Anas Judges Dodge Church Service
The 34 judges implicated in the recent Anas Aremeyaw Anas bribery scandal failed to show up at the special church service for the opening of the 58th Legal Year on Saturday.
DAILY GUIDE's checks at the Cathedral Church of the Most Holy Trinity on the High Street in Accra revealed that none of the judges was present at the public event ushering in the new legal year on the theme: 'Deepening Public Trust & Confidence in Justice Delivery', weeks after the exposÃ© by the investigative journalist allegedly captured the judges taking bribes.
Top brass of the Judiciary including the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood, Justice William Atuguba, Marrieta Brew Appiah-Oppong, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and the High Court judges for the first time were not in their usual robes.
The officiating clergy and lawyers who showed up for the event walked sombrely into the auditorium, which indicated that the judiciary was probably still smarting from the Anas 'sting.'
Anas through his Tiger PI allegedly captured the 34 superior and lower court judges collecting bribes to pervert the course of justice. Some of the judges are already in court fighting the case and public viewing of the video recording.
Last Friday Justice Paul Uuter Dery succeeded in stopping the public screening of the video in the Ashanti Region when he got a Kumasi High Court to place an injunction on the screening.
Some of the judges allegedly implicated in the video are Justices Kofi Essel Mensah, Charles Quist, John Ajet-Nassam and Ernest Obimpeh.
The others are Justices Mustapha Habib Logoh, Gilbert Ayisi-Addo popularly called Saddam, Frank Opoku, Ivy Heward-Mills and Kwame Ohene Essel.
However, two out of the 12 High court judges, Justices Yaw Ansu-Gyeabour and Mohammed Iddrisu were said to have already retired before Anas made the investigative report available.
Speaking to journalists on a wide range of issues including the absence of the judges at the event, Justice Alex B. Opoku-Acheampong, the Judicial Secretary, said the church service was open to all.
'Church service is open to all. In fact the Lord says that He came for 'sinners', so everybody can come here. This is a church service and everybody can attend.'
Justice Opoku-Acheampong added, '….As to whether they [34 judges] are specifically here, I have not had the chance to look around.'
Explaining further, the Judicial Secretary intimated that the judiciary did not use its robes in order 'to suit the times we are in', stressing that 'this a time for reflecting over the incident that had happened. It's a time of rededicating ourselves to the Lord and going before [Him] to ask for His strength to do the job He had assigned us.'
He stated that members of the judiciary everywhere are representatives of the Lord and as such, in the midst of the bribery scandal facing the judiciary, it was important to go before the Lord, wait on Him and renew their strength without pomp and pageantry.
While urging the general public to expect a strong judiciary, a judiciary that is rededicated and ready to do the work assigned it, Justice Opoku-Acheampong noted that the CJ's a committee set up to look into the matter would ensure that the case was dealt with according to due process.
Earlier in a sermon, the Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Kwaku Asante, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church and Chairman of the National Peace Council, tasked the judiciary to salvage its fast dwindling image.
He said, 'The time has come for you honourable judges to stand up and be counted to salvage your fast dwindling reputation as people who have the singular responsibility to deliver justice in the country.'
With particular reference to the bribery scandal, the chairperson of the National Peace Council stated that justice was not for sale.
You Can't Escape
'…Justice is not for sale, justice must not be for the highest bidder,' he emphasised, insisting that the bribery scandal called for sober reflection among judges to find out if they truly represented God.
He further contended: 'We can run away from corruption and immorality through the technicalities of the law, but you can't run away from the piercing eyes of the righteous judge.'
The Chief Justice, Georgina Wood, had earlier taken a swipe at some judges who she said had suddenly become businessmen, noting that the public had lost confidence in the judiciary.
She said most of them 'have become unbridled businessmen and women whose only desires are to maximise profit and amass wealth at the expense of professional and ethical behaviour.'
The CJ was addressing newly enrolled lawyers in Accra on Friday when she made these remarks.
According to her, the recent scandal that hit the judiciary had brought into focus the need for each member of the legal fraternity to take an introspective look of themselves.
She said the sober reflection would help them identify where they had fallen short, stagnated or even regressed and fashion out the appropriate remedial measures that would diminish, if not totally extinguish, the possibility of a future recurrence.
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson