ASEPA threatens legal action over CHRAJ’s refusal to investigate Chief Justice

The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), says it is likely to challenge, in court, the decision of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), to halt its probe into bribery allegations levelled against the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah.

ASEPA petitioned CHRAJ last month under Article 218 (a) and (e) of the 1992 Constitution to investigate allegations of a $5 million dollar bribe paid to the Chief Justice.

But in a response to the request, CHRAJ declined to probe the matter because ASEPA had also petitioned the Presidency, which has begun work on the request.

Addressing the press on the matter, Executive Director of ASEPA, Mensah Thompson, explained that the Presidency was petitioned to impeach the Chief Justice, while CHRAJ was petitioned to investigate administrative breaches.

“We contend that the President should not interfere with this constitutional process and must stay with his function. A prima facie determination is not a full-scale investigation. We cannot afford to allow needless doubts and shadows of corruption to hang on the neck of the judiciary, let alone the Chief Justice. It is in this vein that we have taken this step. We hope that the principal actors clothed with the responsibility to bring finality to this matter ensure that they keep this at the back of their minds in furtherance of the utmost preservation of the judiciary and democracy. As for CHRAJ’s report, there is a very high likelihood that we will challenge this action in court”.

What did CHRAJ say?

(CHRAJ) has said it was no longer probing the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, as demanded by ASEPA saying it took such a discretionary action because it realized that ASEPA had also petitioned the presidency over the same issue.

CHRAJ, in the letter signed by its Commissioner, Joseph Whittal, said because the group was seeking the removal of the Chief Justice from office, the appropriate forum for such demands to be met is the Presidency.

“Whilst it may be conceded that the complainant in the instant matter before the commission did not claim, as a specific relief, the removal of the respondent, it is discernible from its invocation of Article 146 that, that is the ultimate destination of the complainant. The procedure for the removal of a Chief Justice having been specifically provided for in Article 146, it is our considered view that the provisions of the said article take precedence over the general provisions of Article 218,” the commission noted.

CHRAJ further defended its action for refusing to probe the Chief Justice, saying, the law governing its work gives it the discretionary power to decide what to do when confronted with situations like this.

Background

ASEPA petitioned the President in July 2021 to initiate an impeachment process against Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, following bribery allegations made against him by a Kumasi-based lawyer, Akwasi Afrifa.

The bribery allegations against the Chief Justice were contained in a response Mr. Akwasi Afrifa, a lawyer, gave in a petition filed against him by his client, Ogyeedom Kwesi Atta IV at the disciplinary committee of the General Legal Council.

Ogyeedom IV dragged Mr. Afrifa to the GLC, alleging that the lawyer collected $100,000 from him with a promise to help get a favourable judgement on his behalf.

Ogyeedom Atta IV asked the Council to order Mr. Afrifa to refund the $100,000, saying the lawyer failed to deliver on his promise.

In a response dated July 8, 2021, Mr. Afrifa denied the claims by Ogyeedom Kwesi Atta IV, further alleging that he was asked to refund $300,000 in legal fees to enable his client to raise a $5 million bribe to be paid to the Chief Justice to get a favourable decision in the legal dispute.

Justice Anin-Yeboah has already denied the bribery allegations made against him.

Council of State presents a report to Akufo-Addo

The President subsequently referred the petition to the Council of State. The Council on Friday, August 20, 2021, presented its report to the President.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on his part said he will study the report and announce his decision to the public.

“I will apprise you [Council of State] of my own findings on the matter. I am hoping that my consultation will establish that there is unanimity between you and me on this matter before we can go on.”

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