The measures are going to be difficult but there has to be a variety of them… including …. The “Anas' Principle”. Setting up highly motivated professional groups of young people who will work … undercover to unearth examples of corruption… - President Akufo Addo:2012.
That Corruption in African countries is hindering economic, political and social development is a truism. Ghana ranked 72nd on the 2022 Global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) on a score of 43 over 100 – a repetition of Ghana's marks for 2020 and 2021.
We lauded Akufo-Addo when he “promised” to uproot corruption, using the Anas' principle, whatever he meant. NPP accused NDC: Airbus Smarty's Bus branding saga; GYEEDA SADA, “gift” of ford car; Woyome (Justice Dotse called it a syndicate to “create, loot and share”).
The President appointed Martin ABK Amidu as the Special Prosecutor, but the one-man anti-corruption crusader complained about so many things and quit the scene, just as he came. And, Mahama laments: “Most appallingly, the President has become the clearing house for clearing his appointees accused of corruption”. Comes in Anas – and as if mesmerized, the whole nation was stupefied and Anas paraded the whole nation like a colossus furtively entering institutions and cunningly to “entrap” personalities and get them hurled into prison, or they getting high blood pressure and dying, destroying families…. A man goes to a judge's house in Tamale to pray for a bail for a relative (knowing his intentions, the man goes with yams and a goat – a normal gift in that part of the country) and after a brief discussion with the judge promising to help “the judge is secretly filmed and a charge of corruption is placed on the judge's head and Justice Ansu Gyeabour nearly lost his retirement benefits after 30-plus years of service as a judge but for the sensible reasoning of the Supreme Court which ruled when he petitioned: “It would be unconstitutional for the 1st Defendant to establish a new impeachment committee to impeach plaintiff four (4) years after his constitutional retirement.” And people queued to go and watch “Ghana in the eyes of God: Epic of Injustice” – 12 high court judges and 22 lower court judges were implicated. Anas got international recognition: BBC, Al Jazeera… Awards upon awards!
C.J. Georgina Wood remained “helpless” and “hapless”. Anas, always hooded, with two decoys… as Justice Francis K. Opoku, John Ajet Nasam, Ernest Obimpeh, Kwame Ohene Essel, Ivy Heward-Mills, Gilbert Ayisi Addo, Kofi Essel Mensah, Charles Quist, Mustapha Logoh, Peter Dery, Albert Zoogah and Anas himself escaped contempt charges by the skin of his teeth when he erroneously but diabolically implicated Justice Daniel Obeng in a “Justice- for-sale” allegation.
Per Rule 9 of the Court of Appeal Rules 1997 (CI 19) a citizen has twenty-one (21) days to appeal (civil) against an interlocutory decision, or three (3) months in the case of an appeal against a final decision. Thus, Anas has a few more days to appeal the decision of the High Court in the case Anas Aremeyaw Anas (Plaintiff) v Kennedy Agyapong (Defendant) Civil Suit No. GT/892/2018 delivered on Wednesday, 15th March, 2023 by His Lordship Eric Baah, Justice of Appeal, sitting as an additional High Court Judge.
In the introduction to the decision, the judge had remarked: “This, no doubt, is a judgment on a mammoth case… by reason of the personalities involved … the nature of the issues… the expected wide reach of the accusations of the Defendant…”
Defendant (Kennedy) had on several statements and comments on different dates and on varied media uttered words that amounted to “defamation.” In all, thirty (30) charges were raised. The Plaintiff is a self-confessed thief; a murderer (killed Joseph Boakye Danquah Adu, (MP); an abettor of the murder of several Chinese nationals; an evil and dishonest person suffering from mental derangement; cheated his way through Law School; promotes illegal mining; a fraudster; an extortionist; a blackmailer; corrupts public officials; engages in tax evasion; engages in custom duty evasion; takes bribes to influence the outcome of his investigative journalistic work; impersonates as a lawyer; engages in criminal assault; engages in threats of death; engages in threats of harm; a land guard, engages in illegal land grabbing; interferes with the administration of justice; an odious and contemptible; a cheat; terrorizes people; engages in fraudulent acts and extortion with his lawyer; an email and messages hacker.
The Defendant (Kennedy) insisted that his comments were true, factual and fair, and, therefore, justified. Seven (7) issues, plus two additional issues were set down for determination. Both parties wrote their written addresses.
In his 60-plus page judgment, the judge stated that the Courts Act, 1993 (Act 459) recognizes two legal regimes for the protection of the reputation of people: customary law and common law, one of which ought to be relied on for the trial of a case of defamation. Cases: Faibi v State Hotels Corporation (1968) GLR 471; Birimpong v Bawuah (1997-95) GBR 837; West African Enterprise Ltd v Western Hardwood Enterprise Ltd (1995-96) 1 GLR, CA – in which it was held that “…” no principle of law required a party to prove an admitted fact!
The Defendant's defences were: Absolute Privilege, Qualified Privilege, Fair Comment, Justification and Consent.
The judge found that: “…as officers caught by plaintiff in his investigation have lost their jobs, an entrapped President may be compelled to resign out of shame or public pressure. That means, the Plaintiff through his investigative antics can cause the removal of a President… That is not investigative journalism, it is investigative terrorism”.
The Judge ruled thus: “The statement of the Defendant founded on Exhibits KOA 1, KOA 2, KOA 3, and KOA 4 were truthful and factual, thereby sustaining defence of justification and fair comment. The statements in Plaintiff's Exhibit C, though capable of defamatory meanings were not proven to have actually defamed the Plaintiff. I found the claims of Plaintiff merit-less. It is hereby dismissed. “If Anas had won, he would have gone home with Gh¢25 million richer. That is “big money”. Is it 250 billion old cedis? Sorry, we may not be very good at Mathematics. Only Grade 4 at O level, but A at General Paper. Not wanting trouble “Professor Atta Mills would have called the amount “ope-pe-pee-pee”.
After the judgment, Kennedy Agyapong was found “chilling” with Kwasi Nyantakyi. C.S. Lewis says: “You can't go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending”. Opoku-Agyemang Esq., Lecturer in the Law of Tort, encourages his students to get copies of the judgment, for “apo wo mu”.
As for Anas, he has to protect his integrity and so he gets his Tiger Eye PI to write. In a bizarre twist (the judge) concluded that the so-called documentary: 'Who Watches the Watchman', “was an absolute justification, thereby absolving Mr. Agyapong of any liability. We find the decision of the court an unfortunate travesty of justice and we note that Mr. Agyapong attended the court in the company of Mr. Kwasi Nyantakyi who has been banned for fifteen (15) years from all football related activities. (So, was football being played in the court room? Or is it Tiger Eye that selects court room attendees?)
We grant Manasseh-Azure his opinion about the judgment, but we doubt if the judgment is a “dent on the judiciary” and doubt also whether the label “judicial terrorism” sits well.