Chief Justice (CJ), Kwasi Anin-Yeboah
It is turning out that a confidential report on the petition seeking the removal of the Chief Justice (CJ), Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, from office, filed by a pro-NDC group calling itself the Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), appears to have been leaked by the petitioner.
The Jubilee House (presidency) has said immediately the President’s aide handed over the report to Mensah Thompson, the leader of ASEPA, the whole thing leaked on social and some mainstream media platforms.
“You pick a letter from the Office of the President and within 45 minutes, you share a copy of it on social media and with media houses. What is really your motivation? Which part of the proceedings is to be held “in camera” does ASEPA not understand? Legal Counsel of the President, Kow Essuman fumed yesterday.
This is not the first time such a confidential correspondence between the petitioner and the presidency has been leaked concerning the same supposed $5 million bribe matter for which the group is calling for the head of the Chief Justice.
In the earlier letter responding to the petition in July, the President’s Executive Secretary, Nana Bediatuo Asante, had expressed reservation about the conduct of the petitioner.
“Within minutes of picking up our letter dated 26th July, 2021 with reference number OPS307/21/843 from the Office of the President, you caused it to be circulated on social media. We consider such behaviour highly irresponsible and ill-advised.”
That, the President’s Secretary said, was because, “per Article 146 (8) of the Constitution, all proceedings under Article 146 shall be held in camera,” a provision according to him, the Supreme Court has interpreted to include the petition and all incidental papers.
The statement therefore, asked Mensah Thompson and his ASEPA group not only to be mindful that the processes are confidential, but to be guided accordingly so as not to be in contempt of the Supreme Court.
The allegation involved a private legal practitioner, Kwasi Afrifa of O & A Legal Consult and his client Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI.
According to the chief, the lawyer allegedly had demanded $100,000 to do ‘ways and means’ for his case to receive favourable judgment in court, but upon realising that the lawyer was defrauding him, reported him to the General Legal Council for disciplinary action.
The lawyer in turn claimed that his client (chief) once told him that Justice Anin Yeboah demanded a bribe of US$5 million from him (Ogyeedom) to ensure a successful outcome of his case.
The chief later said the lawyer, who he said he fired from the case, has refunded about $40,000 to him and also claimed that he fired him because he realised the lawyer apart from messing up his case, also harboured some hatred for the Chief Justice.
In the ensuing heat, Mensah Thompson entered the fray and said he was petitioning the presidency and even called for the immediate removal of the Chief Justice before the issues were even looked into.
He also petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the Chief Justice but the commission rejected the petition saying the issue was already being looked at by the presidency.
The President’s Secretary, in a correspondence to Mensah Thompson, with reference OPS307/21/934, conveyed the determination of President Akufo-Addo in consultation with the Council of State, on whether or not the petition invoking Article 146 (6) of the Constitution for the removal of the Chief Justice discloses a prima facie case.
The President per the leaked report dismissed the petition describing it as “unmeritorious” and “unwarranted.”
The report said it was observed that the petition was not anchored on any allegation made directly or emanating from the petitioner itself, and that the petitioner only relied on allegations made by a certain lawyer, Kwasi Afrifa, in his response to a complaint of misconduct made against him pending at the General Legal Council (GLC).
Third Hand/Fourth Hand
“The petitioner, thus, reproduces third hand or fourth hand hearsay as the basis for seeking to trigger the serious process for the removal of a Chief Justice of the Republic from office. It is correct to say that the petitioner does not possess personal knowledge of any of the matters that the petitioner advances as the foundation for the petition,” the report said.
According to the report, the petitioner relied solely on hearsays picked up from the “rumour mill” being the response by Mr. Afrifa in Exhibit A to the GLC as the basis for invoking Article 146 of the Constitution.
“Not only does Exhibit A woefully miss the mark as the requisite standard of evidence required to establish a prima facie case against the Chief Justice, it also does not base the allegations stated therein on any evidence. Mr. Afrifa, in Exhibit A, makes several bare allegations without a shred of evidence.
“In fact, all the allegations he makes in Exhibit A are founded on information he claims to have obtained from his client, Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI,” the correspondence from the President indicated.
It added that Mr. Afrifa, in Exhibit A, made several bare allegations without a shred of evidence, noting “in fact, all the allegations he makes in Exhibit A are founded on information he claims to have obtained from his client, Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI.”
“Even a cursory review of Exhibit A would reveal that the allegations are all unsubstantiated – Mr. Afrifa consistently repeats that he was informed by his client before each of the impugned statements he makes against the Chief Justice. The said Mr. Afrifa, on the basis of whose allegations ASEPA files the instant petition, himself does not directly allege bribery against the Chief Justice,” the report said.
“He merely alleges before the General Legal Council what he claimed he heard from his client. It goes without saying that the petition is not founded on any fact at all known to the petitioner or to anybody that the petitioner knows,” it added.
The report said the petitioner was clearly unable to verify any of the allegations made by the lawyer, pointing out that “it is curious, at best, that the petitioner is inviting me to commence proceedings to remove the Chief Justice, based on information that the petitioner does not have knowledge of (sic),” adding the allegation “is conjectural, speculative and provides nothing of substance to assist in proceedings under Article 146 of the Constitution.”
He said “the petitioner failed to meet the threshold of proffering sufficiently strong evidence in support of his spurious allegations for the opposing side to be called to answer to it,” adding “very little emanates from the personal knowledge of the petitioner, nor is there an express showing that the events being recounted by him as the basis for the removal process were disclosed or narrated to him by the victims of aggrieved judges in the context of lawyer-client relationship.”
“The narration of the events sounds very much like the sort of things that anyone could pick up from the rumour mill,” the report said.
Council of State
He revealed that the Council of State in its letter, dated August 20, 2021, conveying its conclusions on the consultation with him on the petition, concluded firmly that the petition initiated by ASEPA for the removal of the Chief Justice on the grounds of stated misbehaviour was “frivolous and vexatious.”
“The Council found that the petition does not meet the prima facie standard envisaged under Article 146 (6) of the Constitution and thus ought to be dismissed,” he stated further.
On the strength of the foregoing, the President said he found that no prima facie case was disclosed by the instant petition for the removal of the Chief Justice, and that the petition was devoid of any basis warranting the setting up of a committee under Article 146 (6) to undertake the very serious business of removing a Chief Justice from office.
“To entertain further proceedings on the basis of third hand and fourth hand hearsay, as the petition is replete with, will violate legally acceptable standards of fairness and weaken the efficacy of the top echelon of the Judiciary,” he indicated.
Mensah Thompson after the ‘leakage’ rather turned around to accuse the President of not respecting the laws of the country.
“President Akufo-Addo has shown that he has absolutely no respect for the laws considering what has been done and the effect of such backlash,” he said on Joy FM whose platform was one of the first places the leaked letter was published.
Mensah Thompson said the opinion of the President is not to be considered in the case, insisting that “the President is only a conveyor in this matter.”
He also said that “the Council of State did their report, we don’t know the contents of the report of the Council of State. The President said he was going to apprise himself or he was going to apprise the Council of State with his findings on an investigation he went to do to ensure that they are on the same page. So if this report that they are reading is actually the report of the Council of State or the report of our President’s own investigation, we don’t know.”
By Ernest Kofi Adu