Court documents secured by JoyNews raise serious questions about bribery allegations levelled against Chief Justice Anin Yeboah.
It had been alleged that the Chief Justice demanded a $5 million bribe to influence a case pending before the Supreme Court.
It has now emerged that the Chief Justice only got involved in that case based on an official memo written to him by the original presiding judge requesting for an enhanced panel.
Here are the full facts of the case as sighted by JoyNews from court documents:
1. The case, in the course of which this allegation has arisen, is entitled: Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI v. Ghana Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (now Vodafone Ghana Limited) & Lands Commission. The said suit commenced in the High Court, Swedru, was appealed to the Court of Appeal, Cape Coast and is presently pending in the Supreme Court.
2. The relevant facts of this case are as follows:
i. Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI has a $16 million judgment against Ghana Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (now Vodafone Ghana Ltd.), from the High Court, Swedru.
ii. The basis of the judgment was an admission by Lands Commission at the Swedru High Court that it had granted the disputed land to Vodaphone Ghana Limited under a mistaken belief that the land was State land duly acquired by Executive Instrument and compensation paid to Ogyeedom’s predecessor in title.
iii. Vodaphone appealed the judgment to the Court of Appeal, but their appeal was dismissed. Meanwhile, Vodafone was ordered by the Court to make a payment of $4 million as a part payment of the judgment debt pending the outcome of its appeal.
iv. Dissatisfied with the outcome in the Court of Appeal, Vodafone filed a further appeal to the Supreme Court. Whilst the appeal to the Supreme Court is pending, Vodafone, upon a rigorous investigation of the root of its title to the land, discovered documents including signed receipts from the archives, which show that indeed the land had been duly acquired under Executive Instrument No. 86 (E.I. 86) and compensation fully paid in 1969 by the government of Ghana for the acquisition of the land to one Nana Obranu Gura II, Ogyeedom’s predecessor in title.
v. Armed with the receipts evidencing payment of compensation, Vodafone filed an application for leave to adduce this fresh evidence in the Supreme Court in aid of its appeal.
vi. Vodafone also filed an application before the Supreme Court for a stay of the execution of the remainder of the judgment pending the determination of its appeal, including the consideration of the new evidence showing that the land had been lawfully acquired and compensation long paid to Ogyeedom’s predecessor.
vii. In light of these two applications, the President of the panel of five justices of the Supreme Court before whom, the application for stay of execution of the payment of the rest of the judgment debt to Ogyeedom was placed, wrote a formal memo to His Lordship the Chief Justice for the enhancement of the panel.
viii. The Chief Justice presided over an enhanced panel of seven justices who went on to grant an order for stay of execution of Ogyeedom’s entire judgment. They also made a consequential order that Ogyeedom should refund into court the part payment of the judgment debt of some $4 million that he had already received from Vodafone.
ix. Subsequently, the application for the adduction of fresh evidence was also granted in favour of Vodafone by the Court, differently constituted but still presided over by His Lordship the Chief Justice.
x. Ogyeedom then brought an application before the Supreme Court also asking for leave to lead fresh evidence to contradict the fresh evidence that Vodafone had been granted leave to adduce. The crux of his application was that he wanted an opportunity to demonstrate to the Court that the signatures of Nana Obranu Gura II, his predecessor in title, on the compensation receipts had been forged.
xi. By a majority of Four to One, the Court granted the application in favour of Ogyeedom. Only the Chief Justice dissented, insisting that it was wrong to give Ogyeedom an opportunity to remake his case.
3. On the basis of the foregoing facts, the following crucial inferences become obvious:
i. The Chief Justice was not originally a member of the ordinary bench of the Supreme Court that he himself had empanelled to determine the appeal.
ii. His Lordship, the Chief Justice, only empanelled himself following a request by the original presiding judge as part of an enhanced panel of the Supreme Court to re-examine an age-old principle of law in relation to applications for stay of execution of orders that are ordinarily said to be non-executable and, therefore, incapable of being stayed.
iii. His Lordship, the Chief Justice, was part of the panel that granted the application for stay of execution in favour of Vodafone.
iv. It was His Lordship the Chief Justice who presided when a consequential order was made compelling Ogyeedom to refund into the registry of the Court, about $4 million, which was the part of the judgment debt that had already been paid to him by Vodafone pending the determination of the Appeal.
v. His Lordship, the Chief Justice also presided over the panel that granted the application for the adduction of fresh evidence by Vodafone.
vi. His Lordship the Chief Justice was the only member of the Supreme Court panel who dissented and disagreed with the grant of leave to Ogyeedom to adduce fresh evidence to contradict the fresh evidence that Vodafone had been granted leave to adduce.
Lawyer Akwasi Afrifa, who first made these allegations against the CJ in his response to a petition by his former client, Ogyeedom Obranu Kwasi Atta II, had resorted to such grievous allegations. There are, however, a few fundamental questions to consider from the facts sighted from the court documents regarding the case.
Why would the Chief Justice, who is alleged to have demanded a bribe of $5 million from Ogyeedom for a successful outcome of his case, out of which $5 million has allegedly been paid to him, turn around and order a stay of execution of the judgment?
Why would the same accuse Chief Justice further a consequential order that about $4 million Ogyeedom had already received as part payment of the judgment debt be paid back into court by the Ogyeedom pending the determination of the appeal?
It also comes across as strange that the same Chief Justice, who has allegedly demanded a bribe of $5 million from Ogyeedom, would be the only member of the panel to rule against Ogyeedom on a crucial application by Ogyeedom to present fresh evidence that may enable him to protect the booty from which the Chief Justice stands to be paid his bribe money.
There is a lot for the CID to investigate, but the facts strongly suggest that the CJ may have been falsely accused.