To Mr. Justice Atuguba: Attacks On The Judiciary
Date published: January 21, 2013
By I. K. Gyasi
The DAILY GUIDE issue of Friday, January 11, 2013, reports you as making a statement the previous day as follows:
“He (Mr. Justice Atuguba) said, “I am concerned that there should be at all times a very strong and truly independent judiciary.
“The health of the country must be preserved; if we don’t have strong judiciary, we will be gambling with the destiny of this country.”
The DAILY GUIDE report has you saying that if that happened, you would not be part of it, and added, “I don’t think my colleagues would also be part of it.
“Ghana is a very solid country, but it is breaking down because principles are being chopped down almost to pedestrian level.
“The Court must be strong and truly independent. The health of the country depends on us.”
The DAILY GUIDE also reports you as saying: “The courts are there for the public, and the judges are supposed to be public servants, and with the exception that a matter is gravely confidential, it has to be heard in public.”
Your Lordship, on the supposition that you were correctly reported by the DAILY GUIDE, I am with you all the way in the matter of the need for a strong and truly independent judiciary at all times.
Of course, the judiciary is made up of human beings who have all the strengths and weaknesses of other human beings. Judges can be criticised in their judicial judgments, as well as in their social and moral behaviour.
However, one of the ways in which the judiciary can be brought into disrepute, hatred, ridicule and contempt is the launching of unproved allegations against members of that august body.
I notice that when it comes to baselessly maligning the judiciary, Dr. Raymond Atuguba, your own nephew (some say he is your cousin) takes the top prize.
On a platform provided by the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), then under the chairmanship of the late Mr. Larry Bimi (May his soul rest in peace), your nephew sought to prove how corrupt the judiciary is by citing two examples as reported in the media.
Dr. Atuguba, himself a lawyer, alleged that when he lived in your house, there were occasions when some would-be bribe givers came to your house with the intention of offering bribe.
According to Dr. Atuguba, he knew that the bribe was not for you, so he would direct them to the house of a judge “living nearby”.
Dr. Atuguba was not reported as proving that he actually witnessed the judge “living near-by” taking the bribes. In other words, in a court of law, all that Dr. Atuguba would have said was that he had not actually seen the judge in question taking the bribe.
Dr. Atuguba gave another example. This time, he said that a case he was handling in court for his clients was proceeding at a snail’s pace.
According to Dr. Atuguba, his clients then approached him with the suggestion that they should bribe the judge, a suggestion he objected to. Still, according to Dr. Atuguba, he discovered that the case picked up speed not long after the suggestion by his clients.
Dr. Atuguba was clearly insinuating that the case had picked up speed because the judge in question had taken a bribe. The interesting thing is that though Dr. Atuguba did not specifically name the judges, a little detective work could easily have exposed the identity of the two judges.
Your nephew is also reported to be on record as saying that the convictions of two persons were “politically procured.” Your Lordship, your precious nephew, irresponsibly, recklessly, unethically, reprehensibly and diabolically undermined the judiciary of which you are an important part by smearing it with the faeces of unproved allegations and insinuations.
Your Lordship, I will give you one or two more examples of how the judiciary, as a body, and individual members, has been unfairly attacked and their reputations shredded like paper.
Mr. Richard Quashigah, the Propaganda Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), is on record as saying this of the Chief Justice, Mrs. Justice Theodora Wood: “The Chief Justice is a dangerous and shameless woman who must resign to save whatever is left of her tattered dignity.”
Dr. Kwabena Adjei, the National Chairman of the NDC, held a press conference in which he alleged that a lawyer-member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had free reign in determining which judge would sit on which case, because the said lawyer was related by marriage to the Chief Justice.
Dr. Adjei did not stop there. He accused the judiciary of unprofessional conduct, insolently warning the Chief Justice to clean up the judiciary, and threatening to do the cleaning up himself, if the Chief Justice failed to do so.
Mr. Chris Ackumey, an NDC lawyer/member, incriminated himself by saying that he facilitated the giving of a bribe to a judge. According to Mr. Ackumey, he borrowed GH¢500.00 (Five hundred Ghana cedis) from his wife, so that certain persons (were they his clients?) could bribe a judge.
The “evidence” Mr. Ackumey provided was that the would-be bribe givers had got to a Registrar of the court. He could not positively assert that he had seen the said judge actually take the bribe. At the time Mr. Ackumey told the story to JOY FM, the said judge had already died, and could, therefore, not defend himself.
Mr. Ebo Barton Odro, the immediate past Deputy Attorney-General, falsely accused a judge of being drunkard, and also of boasting at a drinking bar that he (the judge) was going to free the accused persons then facing trial in connection with the murder of the Ya-Na, Naa Yakuba Andani.
The most shameful aspect of Mr. Barton Odro’s accusation was that it was false and deliberately made to tarnish the reputation of that judge.
Ex-President J. J. Rawlings has had occasion to say that if anybody wanted an appointment in the then Mills-Mahama government, the best way was to insult perceived opponents.
It is interesting to note that your nephew, Dr. Raymond Atuguba, got appointed as the Executive Secretary of the Constitutional Review Committee. Today, he is a heart-beat away from the President as his Executive Secretary. Mr. Barton-Odro is now the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament.
Your Lordship, I am not aware of your thoughts on this deliberate campaign to destroy the judiciary. How say ye, my Lord?
By the way, what caused that unfortunate outburst in court?
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