The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), says the response of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to its petition requesting a probe of the Chief Justice is disappointing.
ASEPA petitioned CHRAJ on July 12, 2021, asking the Commission to investigate allegations of bribery and corruption against the Chief Justice under Article 218(a) and (e) of the 1992 Constitution.
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.
According to CHRAJ, it took such a discretionary action because it realized that ASEPA had also petitioned the presidency over the same issue.
“Since the matter is pending in the appropriate constitutional forum, the commission, in the exercise of its discretion under Section 13 of Act 456, hereby ceases to investigate the complaint any further as the invocation of the Article 456 proceedings has effectively taken the matter out of the forum of the commission,” CHRAJ said in a letter addressed to ASEPA.
However, the Executive Director of ASEPA, Mensah Thompson in a Citi News interview described CHRAJ’s posturing as unfortunate.
“If you read the case in point that CHRAJ cited as the basis for truncating this process, they claim that when a plaintiff sues the same defendant in two courts, the plaintiff is elected to stay one of the proceedings and so when CHRAJ during their preliminary investigation realized that another constitutional process has been activated, did they write to us the plaintiffs to stay one of the proceedings and proceed with the other.”
“So with their own explanation, and their own case in point CHRAJ decided to unilaterally, violate the right of the plaintiffs by deciding for us which of the two processes to stay. We find this very unfortunate and disappointing.”
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 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.”