Ghana in the eyes of God 11
TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE
…As for me, if you bring money, I will collect” Declares Tepa Judge
Anas Aremeyaw Anas Reports: Tepa/ Ashanti Region
It was a dark day for Ghana’s criminal justice system, darker than Pharaoh’s infamous act of infanticide.
All known religious sects frown on the system of a judge taking bribe in exchange for justice.
BIBLE: Amos 5:12 “For I know how many are your offences and how great your sins. There are those who oppress the innocentand take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.”
QURAN: 4:135 “O you who believe constantly stand firm in justice, as witness for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents or relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah cares for both. So follow not (personal) inclination lest you deviate from justice”.
Invariably professing to be Christians or Muslims, our judges swore an oath or affirmed with either the Bible or the Quran to be just in the performance of their sacrosanct job. What is more, they lead witnesses and parties in cases to affirm or swear with the holy books to be truthful. One wonders therefore how the above admonitions from the revered scripts could be lost on a learned judge. Our jaws dropped in stupefied disbelief when Judge Kaakyire Atta Owusu told us point blank that as for him, he would take money if we bring it.
During our work in the Ashanti Region, the team made a trip to the Tepa District Magistrate court. A case that caught our attention was a criminal one which involved defrauding by false pretenses. We took an interest in the case because the facts involved a phenomenon that has been on the increase recently; persons taking money from people with the promise of getting them recruited or admitted into one public institution be it for work or schooling. In this case, the accused was said to have taken money from numerous persons upon the pretext of securing them admissions into the nursing training college.
We spoke with a brother of the accused who had been instructed by the judge to pay back the money involved. The accused had pleaded for time to repay the money as ordered but wanted bail in the meantime to enable him go about to look for the money and settle the matter. The judge had set the bail condition very high and the family could not meet the terms.
Even though the accused’s brother did not know us, he was happy to know that we were ready to help. They were not in any position to meet the bail terms. We promised to help his brother secure bail.
Our next step was to meet with a clerk of the court who was pointed out to us as the person to go to if one needed to meet with the judge- Mr. Antwi. Mr. Antwi was a rather matured and shrewd man. We soon discovered that he was ready to dip his fingers into the mud in so far as he could benefit financially in the short or long term. He quickly arranged a meeting with the judge and named the private price for the bail. The amount shocked us. He informed us that the judge was willing to take Ghs 1,000 for himself in order to review the terms and he the clerk also had to be paid separately by us for his ‘’effort and good work’’.
We had no choice but to agree and so we coughed up the money and as soon as we told the clerk we were ready, he arranged a meeting with the judge in his chambers. Read what transpired.
Judge: Where do you work?
Tiger 1: Please I sell secondhand clothes.
Judge: In Kumasi?
Tiger 1: Yes!
Judge: What about you?
Tiger 2: I’m a mason.
Judge: Mason, at where?
Tiger 2: Kumasi!
Judge: What brought you here?
Tiger: We are here to plead with you concerning our brother’s case, if you can do something to help us.
Judge: What kind of help do you want me to give you?
Judge: Talk, I’m listening.
Tiger: If you can grant him bail or something.
Judge: I have already granted him bail, I told you the other time that I had granted him bail.
Tiger: We can’t meet the conditions of the bail; if you can do something about it...,
Judge: Go and bring GHc 2,500.00. If you bring it, the conditions will come down. I don’t gain anything from seeing him in jail so if you bring the money, then I’ll bring down the conditions of bail. If you don’t bring any money, then we should forget about it.
He said if he is granted bail, he would run away, that’s what he said in court. He thinks he has given money to the police so he can go away. As for the police, if you give him money, he would take it but nothing will happen. So now what?
Tigers: We wanted…!
Judge: Go and bring any property’s document. I don’t gain anything from throwing him into jail, but his mother is also rude.
Tiger: That’s true!
Judge: I told him all this.
Tiger: I don’t know what his problem is, he’s quite aggressive.
Judge: Yes! The other day he said he had sent some people to go and collect some money for him, about GHc 2,000.00 for us to process the bail for him, not knowing he was lying; it wasn’t true.
Tiger: He says things that he can’t do.
Judge: Yes! When we sat down, we told the mother to go and bring something (money) for us to process the bail for him so that after he has been granted bail, we’ll see what to do next but she didn’t. You should go and bring money for us to put there as a deposit so that we can grant him bail.
Judge (Gets up to visit the loo)
Tiger: My Lord…..
Judge: Did you bring any money for me? As for me, if you bring money, I will collect it.
Tiger: Yes My Lord, We brought you some
Mr. Antwi: You shouldn’t worry, he’s going to do it but when you see your brother, you should advise him to be careful with the things he’s been saying in there, whatever he says comes out so he should be careful.
Mr. Antwi: He said he would run away. If he runs away, the person who came to bail him would be in trouble. So just as he said, you should try and get some money and bring it as a deposit but even if you don’t get some of the money, he’ll review the bail conditions so that you would be able to grant him a bail without you bringing any property documents.
Mr. Antwi: So I’ll talk to him when he comes!
The judge returned from the washroom and the conversation continued around the attitude of the accused person. When Tiger tried to hand him the money, he directed that it be given to Mr. Antwi who had been in the meeting all along with us. Tiger handed over the money to Mr. Antwi in the presence of the judge. The conversation went on for a while and Tiger, Mr. Antwi and the judge all left the judge’s chambers together.
Outside, a conversation ensued between Mr. Antwi and Tiger. Read on!
Mr. Antwi: He said he would be back so I should wait for him, therefore I’m waiting for him to come before I leave.
Tiger: Okay! I hope now that we have given him something, he’s going to do it?
Mr. Antwi: Oh yes, he’ll do it; if he won’t do it, he wouldn’t have taken the money. I’ll wait for him to come so that I talk to him before I leave. Now give me my share of the money.
Mr. Antwi collected his share and then later went to speak with the judge who was seated in his vehicle. They spoke for a while and the judge drove off.
A justified bail of GHc 2,500.00 was left unpaid, yet the trial judge deemed it proper to accept GHc 1,000.00 of personal gain from an accused’s relative to grant legal favors!
One wonders what oath Judge Kaakyire Atta Owusu had sworn to defend and protect the law of Ghana with at all times.
It would be recalled that in the…edition of The New Crusading Guide, Undercover – ‘Ghana In The Eyes of God’ broke the story that over 180 staff and judges of the judicial service had been unmasked for various acts of corruption they have been engaged in.
This particular investigation lasted over two years, and the team headed by our ace undercover reporter, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, combed through the length and breadth of Ghana. The painstaking nationwide operation covered the northern sector (Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions) the middle sector (Brong Ahafo, Ashanti, Eastern and Volta Regions) and the southern sector (Western, Central and Greater Accra Regions)
From judges' drivers, police escorts, ushers, interpreters, bailiffs, through CID officials, prosecutors, investigators to clerks and registrars, everybody was eager to take bribes unabashedly to facilitate dubious meetings with judges and magistrates.
We caught different categories of people on hidden camera taking varying sums of money and gifts from desperate clients.
Stay put for more shocking stories of corruption on the part of people who have long been seen as the epitome of fairness and truth: upholders of the national motto; 'Freedom and Justice.'
God Bless Our Homeland Ghana.
Source: Anas Aremeyaw Anas
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