The Council of State says the petition referred to it by President Akufo-Addo, in which the Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) petitioned the president to remove the Chief Justice of the Republic, Justice Anin-Yeboah, from office over a bribery allegation involving US$5 million, levelled against him by a private legal practitioner, Kwasi Afrifa, is frivolous and vexatious.
In a letter addressed to the executive director of ASEPA, Mensah Thompson, dated 20 August 2021 and signed by the Secretary to the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante, President Akufo-Addo informed the ASEPA boss that in line with the recommendations of the Council of State, the facts as contained in the petition are insufficient grounds to warrant the establishment of a five-member committee to probe further the bribery allegation as required by the 1992 constitution.
“The Council of State in its letter, dated 20th August, 2021, conveying its conclusions on the consultation with me on the petition, concluded firmly that the petition initiated by ASEPA for the removal of the Chief Justice on the grounds of stated misbehaviour is frivolous and vexatious. The Council found that the petition does not meet the prima facie standard envisaged under Article 146 (6) of the constitution and, thus, ought to be dismissed in limine,” said the 12-page letter by representatives of the president to ASEPA.
“On the strength of the foregoing, I find that no prima facie case is disclosed by the instant petition for the removal of the Chief Justice. The petition is devoid of any basis warranting the setting up of a committee under Article 146 (6) to undertake the very serious business of removing a Chief Justice from office.
“To entertain further proceedings on the basis of third-hand and fourth-hand hearsay, as the petition is replete with, will violate legally acceptable standards of fairness and weaken the efficacy of the top echelon of the judiciary,” the letter further reads.
Foreknowledge of petitioner
Explaining further, President Akufo-Addo’s letter noted, “It is important to note that, even though the petition and its accompanying papers did not make any reference to, or include the rejoinder, dated 11 July 2021, from Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI, the contents of the rejoinder are a matter of public knowledge and have been circulated widely in the media.
“In my view, the categorical denial by Ogyeedom Obranu Kwesi Atta VI, who is purportedly the source of the hearsay, is an important fact to be placed on the record.
“The said rejoinder states, ‘I unequivocally deny all allegations of intended bribery or actual bribery of any judge including the Chief Justice, whom I have never met or known personally apart from seeing him a distance from the bench.’
“I am convinced that it is very likely that the petitioner was well aware of this categorical denial at the time of lodging the petition for the removal of the Chief Justice on 13 July 2021,” the president said in his letter to ASEPA.
CoS presents findings
Presenting its findings to President Akufo-Addo on Friday 20 August 2021, the chairman of the Council of State, Nana Otuo Siriboe II, declared that the Council has taken all necessary matters and laws into consideration before writing its report.
“The Council of State has made its findings and we are here to present to you the findings of the Council of State as to whether a prima facie case had been made to warrant the start of an impeachment process for the removal of the Chief Justice of Ghana,” Nana Otuo Siriboe said.
On receiving findings
After receiving the findings of the Council, President Akufo-Addo said that, taking the provisions of the 1992 constitution into consideration, his government will act appropriately on the findings of the Council of State.
“I understand that the processes of the impeachment of the Chief Justice and indeed, justices of the Supreme Court, are meant to be in camera proceedings, so that the content of the consultations between the two of us – your side, as in the letter, and my own – will, for the time being, remain confidential until we are in the position to announce the results of it to the world,” President Akufo-Addo said.