• CJ Anin-Yeboah has been dragged into an alleged bribery saga
• He has in the past had cause to caution media over coverage of the 2020 election petition
• The CJ has also dragged a former deputy Attorney General before the General Legal Council
Chief Justice Kwasi Anin-Yeboah took office in January 2020 replacing Ghana’s second successive female Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, who retired from office.
As at today, he has been in office for one and half years as head of Ghana’s judicial arm of government, making him the fourth most powerful citizen of the land.
One of the main issues the Supreme Court has dealt with during his tenure has been the 2020 presidential election petition which was decided in March this year.
The 58-year-old presided over the seven-member bench that heard and determined the case which was Ghana’s second such petition after the 2012 election petition case, which he incidentally was a part of.
On the back of a recent allegation of bribery levelled against the CJ and his attendant response thereof and call for a formal police investigation, GhanaWeb looks at four instances the CJ has publicly engaged via judicial channels.
Order to media during 2020 Election Petition hearing
An offshoot of the 2020 presidential petition hearings and subsequent media coverage was when the Judicial Service issued a statement on behalf of the CJ, demanding that the media among other things, pull down stories deemed “hateful and incendiary” against the Supreme Court justices.
The order was met by stiff opposition chiefly from the Ghana Journalists Association, GJA, press and human rights groups, other civil society organizations and social commentators.
But in what looked like a backtracking of sorts, the GJA and the Judicial Service held a joint press conference at which a Supreme Court judge Yonny Kulendi delivered a message from the CJ.
“The Chief Justice says I should tell you that ‘as trustees of the people power of justice, we are willing and happy to be criticised. Criticise us as violently as you can, but for Christ sake, don’t insult us. Don’t berate us, don’t speak hatred and malign us.
“Don’t [insult us] because, like yourselves and the work that you do and the heart that you bring to bear on it, it is a similar responsibility and consciousness that judges use to embrace their work,” he added.
CJ vows to probe Muntaka bribery allegation
Early in the year, the CJ through the Judicial Service informed that a probe was going to be undertaken in respect of allegations that a Supreme Court judge had attempted to influence the outcome of the election of the 8th speaker of parliament.
The allegations were leveled by Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, Member of Parliament for Asawase, who at the time refused to name the said justice.
A January 13, 2021 statement signed by Justice Cynthia Pamela Addo, Judicial Secretary read in part: “The Judiciary has noted with grave concern the remarks of Mubarak Muntaka, Hon Member of Parliament for Asawase, which have been widely published in the media alleging that a Justice of the Supreme Court attempted to bribe a female Member of Parliament to vote for Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye, in the election of a Speaker of the 8th Parliament, which took place on 7th January 2021.
“The general public is hereby assured that Hon Chief Justice considers this allegation of impropriety a matter of grave import to the integrity of the Judiciary.
It added: “The Hon Chief Justice is therefore taking steps to solicit the assistance of Mohammed Muntaka MP, to establish the fact in order that the matter can be dealt with appropriately.”
barely a month later, the lawmaker retracted the allegations he made and duly apologized to the Chief Justice and the judiciary.
“Admittedly because I did not specifically name any judge, this may have had the effect of scandalizing the judiciary in its entirety. This unintended consequence is deeply regretted.
“I, therefore, wish to respectfully retract some and apologize for the harm done to the image and reputation of my Lord Justices of the Supreme Court and the Judiciary as a whole,” his apology in early February 2021 noted.
CJ drags Ayine to GLC
The Judicial Service in June 2021 filed a petition before the General Legal Council asking for a former deputy Attorney General and Member of Parliament for Bolgatanga East, Dominic Ayine, to be probed over comments that demeaned the Supreme Court.
Ayine at a program to review the 2020 election petition made comments to the effect that the independence of the judiciary was questionable.
His comments were similar to one that had him charged for contempt and later discharged by the court during the petition hearing after he apologized and was cautioned.
At the CDD-organized roundtable, he averred that the manner in which the petition was handled supposed that there was a ‘pre-determined agenda’ against the petitioner, i.e. former President John Dramani Mahama.
The Judicial Service’s petiton read in part: “His Lordship the Chief Justice, therefore, finds this alleged disparaging comments totally unacceptable and would like you to investigate this matter further.”
Ayine has since responded to the GLC asking that the CJ’s petition be thrown out, he has defended his comments by saying he was making submissions on how a case that has ended was conducted.
His party, the National Democratic Congress and its caucus in Parliament have thrown their weight behind him and called for the CJ to withdraw his petition.
US$5 million bribery allegation
The Chief Justice on Monday, July 12, officially wrote to the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service to investigate an allegation of bribery made against him.
A private legal practitioner, one Akwasi Afrifa in response to a petition filed against him by a client alleged that the said client had told him about a US$5million bribe request from the CJ in a case he was presiding over.
“He further informed me that the Chief Justice had demanded a bribe of US$5,000,000 for a successful outcome to his case and that he had already paid US$500,000 to the Chief Justice,” lawyer Afrifa alleged in response to his client’s petition. The client has since denied this claim in a statement.
In his letter through the Judicial Service to the police CID, the CJ denied having anything to do with the potentially criminal matter and denied taking money to influence any decision.
“His Lordship the Chief Justice is saddened that without any shred of evidence, his name has been dragged into this sordid and potentially criminal matter.
“His Lordship further asserts that he has not demanded or received any money from any person to influence any decision,” the letter said.