The Chief Justice of Ghana, Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah has denied allegations that he demanded a bribe of Five Million United States Dollars ($5 million) from one Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta IV, a party to case before the Supreme court, for a favorable judgement.
A letter to the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service signed by the Judicial Secretary, Justice Cynthia Pamela Addo, said the Chief Justice is “saddened” that his name has been dragged “into this sordid and potentially criminal matter”.
According to Chief Justice he does not know the person in question and has neither demanded nor received any money.
“His Lordship confirms that he does not know the plaintiff and has not met or seen him anywhere, except in the court room when he rises to announce his name when his case is called. His Lordship asserts that he has had no personal interaction either with the plaintiff or his lawyer on this matter or in any other matter. His Lordship further asserts that he has not demanded or received any money from any person to influence any decision in this matter or any other matter.”
He thus wants the CID to investigate the matter.
“To ensure that this matter is fully investigated, His Lordship has directed that a formal complaint be made to the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service for investigations and any necessary action. He has further directed that a Petition be lodged with the Disciplinary Committee of the General Legal Council in respect of this specific matter.”
$5 Million Bribery Allegation
The $5 million bribery allegation came up against the Chief Justice in the response of Lawyer Akwasi Afrifa to a petition brought against him at the General Legal Council by his client, Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta IV, seeking a refund of some money. According to the client, Mr. Afrifa after taking his legal fees of GHȻ300,000 demanded an extra US$100,000 to enable him do “some ways and means (gymnastics)” on his case for him to get a favourable judgement. The client said he acceded to the demand and parted with the said amount out of nativity but that he later realized the money was not used for its intended purpose. He said he fired Mr Afrifa as his lawyer in the case and demanded a refund of the money, but only succeeded in getting US$ 25,000 remaining a balance of US$75,000 which he wants the General Legal Council to help him retrieve.
In response to the petition however, Mr. Afrifa denied the allegations and proceeded to give his account of what transpired. According to him, he agreed with the client on GHS 1 million as legal fees, of which he paid GHȻ300,000 and “undertook to settle the remainder later”. In the narrative of Mr. Afrifa, he claimed that his client (Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta IV) had told him “friends of his who were highly connected politically had taken him to see the Chief Justice who agreed to help him win his case..”.
“He further informed me that the Chief Justice demanded a bribe of US$5,000,000 for a successful outcome of his case and that he had already paid US$500,000 to the Chief Justice”, Mr. Afrifa claimed in his response to the General Legal Council which has set July 15 for the hearing of the case.
Both the Chief Justice and Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta IV have denied the allegations. In a rejoinder issued on July 11, Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta IV said “I unequivocally deny all allegations of intended bribery or actual bribery of any judge including the Chief Justice whom I have never met or known personally apart from seeing him a distance from the bench”.
The Chief Justice has also said he does not know Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta IV and has neither demanded or received any money from him.
Meanwhile, think-tank Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) has petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate Chief Justice.
“ASEPA treats these allegations very seriously and contends that the conduct of the Chief Justice if found to be true is in serious violation of Chapter 24 (Code of Conduct for Public Officers) and several other provisions of our laws,” the petition said.