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Judicial scandal: Mahama sacks 2 more Anas judges

President John Mahama has sacked two more High Court judges implicated in the Anas Aremeyaw Anas undercover investigations that exposed rot in the judicial service.

The two judges are Justice Kofi Essel Mensah and Justice Francis K. Opoku. Their removal took effect from Tuesday April 19, 2016.

A statement signed by Judicial Secretary, Justice Alex B. Poku Acheampong, said the two were removed for “stated misbehavior” as contained in a petition filed against them by the investigative journalist.

“His Excellency the President, John Dramani Mahama, in a letter dated April 12, 2016 accepted the recommendation for their removal from office by the Committee set up by the Hon. Lady Chief Justice to investigate the petition from Anas Aremeyaw Anas of Tigereyepi for their removal on grounds of stated misbehaviour,” the statement added.

Thirty-four judges including 22 lower court judges and 12 High Court judges were captured by Anas Aremeyaw Anas on video, in a two-year investigative work, taking bribes including goats, yams, and various sums of money, to warp justice. Already 21 of the lower court judges and 19 judicial staff have been removed from office in connection with the scandal.

Explaining the latest removal of the two judges, the statement said in the case of Justice Francis K. Opoku, a second petition for his removal from office was submitted to the President by the Judicial Council on October 29, 2015 on grounds of stated misbehaviour and incompetence following complaints about his failure to sit regularly as a Justice of the High Court at the High Court, Bolgatanga.

The Committee, according to the statement, after investigating the matter, observed thus: Engaged in ex-parte discussion with agents of Anas in respect of the case “Webajuwa Bazilyern vs. Kaponga Kunipwah contrary to Rule 3(7) of the Code of Conduct for Judges and Magistrates of Ghana. Received money from the petitioner and his team with a promise to satisfy the wishes of a party in a case that was pending before him.

In line with the above, however, the committee concluded that Justice Opoku’s conduct constituted “stated misbehaviour contrary to Article 146 (1) of the 1992 constitution and Rule 3(7) of the code of conduct for judges and magistrates in Ghana.” “In respect of the second petition against him, the committee found that Justice Opoku’s dereliction in the performance of his duties and continued absence from duty at the High Court, Bolgatanga had eroded public confidence in the Judiciary in the region and portrayed him as incompetent.

It concluded that his conduct constituted stated misbehaviour and incompetence contrary to Article 146 (1) of the 1992 constitution.”

Justice Kofi Essel Mensah In Justice Kofi Essel Mensah’s case, the Committee found that he had held ill-intentioned discussion with one Gabriel Achana, a court staff, about a bail application in the case of “The Republic vs. Mohammed Nii Baa” with the prospects of receiving valuable consideration.

It further found that the judge secretly discussed the application for bail with the petitioner after which the petitioner gave an amount of GHC 5,000 to him through Gabriel Achana. “The committee concluded that the judge’s conduct amounted to impropriety which had undermined public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary contrary to Rule 2(A) of the code of conduct for judges and magistrates.”

Following their removal from office, both judges ahve been asked to vacate their bungalows and all official properties in their possession including their official government vehicles, Dockets and Record books returned to the Judicial Secretary. “The Director of Human Resource has also been requested to ensure that their names are deleted from the payroll of the Judicial Service with effect from April 19, 2016,” the statement added.

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