of the High Court,” the statement further revealed.

By Pascal Kafu Abotsi
([email protected])

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