Justice John Ajet-Nasam, one of the high-profile judges said to be involved in the bribery and corruption scandal that has rocked the judiciary, says he fears he might never get a fair hearing.
He said his fears are borne out of the fact that the judicial authorities had already handed him and his colleagues captured in the Anas Aremeyaw Anas investigative reports to the public for hanging.
He claimed that the letter from the Judicial Service dated September 9, 2015 asking for his side of the story was delivered through a watchman at his residence on September 14.
Justice Ajet-Nasam’s lawyer, Somuah Asamoah of Appiade Chambers, Accra, expressed the judge’s worry in a letter dated September 18, 2015 and addressed to the Chief Justice and the Judicial Council as part of his response to the allegations currently being investigated by a committee in the imminent impeachment process.
The embattled judge and 33 others were captured on audio-visuals allegedly taking bribes to scuttle cases before them. The video finally went public against agitations that it should not be given public screening.
The numerous patrons that thronged the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) – where Anas’ Tiger Eye PI held public screening of the investigative piece – kept grumbling at how the judges were taking bribes in broad daylight to throw away cases or let criminals off the hook in the almost three-hour video.
Perhaps the judge who attracted sarcastic applause from the audience was Justice Ajet-Nasam of the infamous Woyome GH¢51.2 million fraudulent judgement debt saga. He even remarked at a point that “I don’t take sopi (small), sopi (small) money,” when he allegedly collected bribe from undercover journalist Anas to free an accused person at Zongo Junction, Accra.
In Justice Ajet-Nasam’s letter, it was clear that he indeed tendered in his resignation to the Chief Justice immediately news about the scandal broke, but it was reportedly rejected.
The judge was worried that his resignation letter of September 8, 2015 was leaked to the media barely 24 hours after tendering it and that he had even not received any acknowledgement or response.
According to the lawyer, Justice Ajet-Nasam is insisting that the intensity of the prejudicial nature of media reportage against him had rendered it “highly impossible to fight back the gnawing feeling that certain media practitioners are making out of the unfortunate situation.”
The lawyer said the splashing of his client’s name and photographs in the media before he is heard was “borne out of a scheme deliberately conceived by the petitioner (Anas) and his agents to entrap and damage him.”
He said he had already been crucified in both the traditional and social media before being heard.
The lawyer raised a question, “If not for the purpose of deliberate vilification to tarnish his reputation, then why would an ordinary activity of a video of him celebrating the birthday of a religious leader, Prophet T.B. Joshua, whom he draws inspiration and spiritual support from, be circulating in the social media before he was asked to respond to the allegation of bribery?”
The judge said for the past 15 or so years, he had been a staunch member of Prophet T.B. Joshua’s Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Nigeria, and that the donations he made publicly were from the Prophet’s resources.
On behalf of the judge, his lawyer denied categorically that the justice demanded bribe in order to exercise his discretionary powers in favour of an accused person, Benard Sallah, and said his judgement was based purely on the evidence adduced at the trial.
The lawyer insisted that the judge did not have any case to answer and urged the Judicial Council to dismiss Anas’ video against him since it was calculated to damage his reputation.
According to a statement issued by the judiciary, the judges who had been exposed by Anas’ undercover operations for allegedly taking bribes – apart from Justice Ajet-Nasam – include Justices Paul Uuter Dery, Kofi Essel Mensah, Charles Quist and Ernest Obimpeh.
The rest are Justices Mustapha Habib Logoh, Gilbert Ayisi-Addo popularly called Saddam, Frank Opoku, Ivy Heward Mills and Kwame Ohene Essel.
However, two out of the twelve justices – Yaw Ansu-Gyeabour and Mohammed Iddrisu – are said to have already retired before Anas made the investigative report available.
The names of some of the suspended 22 lower court judges have been given as Florence K. Ninepence Otoo, Alex Obeng Asante, Emmanuel K. Sunu, Benjamin Y. Osei, Baptiste Kodwo Filson, Issac Akwetey, Albert Zoogah, Courage Ofori Afriyie and Seyram Tsatsu Yao Azumah, all of the Circuit Court.
The Magistrates are William Baffoe, Michael Boamah Gyamfi, Paul K. Alhassan, Stephen Asuure, Kaakyire Atta Owusu, Alfred K.A Mensah, Frank Kingsley Oppong, Samuel Ahaibor, Isaac K. Amoah and Jacob Amponsah.
By William Yaw Owusu