Ghana’s Judicial Council has suspended 22 magistrates and circuit court judges after more than 30 of them were seen in video footage allegedly receiving money from litigants to influence judgements.
The Council’s decision follows a two-year investigation by Ghanaian journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, which captured 34 superior and lower court judges, and over 100 court officials in a 500-minute video, demanding and receiving bribes in order to sway verdicts.
it is unfortunate that justice is now for sale in this country
Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Woode has begun investigations to establish whether there is a prima facie case against each of the 12 high court judges implicated in the video, which has created public uproar.
“The Judicial Council has also instituted the necessary investigative processes to identify, for further disciplinary actions, other court officials, who may have collaborated in these alleged acts of grave misconduct,” the council’s secretary, Justice Alex B. Poku-Acheampong, said in a statement.
One judge suffered a stroke and another collapsed after their names were mentioned on radio while some quietly tendered their resignation letters and official vehicles to the chief justice, but these were rejected, local media reported on Thursday.
A number of Ghanaians are outraged at the case and insist the full video be aired following reports that pressure was mounting on the investigative journalist to shelve the footage scheduled to be shown on September 22 at the Accra international conference centre.
“The authority needs to act swiftly to preserve our justice system, when we’ve a problem with the executive or the legislators we run to the judiciary and now look at what they are doing,” a teacher, Patrick Tuffour told The Africa Report on Thursday.
“This thing has gone on for a very long time, it is unfortunate that justice is now for sale in this country, when you file a case for example and you’re to pay let’s say 100 cedis, they’ll [court officials] end up giving you a five-cedi receipt,” he said.
“This corruption thing will continue, how will the judges build their houses, with this exposé, they will now modify their tactics using the local people, we should only hope that action will be taken, if not this is not the best,” an official of the Ghana education service, Francis Kanwilley said.
But the Judicial Council has assured the public it would not spare any of the judges and the court officials cited in the alleged corruption exposé.
“The Judicial Council would like to assure the general public that the outcome of these processes would be made fully public and no one will be spared appropriate sanctions, where culpability is established,” the statement said on Wednesday.
Four lawyers were in August 2011 summoned before the country’s general legal counsel by the Association of Judges and Magistrates for making allegations of endemic bribery and corruption against the judiciary.
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