24.03.2006 General News

CJ in ¢1.5bn bribery scandal

24.03.2006 LISTEN
By The Enquirer

President Kufuor has been presented with another petition calling for the removal of the Chief Justice, Justice George Kingsley Acquah.

The petitioners are calling for an investigation into allegations of a £100,000 (¢1.5billion at current exchange rate) bribery, victimization inference, misuse of public office and gross misconduct, which has brought disrepute and embarrassment to the office of the Judiciary in respect of the Poku Transport case.

According to the Enquirer newspaper, Castle sources have hinted that five children of the late Mr F.K,Poku of Poku Transport fame who are plaintiffs in the case entitled 'Kojo Nsafoa Poku and Others Vrs Dr Kwame Appiah Poku and Others' are those seeking the removal of the CJ.

The five are N.K.Poku, Yaw Aboagye Poku, Helina Poku, K. Darkwa Poku and A. Adu Poku, who have raised a case of forgery in the said case against a will purported to be made by their father as to how his properties should be shared amongst his children.

Prior to the petition, which was also copied to the Council of State, the five earlier raised an objection to the conduct of the CJ in an open letter to the President, accusing the CJ of meting out injustice to them in respect of the case but received no response from the presidency.

The children of the late transport owner have been divided over the sharing of the properties of their late father.

Some of them believe that a supposed will, which was to be the basis for the distribution of the properties had been forged.

A high court judge, Mrs Justice Agnes Dzordie who presided over the case in Kumasi, upheld and gave judgement that the late Poku's properties be shared amongst the wives and children according to the Interstate Succession Law, PNDC Law 111 rather than the purported Will.

The PNDC Law assigns percentages to the children, wives and family members of a deceased person in the absence of a written will from him as to how his or her properties should be shared.

But Dr Kwame Appiah Poku, one of the beneficiaries of the said will and the other beneficiaries are said to be unhappy with the judgement of Mrs Dordzie and have, therefore succeeded in getting the CJ to transfer the case from a Kumasi High Court to an Accra High Court.

According to the petition, after the case was transferred to Accra, the CJ asked Justice Adinyira, Justice Dotse and Justice S. Marful-Sau all said to be friends of the CJ to sit on the case in Accra.

The petition further stated that the judges were secretly admitting fresh evidence from the aggrieved party at a commercial court instead of the Court of Appeal.

Mrs Justice Adinyira is said to be a close pal of Ms Justice Rose Owusu, an Appeal Court Judge with whom she (Mrs Adinyira) worked with at the Attorney General's department in Koforidua, in the Eastern region.

According to the petition, Ms Owusu has a daughter with the late F.K Poku who is a beneficiary of the Will under dispute.

Their petition which was served on the Attorney General and minister of Justice, Ayikoi Otto and the President at the Castle last Friday is substantially different from the earlier one filed by an Accra based legal practitioner, Bright Akwetey for conflict of interest, judicial misconduct and abuse of office against the CJ.

Kojo Nsafoa Poku and the four other children of the late F.K Poku have alleged that two sisters of theirs have bribed the CJ with a sum of £100,000 to assist them overturn the judgement given by Mrs Justice Dzordie to their advantage.

According to the Enquirer newspaper, the petitioners did not give any concrete proof of the bribery, expect that the £100,000 bribe allegedly paid to the CJ must have been raised out of their late father's foreign account and properties in the United Kingdom (UK) which were illegally mortgaged by those in favour of the forged Will despite the court's ruling on the matter.

The petitioners said when they were initially alerted about the alleged bribery, they treated the issue with a pinch of salt, but the CJ's open condemnation of Mrs Dzordie and Justice Kpentey in public, over decisions they separately took on the matter, though the CJ was not allegedly abreast with facts of the case made them believe the bribery allegation.

The Chief Justice, after openly humiliating the two High Court judges in front of a large number of judges and magistrates in Kumasi, unconstitutionally ordered the case to be transferred to Accra, said the petition.

According to the Enquirer newspaper, the CJ is also reported to have told the large gathering that even though Justice Kpentey's name came up for nomination to the Court of Appeal, he dropped him because of the ruling he gave in the matter involving Poku Transport.

Apart from the two High Court judges, all court officials who had come into contact with the Poku Transport case, according to the petition have suffered intimidation, frustration and undue transfers as punishment.

The petition said the CJ frustrated Mrs Justice Dzordie till she left her family behind for the Gambia. Justice Kpentey was also transferred to Hohoe in the Volta region.

An assistant senior administrator, C.K Kumah was also allegedly transferred from Kumasi to Wa, having been appointed by the court as an interim administrator of the estate under dispute, regrettably went into voluntary retirement after facing frustrations in the Upper West region.

The petition said a court appeal registerar in Accra, Edward Adzie was also demoted and transferred to Cape Coast, to serve as a librarian for criticizing the manner in which the Court of Appeal was handling the case.

Last Tuesday when the case was called at the Court of Appeal for hearing, counsel for the plaintiffs, Mr Kwame Boafo Akuffo of Akuffo-Addo Prempeh and Co objected to the Court of Appeal judges sitting on the case since there was a likelihood of them being biased against their clients.

But counsel for the defendants Sammy Addo disagreed with plaintiff's objection since it was not legally supported because the Court does not run on people's emotions and therefore the plaintiff's objection must be thrown out.

However Mrs Justice Adinyira and her two other colleagues upheld the objection and agreed to vacate the bench to enable a new panel to be constituted to hear the case.

She said she is unhappy about handling the case since she had already sat on it, stressing that there are enough Court of Appeal judges to handle the case.

Mrs Adinyira adjourned the case to a later date for a new panel to be constituted.

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